Crucial Role of Women in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

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Crucial Role of Women in Death of a Salesman

In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, women play a crucial role in Willy’s life and in the lives of the other characters. While the roles themselves have not changed since the play was written, society’s opinion of these roles has changed greatly. When it was written, Miller’s representation of Linda was seen as a portrait of the ideal American wife. She was a nurturing wife and mother, loyal to her family, and almost overly supportive of her pitiful husband Willy. The other women in the play, however, were seen as “working women,” or women who care about money as opposed to emotional support.

This view has almost spun 180 degrees since the feminist movement rocked society.
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"Contrary to surface appearance, then, there are not two kinds of women in the play, good and bad. All of the women are conflated in the idea of Woman: all share more similarities than differences." (Stanton 136)

The Woman can be viewed as a composite of all the women in the play - a sexual plaything but also a person with the power to open doors for Willy - a woman who will have sex with a man for the price of a pair of stockings, but who also seems to genuinely like the man and who, furthermore, chose him, rather than the other way around.

From the opening scene, Linda appears as the doting and ever-supportive wife, reassuring Willy when he begins to doubt his ability to fulfill his dreams of success in the business world. She runs the household, handles all the details of life that Willy seems barely able to comprehend, and continues to believe in her husband when everyone else has written him off as a dreamer and a fool.

Her "attention" speech reveals a woman of great compassion - one who recognizes her husband's limitations fully, yet defends him with great passion: "I don't say he's a great man. Willy Lohman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be

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