Linda Loman: The Neglectful Killer Essay

3562 words - 14 pages

The Lomans are a classic American family with simple roles that are each carefully assigned to their respective characters. Willy is portrayed as the classic primary breadwinner. A salesman, he struggles as an aging man in a rapidly-changing modern world. Biff is the estranged oldest sibling whose enigmatic past is discovered throughout the play. His return puts constant stress on everyone in the Loman household, as his intentions are never quite made clear. Happy is the neglected younger sibling struggling to live up to the ideals that his father failed to embody. He basks in the attention of his father. Linda Loman, however, is another story. On the surface, she appears to be a devoted wife who struggles to keep her family together despite the dysfunction. Linda’s fatal flaw, which contributes directly to Willy’s, is that her efforts indirectly cause, as well as perpetuate, the dysfunction that she is attempting to bring to a conclusion. In reality, Linda is a passive enabler who allows Willy to persist in self-destructive behavior by providing excuses or contrariwise taking no action, thus making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior. She appears to sincerely have Willy’s best interest at heart, which puts more stress on her as his mental state deteriorates throughout the play. Though her sons plead without her throughout the book, Willy’s outbursts cause her a state of distress which leads to her putting more stress on the family as a whole: Happy for his inability to face the reality of their situation, and Biff for his inability to hold a job and settle down. But it is Willy who is impacted by her actions the most. He sees how much his wife struggles to hold their dysfunctional family together, and it causes his guilt to reach a severity that becomes unbearable and leads to the conclusion of the play. Even upon the death of her husband, Linda Loman remains as passive as ever.
The play opens as Willy Loman enters the house after a long day on the road, and he is in a state of delusion. He is discovered by his devoted, supportive wife, Linda, who has been waiting up for him to return home. In a worried tone, Willy voices his concerns over his ability to drive to his wife, who brushes off his confession as if it were a minor ordeal, when, in reality “the car kept going off onto the shoulder” (Miller 13) and he “nearly hit a kid in Yonkers” (Miller 41). The conversation progresses as Linda attempts to convince Willy that his inability to drive is caused not by his failing eyesight and waning attention span, but the family car being in a state of disrepair and his prescription eyeglasses needing to be replaced. In a futile attempt to console her husband, she informs him that his mind is “over-active, and the mind is what counts” (Miller 13), as if a nap will remedy his ailing mental state. Willy expresses his concern about the finer details of his job to Linda, including the cessation of his salary and him being...

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