Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman - Marginalization of Women

Essay by Pokey021 November 2004

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Marginalization of Women It's been over 50 years since the release of Arthur Miler's play Death of a Salesman. Written in 1949, Death of a Salesman is widely regarded by many as one of the masterpiece play of 20th century. It has seen countless reprisal performances spanning across the globe in such unlikely places such as China, and Japan for over 50 years. Its impact on our society has been so great that students, ranging from high school students to university students study Death of a Salesman and attempt to interpret its message. After reading this compelling play about a failed American dream of an ordinary man, a careful examination of characters reveals an aspect of the play that cannot be ignored. Miller's play reveals gender discrimination between female and male characters that is permeates palpably throughout the play. In contrast to male characters of the play, female characters lack the vivid, multi-layered human quality that male characters seem to possess.

They are flat, two dimensional, lifeless, stereotypical portrayals of such women as a devoted mother, a mistress, and a barfly. Given the complex and compelling traits of the male characters in Death of a Salesman, it is surprising that Miller chose to give so little attention to the female characters. In stereotypical fashion, Miller has conveniently concocted these female characters to serve the men in the play. Linda Loman, central male character's wife merely suffices as the acceptable notion of generic mother figure from its era. Loyal to her husband, loving to her sons, that is the extent of her significance to the play. For all intents and purposes, she merely exists as a periphery character to complete Willy's family unit. Linda role is to simply server her men in her family. "What a woman: They broke the mold...