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Death of a Salesman: Feminist Criticism

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Death of a salesman: feminist criticism.

Arthur Miller based his play around the American dream and what it takes to achieve this dream. What is an American dream without the version of a perfect wife, someone to cook you dinner while you are out working, someone to take your shoes and fetch your slippers when you step through the door. If we look at it now it may seem more like tasks for the family pet rather than the woman of the household, but these expectations were the norm when this play was written. It was thought to be a woman's job to cook and clean, now thought to be a horribly sexist idea was once a widely accept piece of the puzzle that is the American dream. Arthur Miller's portrayal of women in society is communicated in three different perspectives, one looking at the life of a wife, one at the life of a mistress; the polar opposite of an American dream , a home wrecker, and one through the eyes of young men. Before she is even introduced Linda Lowman is given the readers sorrow. She is viewed as the meek suffering wife of Willy. Dealing with his delusions, daydreams, and shortened temper. She never hesitates to cater to willies needs. This is shown through her constant need to get or take things from Willy. She is always taking his coat or bringing him something, like when Willy gets home from Yonkers he is told "take an asprin. Should I get you an asprin? It'll soothe you." Unlike Linda, the woman is dehumanized by her lack of an actual name and the fact that she is introduced as an adulteress. This outlook makes the woman seem like an object just too be had, and even worse the woman seems to be fine with this sort of objectification. After Willy finishes telling Linda how she is "a pal" he falls into a flashback about his mistress. One of the most sexist things a man can do is physically objectify a woman and in his flashback he slaps the woman on the behind. Her reaction is to laugh it off and say to him "you just kill me Willy" defusing the clearly sexist action just committed. The final outlook on sexism comes from the boys Happy and Biff. They are your average male adolescents with one thing on there mind. You can see how this mindset dabbles in the sexist area. Both Biff and Happy had a date one night and when talking about them later Happy refers to the girls without names or gender identification "But take those two we had tonight. Now weren't they beautiful creatures?" he even goes as far as saying he had them, making it seem like they are mere play things and once they have served their purpose the should be disposed of. What seemed like the absolute normal everyday life back when Arthur miller wrote this play, has been uncovered as unbelievably sexist. Like all good works of art.



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