How Far Does Linda Make Us Feel Sympathy Towards Linda in Death of a Salesman

In Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”, Linda plays the key female role. It seems the family revolves around her, and she seems to be the most forward thinking character in the play, but does Miller make us feel sympathy towards her? There are many reasons as to why we could feel sympathy for Linda. Firstly, Linda is living with all the families dreams. Trapped by Willy’s failed career the family has nothing, and Linda has to bear that. Her two children, who are both great looking and confident, have made nothing of themselves at ages 34 and 32.
All she wants is a realistic goal, but she gets dragged into the dreams her family mistakenly create. Willy himself says in the restaurant scene “the woman has waited and the woman has suffered. ” Willy is showing he realises what he is putting Linda through, but unfortunately he has no fix. Secondly, Linda has had to suffer through Willy’s Suicidal thoughts, plagued everyday with trying to remove the rubber pipe, but putting it back everyday for fear of hurting Willy.
Linda is forced to bear the thought of Willy killing himself daily, that can’t be easy for a woman who suffers in so many other ways. Thirdly, Willy cannot provide for Linda, not allowing her to work, for fear of looking unsuccessful. Willy is only paid commission, and throughout his working life he has never made much money. This means the family cannot afford many luxuries, with a cheap car, and cheap appliances such as their refrigerator.

Linda is seen mending stockings by Willy, a key symbol in the play, not only can Willy not provide enough money for Linda to afford expensive stockings, but Willy could provide stockings to ‘the Woman’, with Stockings a symbol for sexuality and femininity, it could be said that Willy provided sexually for his Mistress, but not for Linda. Thirdly, Willy has never treated Linda right. As Biff puts it, “He never had an ounce of respect for you,” the kitchen scene at the end of act one shows this well, with Willy shouting at Linda whenever she tried to put in a word, “Wildly enthused, to Linda: Stop Interrupting! , he doesn’t give Linda the respect she deserves, treating her as if she knows nothing, perhaps Willy doesn’t want her to know much, keeping her from being independent of him. This is also seen through Willy’s affair, it seems that through all of Willy’s choices or actions, Linda bears the pain from it. Although Linda can come across as a victim in all that has happened, it is not completely fair to say that she is completely worthy of sympathy;
It seems that although Willy doesn’t provide much for his family, Linda doesn’t mind that Willy isn’t successful, she is happy with what she has, and lives realistically, accepting what she has, and not tying herself up in dreams like her family has. She is quoted to say “Why must everyone conquer the world,” something that rings through not just her thoughts but also what Miller thought. Miller wants to show us the difference between Willy’s dreamy hopes, and Linda’s realistic approach to living. Linda doesn’t believe in Willy’s adapted version of the American Dream, but it is ultimately this that finishes him off.

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