Compare and contrast Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman and Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that both characters are interesting reflections of one another.  One immediate difference between them is that Amanda emerges as much stronger than Willy.  This is not merely because of the suicide element.  It is also because Amanda is forced to endure more because of being a woman in the context in which she lives.  Due to her social conditions and context, Amanda might blow much in terms of "hot air," but she recognizes her own limitations.  Her husband left, her disengaged son will probably follow suit, and her daughter is a shell of the woman that she wishes her to be.  While Amanda does engage in a nostalgia of the past, it is more benign than Willy's, whose condition is brutally painful both because of his own delusion and his own understanding of self and the extraordinary matrices placed upon him.  Whereas Amanda has to appropriate her own reality in the realm of the private, where some success could be seen or at least where failure is not has brutally harsh, Willy has to appropriate reality in accordance to his own subjectivity in both home and work settings, where challenges in both confront him.  In this light, his condition is even more challenging than Amanda.  They both have trouble with reality and with the realistic conditions in which they are immersed.  While both are filled with "hot air," I find Willy's predicament more pathetic and more pain- ridden than Amanda's.