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What is your ultimate judgment of Linda in Death of a Salesman: is she a caring and...

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saramsey | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted July 13, 2011 at 1:49 AM via web

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What is your ultimate judgment of Linda in Death of a Salesman: is she a caring and supportive wife or does she act as an enabler of his lies?

What is your ultimate judgment of Linda in Death of a Salesman: is she a caring and supportive wife or does she act as an enabler of his lies?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 13, 2011 at 9:10 PM (Answer #2)

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Therein lies the rub. Your question brilliantly focuses on the dilemma critics have when trying to analyse Linda's character, because, in a sense, she is both a caring, loving and devoted wife and the enabler of Willy and her children's self-deception. You might want to focus on the way in which she does this by encouraging Willy to believe in his dreams even when she knows that his dreams are ultimately in vain and destined to remain unfulfilled. Cosnider how Linda encourages Willy to go to Howard and ask for a job where he does not have to travel. In response to Willy's assertion that he is going to succeed in this, she says "Oh, that's the spirit, Willy!" In response to Willy's happiness, she seems only to encourage him in believing that he can get a different job by saying "It's changing, Willy, I can feel it changing!" Even though Linda is aware that such plans and schemes that her husband and children come up with are nothing but fantasies, she believes that she is doing the best she can for them by trying to encourage them.

In a sense, therefore, we can say that the answer is that Linda is both. She definitely is a supportive and immensely loving wife and mother, but at the same time she feels that to be loving and supportive she needs to pretend to believe in Willy and her son's self-deceptions. She is the centre of the Loman family that gives Willy, Biff and Happy the ability to build themselves up and dream big dreams, even if these plans only remain dreams. Of course, we might choose to question Linda's actions, arguing that she would have been ultimately more "loving" if she had confronted her husband's self-deception head on.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted July 22, 2011 at 9:02 AM (Answer #3)

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Linda is a very complex character, and certainly shows elements of both traits which you describe. I see that Linda is trying to achieve what was the American Dream for women at the time: to be a loving wife and mother to a successful husband and ambitious children. Linda fails at this as much as Willy fails in his dream. Her husband is unsuccessful, unpopular and unfaithful. Her children are rootless and unfocused. The play is as much Linda's tragedy as anyone's.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 26, 2011 at 2:25 AM (Answer #4)

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This is a common problem. Women think they are helping their husbands, when in fact they are only making it acceptable for them to continue their behavior.  I agree that she is a complex character, and enabling is a complex situation.  I just happen to have very strong, personal feelings on this play!

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hteshak | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted December 24, 2011 at 5:00 AM (Answer #5)

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Linda is a very complex character, and certainly shows elements of both traits which you describe. I see that Linda is trying to achieve what was the American Dream for women at the time: to be a loving wife and mother to a successful husband and ambitious children. Linda fails at this as much as Willy fails in his dream. Her husband is unsuccessful, unpopular and unfaithful. Her children are rootless and unfocused. The play is as much Linda's tragedy as anyone's.

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i don't think that linda's goal was to achieve women's american dream since it doesn't meet the second wave feminist claims. rather, she remains a bad example of that period whre women's main interest ws to achieve liberty, and the right to vote

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