Linda Loman is a flat, undeveloped character, a foil for the main character in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” (1262). Linda, his wife, has stirred in her bed at the right. She gets out and puts on a robe, listening. Most often jovial, she has developed an iron repression of her exceptions to Willy’s behavior – she more than loves him, she admires him, as though his mercurial temper, his massive dreams and little cruelties, served her only as sharp reminders of the turbulent longings within him, longings which she shares but lacks the temperament to utter and follow to their end. (1263) In his stage directions the playwright gives a brief characterization of Linda -- and even here she is described by how she is not Willy. Miller tells us that she is “most often jovial” although this is not borne out on stage; by the time we meet her she is living in fear that her husband will commit suicide. We know very little about Linda. What she says, her actions in the play, all serve to tell us something about Willie. But, what can we infer? That Linda serves Willy – she bends down and takes off his shoes for him, because his feet hurt, not because he is unable – is symbolic of his place (and hers) within the family. The head of the family is given – is owed – a certain respect: it is his labor feeds them all. It is her job to keep the house, to cook and clean, to keep his clothes in repair, and to make small economies and sacrifices, like darning her stockings, and giving up hair dye. It is also her job to keep the peace, to smooth over the tangles in Willy’s relationships with his sons. She is the glue that holds the family together. The Loman marriage reminds me of my parents-in-law. They lived in the New York area, married in the 1940’s, and had three sons. It was his job to provide for the family; it was her job to manage the house, and to wait on him. He was the Lord and Ruler, a bit of a tyrant, really. He had an opinion...
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