Women’s Treatment in Death of a Salesman

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  • Topic: Betty Friedan, Marriage, The Feminine Mystique
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Women’s treatment in Death of a Salesman

December 11, 2012

Abstract

In our today’s men and women hold equal rights, however, in times prior to the 1950’s the majority of people would agree men held favorable positions and were said to be superior over women. Unfortunately this behavior still exists in countries. Arthur Miller’s, Death of a Salesman probes into these issues and solidifies how the past plagued woman. Miller categorizes women into two buckets; housewives or whores. The play gave good reason for women to take a look at their lives and essentially helped open their eyes. Some might even say it helped start the women’s movement.

Death of a Salesman

The play portrays women as being inferior to men and used as dispensable sex slaves. The Loman men possess this way of thinking. It started with early training from Willy Loman who taught them that they could achieve anything with good looks and popularity.

Happy demonstrated this several times through the play. For example, he called the first woman he had sex with a ‘pig’ (Miller, 1949, Pg 21). This behavior is very abusive and takes advantage of women to gain sexual pleasure. While Happy was talking to his brother Biff, he mentions that he’s sleeping with a soon to be married woman named Charlotte (Miller, 1949, Pg 25). Miller uses a very crude way of symbolizing adultery to show how people viewed women of this time period. Once again this clearly shows the unfavorable way women are seen. Happy’s measures his success by using women and labeling them as he has ranks from what he describes as the initial pig to a dog and finally calling women "gorgeous creatures" whom he can have "any time I want" (Miller, 1949, Pg 24-25), therefore proving to himself they are still "creatures," (Miller, 1949, Pg 25).

This symbolism shows that men have power because they can have sex with any women they choose. Happy proudly talking to his brother Biff, "I don't know what gets into...
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