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Women in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman

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Women in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman


The part of Stella and Linda are both archetypal female figures in
that they follow the typical fictional role of the submissive wife and
mother. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Stella DuBois (renamed Mrs.
Stanley Kowalski) supports and forgives her husband, defending him
against any criticism. Likewise, in Death of a Salesman, Linda - the
only female character with any import - is a meek, timid figure around
her husband. This weakness is underscored by the sentence structure
and diction that each character uses when in conflict with their
husband. As both Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller are men, it can
be seen that their female characters tend to be what men would desire
in women, without giving a too-accurate portrayal of an actual person.
Stella and Linda are both symbols of the deferential wife and mother,
not convincing portraits of women.

Stella and Linda are both thought of only in relation to the other
characters. They exist to support their husbands and defend them from
other characters. Both Stella and Linda attempt to blind themselves to
their husbands' flaws, and apologize to other characters for their
husbands' actions. When Stanley gets drunk, smashes the radio and
window, and hits Stella, Stella must apologize to Blanche for
Stanley's behavior: "He's half-drunk!"; "He didn't know what he was
doing... He was as good as a lamb when I came back and he's really
very, very ashamed of himself." All that Stella can do is make excuses
for his behavior, not blaming him for anything: "People have got to
tolerate each others' habits, I guess." It is in this scene (4) that
the audience truly sees Stella...


... middle of paper ...


...laces, especially in scene 3: "All of you
- please go home! If any one of you have one spark of decency in
you-"; "You lay your hands on me and I'll-". This is realistic for
some women who are submissive to their husbands, more so than perhaps
the characters' actions, but the portrayal of the women characters as
weak and wavering spouses is not realistic when it is the only female
element.

There are no strong female characters in either A Streetcar Named
Desire of Death of a Salesman. Stella and Linda are dutiful wives,
inferior to their husbands, who forgive and support them in spite of
abuse. This is shown by their change in sentence structure and
diction. Perhaps some males desire unconditional support and surrender
from their wives, but to portray all females as weak women at the
every beck and call of their husbands is unrealistic and inaccurate.


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