How does Arthur Miller portray women in Death of a Salesman?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In Arthur Miller's play "Death of a Salesman" the women that somewhat help drive the plot are Linda, Willy's husband, and Willy's mistress.

Both women are given submissive roles: They both depend on Willy for something. Linda depends on Willy because she lives in a time and place where women were subservient to their husbands. Linda has to endure the dysfunctional nature of her family by pretending that Willy (in his current state, as an old man going nearly insane) is fine and that all he needs is more support.

On the other hand, Willy's mistress also depends on Willy for her stockings, and all the other items that Willy more than likely provides for her in his never-ending chauvinistic egotism. Nevertheless, the mistress is who severes completely the ties between Willy and Biff.

Other than that, the other women that we learn about are the girls that Happy picks up at the restaurant. Both Biff and Happy leave Willy alone ranting at the restaurant in order to go spend sometime with the girls. We know that Happy is completely chauvinistic and treats women as whores. Biff is no different. Therefore, both sons take from their father.

Concisely, women are objects in "Death of a Salesman". They are objects of affection, of support, of destruction, of passion, and of pain. However, they seem to be just that. Mere objects.

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