Gender Discrimination in “Death of a Salesman”


 When I was reading the first act of the play “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller, I was pondering about some gender issues that I found absolutely discriminatory.

 The main character of this play Willy Loman exemplifies the conventional masculinity (!) prevailing in our male dominated society. Willy Loman, who is the main earning member of the family, is always insulting his wife Linda when she wants to tell anything about the children; moreover, he is engaged in an extra-marital affair with a woman, and giving stocking to her as a gift while his wife is mending a pair of stockings herself. He is cheating on her wife Linda, who not only loves him but also highly admires him. On the other hand, the author portrays Linda’s character as a traditional woman who is dedicated to her family, and who doesn’t have any opinion in the decision-making of her family affairs. Her husband Willy is always insulting her whenever she speaks in any family affairs, and she doesn’t protest against him. In the act 1, we see when Linda is telling Willy about her son Biff that “he is too rough with the girls, and all the mothers are afraid of him” (13), Willy just insults her saying “Shut Up!” (14). Millar portrays another character Happy who is the epitome of virility. Happy considers girls to be used as the objects to satisfy sexual desire only. Although he himself is having sex with girls, he criticized Miss Forsythe saying, “Isn’t that a shame now? A beautiful girl like that? That’s why I can’t get married. There’s not a good woman in a thousand” (38). Moreover, Happy’s allusion to Miss Forsythe’s “binoculars (37)” indicates that a girl is only a physical body without any self identity. In addition, another male character Biff when he had confidence he also used girls. We can understand his concept towards girls when Happy says, “Where’s the old confidence, Biff?”

In conclusion, in the play “Death of a Salesman,” Arthur Millar portrays the women characters very lightly. He shows the women as one kind of neglected creatures through the eyes of the male characters in the whole play.

3 Responses to Gender Discrimination in “Death of a Salesman”

  1. nusrat4 says:

    Awesome! Tajalli, i enjoyed a lot reading your blog. These are the thoughts that even come to my mind. Sometimes like you i too think what a strange creation of god we are. I too ask myself why does god give us such power to care for others? Why can’t we be selfish like men? I regret to tell you that men generally don’t treat us as human beings. Very few men pay us respect as human beings. Women are still being used as prizes in the society. Women are the recreational elements to men. Men marry women to give birth to their children, raise them and to look after his family. Actually sorry to say that men particularly bangladeshi men use their life partner as their servant.

  2. hey xush dil..You really have a great thought. Yeah, it’s so sad for the girls who are coerced to involve in the field of prostitution because of their low social standard. And it’s really unfair for housewives who are betrayed by their husband who are dominant in the family. But do you think that if the housewives were engaged in profession, then their husband will stop going for the search of sex with the outsiders. Will they stop visiting brothels if their women were earning like them?? And the other thing is, how would it be if their were men prostitute in the society?? Wouldn’t there be women clients??

  3. Masooma says:

    Dear Tajalli,
    I liked your post. I feel sorry for that prostitute girl who was forced to earn money and support her family in such an ugly way, but I don’t agree with the idea that we (girls) are created for being suffered only. It’s true that many women in our societies are being looked at just as sex objects, servants named housewives, and creatures who can give birth, but your existence and mine is supposed to prove the opposite. The reason behind all the education and attention we are receiving is to eliminate such stereotypes in our societies. We should work hard to prove our value and give a different definition to the word “woman” in our societies.

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