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Masculine Bravado in Death of a Salesman and A Streetcar Named Desire Essay

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What is it to be a man? Masculinity is defined and characterized differently across cultures and time – there is no “global” standard. In some cultures, being a man may mean being comfortable with both your masculine and feminine sides or it could suggest being “tough” and not letting your feelings show at all. Manliness can be demonstrated in some cultures by providing for a family through work, and in others, it might mean scoring the winning goal in a championship game. It is not an easy thing to define an entire gender based on the arbitrary set of ever-changing social and cultural norms, but somehow- it still happens. Trying to define one’s own masculinity and live up to its standards is a tough and grueling task that many men struggle with. Maintaining this masculine bravado is something that the male characters in both Death of a Salesman and A Streetcar Named Desire are familiar with. In fact, they are so immersed in fulfilling the masculine requirements they feel are required of them that, to a degree, masculinity becomes a fundamental character flaw for both Willy Loman and Stanley Kowalski.
In both of these iconic works, the leading male figures are both examples of men whom are trying to or are embracing their achieved masculinity. Both Loman and Kowalski are examples of a ‘man’s man,’ the kind of men that are commonly looked upon for guidance on all things machismo. Both of the men are set apart from those around them due to their stature and their way of living. Stanley’s friends and Willy’s sons all flock to them for advice or sometimes even their conformation on topics or actions. This is not necessarily because they are intelligent or that they believe in the men’s philosophies, but is due to the fact that Sta...


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...'s Studies Rereading of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman." Revista De Estudios Norteamericanos 10 (2004): 21-46. Academic Search Premier. Web. 07 Apr. 2013.
Cardullo, Robert J. "Selling in American Drama, 1946-49." Academic Search Complete. EBSCO, 01 Sept. 2007. Web. 07 Apr. 2013.
Gros, Emmeline. The Southern Gentleman and the Idea of Masculinity: Figures and Aspects of the Southern Beau in the Literary Tradition of the American South. Diss. Georgia State University, 2010. N.p.: Digital Archive @ GSU, 2010. Academic Search Premier. Web. 07 Apr. 2013.
Miller, Arthur. "Death of a Salesman." 1949. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 8th ed. Vol. E. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. 238-303. Print.
Williams, Tennessee. "A Streetcar Named Desire." 1947. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 8th ed. Vol. E. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. 93-155. Print.


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