Essay by mikehuntHigh School, 12th gradeB, September 2008

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Independent Study Project: Essay OutlineTopicThe motif of male dominance and patriarchy in the following works:1) Death of a Salesman- Arthur Miller2) Fifth Business- Robertson DaviesThesisAlthough the presence of a few strong and independent women is captured in both works, each exhibits the motif of male dominance and patriarchy.

Introductory ParagraphThroughout all of history, examples of a domineering male can be found. In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman and Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business, plots, subplots and even the relationships between minor characters work in conjunction to establish a feeling of male supremacy and patriarchy. In Fifth Business, Dunstable Ramsay and his childhood friend, Percy Boyd Staunton both approach relationships differently but each strives to maintain their independence and control over his own life. Quite similarly, in Death of a Salesman, the men of the Loman family treat the women in their lives with little or no respect, objectifying them and cheating on them without remorse.

Although the presence of a few strong women is captured in each work, both exhibit the motif of male dominance and a patriarchal structured society.

Main Points(1) Women are nearly always portrayed as weak, incapable and inferior to their male counterparts.

1.1 (FB) Mrs. Dempster, upon being hit with a snowball, falls to the ground, crying and has to be pulled home on a sled by her husband, Mr. Dempster. As well, Mrs. Dempster may or may not have been raped. At the time she says she consented to the intercourse but upon meeting the tramp later in the book, Dunstable accuses the man of raping her. Suggests that Mrs. Dempster could not have defended herself if she had not consented1.2 (FB) Leola Cruickshank is portrayed as a charming girl, but is said to lack intelligence. Upon marrying her, Percy Boyd Staunton attempts to mould his wife into something new, a sort of trophy wifePercy is often frustrated with his wife for not being as sophisticated as other women1.3 (DoaS) Linda plays the role of a doormat for Willy as it seems that he wipes his feet with her and she just lays there doing nothing about it.

Use example of when she bought a different type of cheese for Willy because she thought he would like it and he got upset with her(2) Strong women are depicted as ugly or with predominately male characteristics2.1 (FB) Dunstable’s mother is illustrated as being the one in control of her marriage and her husband seems to be genuinely intimidated by her2.2 (FB) Liesl is the main symbol of patriarchy and is portrayed as being ugly because she is a strong woman2.3 (DoaS) Possibly discuss Linda’s strength in pursuing the marriage despite William’s criticism and unfaithfulness. How is Linda illustrated as ugly?(3) Women are abused, mistreated and cheated on3.1 (FB) Percy Boyd Stanton cheats on his wife, Leola, with many girls from the city. He often brags about this to Dunstable and does not seem to feel any guilt for it.

3.2 (DoaS) William Loman is idolized by his son Biff, until Biff finds out that his father cheated on Linda (his mom) with “the Woman.” This woman only comes up in William’s dreams and memories3.3 (DoaS) Happy Loman is a womanizer who pursues ladies with only his pleasure in mind (for example, he sleeps with an engaged woman, making a liar out of her)(4) Each work strives to reflect the role of women for its time period4.1 (FB) Mrs. Ramsay goes out of her way to try and help Mrs. Dempster “learn the ropes” (p.24) and the question is posed by the narrator (Dunstable) “Why had Mrs. Dempster’s mother never prepared her for these aspects of marriage?” (p.24) Suggests that women were to be “trained” for marriage and it was their duty to know how to cook, clean and take care of children4.2 (FB) Mrs. Dempster would go “traipsing” from house to house, offering the ladies wilted rhubarb or rank lettuce “to the annoyance of a busy woman who was washing or getting a meal for husbands and sons” (p.41) Quote emphasizes the typified role of housewife4.3 (DoaS) Biff and Happy both objectify women and treat the ladies around them with the typical air of sexism of the timesConclusionThough the presence of a few very strong women is found in each work, the plots, subplots and relationships of the characters work in conjunction to establish and strengthen the motif of male supremacy. Through objectification, affairs and situations of sexual exploitation a strong pattern of male dominance is present in both Fifth Business and Death of a Salesman. The mistreatment of women and the description of their character as weak or incapable further this motif and lend itself to the societal consequences of social inequalities.

BibliographyDavies, Robertson. Fifth Business. London: Penguin Books, 1977Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Penguin Plays. New York: Penguin Group, 1949