Gender Relationships in Death of a Salesman - Critical Analysis of the Play

Published: 2021-08-11
567 words
3 pages
5 min to read
Boston College
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The Arthur Millers Death of a Salesman shows various gender roles that are expressed by the characters. Ideally, the relationship between Willy and women throughout the play is what developed his character. In many instances, we see women falling into traps because of failure to think outside societal norms. For example, during the period of the setting of the play, women rights were abused, and they were to be seen not heard as critical functions were left for their husbands.

The gender roles are first observed from a perspective of Willy's family. Willys role is to go to work daily because he is considered as a breadwinner of the family. His wife, on the other hand, remains at home to take care of the children and do household chores. Women are subjected to mens decisions and denied chances to express their thoughts publicly. Additionally, women were forced to raise the children according to mens decisions rather than collective family decisions.

The relationship between Linda and Willy provide a perfect overview of gender roles. In many instances, Linda founds herself at crossroads on whether to live independently or persevere within the family for the sake of reconciling with Willy and her sons. Although her family was dysfunctional, she chooses to be a self-servant in their nuclear family and avoiding confrontations for being of being subordinated by her husband. This shows how women suffer at the hands of their husbands in the society while hiding behind culture.

Another instance shows how men disrespect women in the society. Willy frequently interrupts Linda when she speaks out or while responding to an issue. His rudeness to her can also be seen through his responses that are mostly demeaning. In one instance, Willy asked Linda to avoid interruption when she tried to comment about his salesman job. This scene shows everyday happenings in several households where women are demeaned by their husbands because of perception that men are superior in the society.

Another scene is during family gathering while talking about Biff and their business endeavors. Linda had the opportunity to express herself, but she is frequently looked down upon by Willy. In fact, Willy told that she should not be involved in business talks because women are supposed to only do household chores. This shows back-ward thinking going on in the society since men perceive women as having little knowledge and value to the business world. In this modern era, such thinking is old-fashioned because women are slowly becoming strong pillars in the business sector.

Furthermore, the play shows various stereotypical male roles that are common in the society. For instance, Willy believed that he is successful because of being attractive and liked by women. He further thinks those two aspects outperforms the need for perseverance and hard work in the society. This obsession led to his downfall and ended up having emotions that affected his family. Another stereotype is seen by saying that mens sole responsibility is to settle down and look for a wife and family. This perception shows backward thinking that is gender-centered in the society.

Conclusively, this play has shown how gendered roles are abused in the society. The characters in the play were considered as alpha males and women are abused as weak individuals. This is actually what is happening in outside world where women occupy a backseat in the society and men are highly regarded.

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