Arthur Miller’s Treatment of Women Essay
Arthur Miller’s Treatment of Women
Throughout “Death of a Salesman”, Arthur Miller presents a very bleak view of women. From the male opinion, to their place in the play, women were subjugated. Some may think this was just a role set out by Arthur Miller for this play. I find this difficult to believe given the ubiquity, leaving me to think that Mr. Miller is an unrelenting misogynist. This is not only demonstrated by the superficial factors such as, dialogue, events, but also the subtle nuances. Factors like setting and relationships. Through this essay I will make clear Arthur Millers true opinion on women evident via events, characters, setting, relationships and dialogue; the much concealed misogyny of Arthur Miller, and Death of a Salesman.
The most apparent demonstration of Arthur Millers misogyny was through the dialogue. One of numerous occasions the Loman men objectified women was while Happy and Biff are having a boorish conversation about a past girl they had both slept with, that was my first time I think. Boy, there was a pig! (Death of a Salesman, page 21) Pigs are known as foul and dirty ubiquitously throughout a variety of different cultures and religions. I vehemently cannot see a greater disrespect than associating this animal with a human being. I dont think there could be more a dehumanizing comment. Throughout the novel the Loman men, especially Happy referred to women as creatures.
This once again, is utterly disrespectful; it classifies women as subhuman. A common misconception about poor-standing characters in novels is that they dont necessarily represent the authors beliefs. This is something that I couldnt agree with more, but in order for this to happen, you have to demonstrate an opposite; a moral high ground, which Arthur Miller doesnt do whatsoever. Not once does a character stand in opposition nor do they present an alternative to the Loman misogyny.
Events throughout the novel stand in no conflict to the soon to be obvious thesis, that Mr. Miller is a misogynist. I think there is no better example of his misogynic behavior than that of the primary character; Willy cheating on his wife Linda with a more appealing woman. But why might Willy seek another woman when he had a loyal wife at home? The only apparent reason is because his respect for women seems to be absolutely foreign. Even when his son Biff catches his father in the act, there is no sorrow for Linda. The only distress felt is Biff disappointment in his father for having no willpower. One might think that those tears were for Linda, but this is clearly not true. If Biff really cared so deeply for his mother he would have told her about what had happened, something he did not do. This wasnt the only event that demonstrates Millers women hating ways. Early on in the novel Willy states disappointment with Linda over something as simple as purchasing cheese. This clearly exemplifies a belief that women are incapable of doing anything correctly.
Arthur Miller, like everything women related, had a very sour view on relationships. For starters, Happy, Stanley and Biff viewed women as form of entertainment, a game for them to hunt. They saw no emotion, nothing human; all they saw was a trophy. I assume one might say that, that wasnt the role Linda played. Which is true, but I must ask in return, was she free from denigration? Linda was issued just as little respect, apparent or not. For example anytime the conversation involved Linda, she had little importance in it, or was purely ignored. The only time she could get a word in is when she was involved in a one on one conversation; otherwise she was virtually demoted to the status of a doormat.
A key factor of Arthur Millers misogyny was established through the settling and the American culture. This play is thought to take place in a morally primitive state in history. This was a very hierarchical time, when blacks didnt have the vote and women were still viewed as less than human. To even expect Arthur Miller to jet set equality would be a ridiculous request. I dont think Arthur Miller was an above and beyond typical misogyny, more complied with the post great depression time. This doesnt make it right it just demonstrates a large precedent that Mr. Miller obviously followed. With this time came a belief to fulfill the American Dream. The three primary components on the American Dream were fame, wealth and women. This isnt to say that there isnt a more politically correct way to get women. At this time women were viewed and thought as something to be swept away. Even to this day there is a certain expectation of male dominances that men comply with and women expect. For example, the stigma of a girl asking out a boy on a date. If it wasnt for our past cultures standards Arthur Miller wouldnt have complied with this misogyny, and nor would the rest of society.
Throughout this essay I express a non-obvious thesis that Arthur Miller was a misogynist as demonstrated in his famous play, Death of a Salesman. This sentiment was expressed in virtually every facet of this play; from the palpable dialogue, to the subtle nuances of Willys misogynistic relationship with Linda. The stink of Mr. Millers misogyny is ever prevalent but why? As previously mentioned, I speculate the reason stems from cultures treatment of the women; but if one complies with culture isnt one justified or thought of as righteous? This is a catch twenty-two, righteousness is essentially made up of societal majority, something that Arthur Miller complied with. Unfortunately standards have changed and with that so did what was right. Mr. Miller is by means no demon, just another person demonized by an evolved society.