“Death of a Salesman” by Miller and “A Doll’s House” by Ibsen
“Death of a Salesman” and “A Doll’s House” are two plays that were written in different centuries. In these plays, among other things, is presented the place that women hold in the family, as well as in the society. Although in many aspects, the two protagonists of the plays, Linda and Nora respectively, appear to have things in common, at the same time they are very different, since Nora seems to be more modern and liberal than Linda, which is ironic given the fact that Ibsen wrote his play seventy years earlier than Miller. The representation of the two women in these two plays is what will be discussed in this paper.
In “Death of a Salesman”, Linda embodies the role of the traditional American woman, which was to take care of her husband, her children and the house, regardless of her personal aspirations, and dreams. The woman is expected to stay at home and engage in everyday house works, like cooking, cleaning and sewing, while the man, as the head of the family, is expected to find a well-respected job position because it was the man’s duty to provide for the entire family. So Linda has given up on everything she hoped for in her life, she sacrificed herself, just to be with her husband and her two sons, even though her husband doesn’t seem to be treating her very well. Willy disregards every word Linda attempts to interject in family conversations by interrupting her and accusing her of interrupting him. He shouts at her, he doesn’t let her speak and when she does, he speaks to her badly. A distinct example is the passage towards the end of Act I in which Linda attempts in vain to speak her mind: Linda: “Maybe things are beginning to-” Willy: “Stop interr…
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… and in the society. Two different women, from two different times were victims of their era. The one is old, unattractive but caring and supportive; she is Linda, the woman of the 1940s. The other is young, and beautiful but also more modern and demanding; she is Nora, the woman of the 1870s. Both of them weren’t happy with their lives, but only one of them, Nora, finds the strength to leave and change her life. And that is why the Linda was the victim of the capitalistic society, while Nora’s more of a feminist.
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. In Four Major Plays. Trans. James McFarlane and Jens Arup. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Seventh Edition. X.J. Kennedy, and Dana Gioia. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 1999. 1636-1707