Loving in order to protect an individual’s
Loving a person too much can often be deceiving. Failing to act upon the truth in order to protect an individual’s pride and emotions can bring about destruction for the American Dream. Lois Gordon’s quote about Linda is a good example of the disillusionment that many people experience when loving someone too much, when he says, “Linda, as the eternal wife and mother, the fixed point of affection both given and received, is, in many ways, the earth mother who embodies the play’s ultimate moral value–love. But in the beautiful, ironic complexity of her creation, she is also Willy’s destroyer.” In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman Linda continually suffers from Willy’s frustrations. Even so, she manages to be the loving woman who attempts to keep her family happy However, by covering up failures and protecting pride, Linda ironically ends up being the cause of Willy’s destruction.
Throughout the play, Linda suffers a great deal of stress from Willy’s feelings of disappointment. Willy’s impractical dreams have turned into a lifetime of frustrations. Disappointed and worried, Willy sometimes treats Linda cruelly or insensitively, but she understands the pain and fear behind his behavior, and forgives him in those moments. Willy is rude to Linda when he says, (page 65) “Will you let me talk? Don’t take his side all the time, goddammit!” When Biff responds to Willy’s discourteousness by furiously yelling at him, Linda sympathetically says, (page 65)“What’d you have to start that for? You see how sweet he was as soon as you talked hopefully? Come up and say good night to him. Don’t let him go to bed that way.” Even though Willy treats Linda sternly, she cares for him so much that she forgives and excuses his actions. Miller tells us, “she more than loves him, she admires him.” A man with as delicate a sense of self-worth as Willy cannot tolerate his wife’s discordance with him, so Linda has adjusted herself to ignore her own opinions in favor of her husband. Linda also suffers in the way that her sons do not give enough respect to Willy. She feels that Willy deserves at least the
respect of his sons when she says, (page 56) “Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person.” She is a good and understanding mother, but will not tolerate her sons disrespecting her beloved husband. After Linda finds out that Biff and Happy abandon their father in a restaurant for dates with women they’ve picked up, she loses control of her emotions and attacks both of them by shouting out, (page 124) “There’s no stranger you’d do that to! I don’t want you tormenting him anymore. You’re a pair of animals! Not one, not another living soul would have the cruelty to walk out on that man in a restaurant!” Accordingly, Linda is pushed to the brink of anxiety, as she tries ever so hard to keep her husband happy.
Even though Linda suffers through an emotional rollercoaster, she still assumes the role as the loving wife and symbolizes the values of love and devotion to the Loman family. “You’re my foundation and my support” (page 18) Willy tells Linda. Even then Willy understands Linda’s devotion to him. She is the model of a loving, devoted, and patient wife. Linda has always supported Willy in his illusions about himself and his achievements. Willy’s lapses turn Linda into an even sweeter and more amiable woman. Linda is also responsible to keep a clear picture of their finances. When Willy and Linda are talking about how much money Willy earned, she says, (page 35) “Two hundred-my God! Two hundred and twelve dollars!” A few moments later after Willy slowly explains how much he really made, Linda says, “Well, it makes seventy dollars and some
pennies. That’s very good.” When Willy boasts of big sales, Linda gently questions until she learns the truth, never showing any disapproval of him for exaggerating. She does the best she can with their meager income to pay their endless bills. Linda is Willy’s comfort and support. She believes in him completely, even in his fantasy of himself.In some respects, Linda has made a child of her husband, always indulgent and devoted to him. In this way, Linda is truly Willy’s guide, moral support, and comforter.
Linda avoids the truth with Willy by protecting and defending his pride and self-respect. By doing so, she is destroying all hopes of him becoming successful. She does this by constant reassuring, which leads to high and unrealistic hopes. This is evident when Linda says, (page 37) “But you’re doing wonderful dear. You’re making seventy to a hundred dollars a week.” Linda is only saying this because she does not want to destroy Willy’s spirit. She is reassuring him that he is doing great and that he is making enough money. In actuality, this is not the case because Willy is about 50 dollars
short of paying the month’s bills. By reassuring Willy, Linda is giving him a false sense of pride. To a certain extent, Willy believes he is better than he really is because of Linda. Linda’s defense and protection indirectly leads to her husband’s downfall. When Willy goes to Howard to ask for a job, Willy thinks he is better than he really is when he says, (page 82) “I put thirty-four years into this firm, Howard…. and in 1928 I had a big year. I averaged a hundred and seventy dollars a week in commissions.” If Willy knew the truth that he was not good enough to make it in the business, he would not have taken
the rejection so seriously. This false sense of reality leads to Willy’s epression and confusion on whether or not life is worth living anymore. When Ben comes and offers Willy a far-away job (page 85), Linda boycotts it, saying he ought to be satisfied with his wonderful position at home. Willy needed Linda’s unconditional approval, but ironically it may have prevented the one chance he had to escape to a more suitable way of life.
From beginning to end, Linda is the true care giver for the Loman family. However, Linda fails to realize that it’s not how much love is given; it is how love is given that is important. She uses her love as a protective barrier, in an effort to defend her family from the harsh reality. But in the inspiring, paradoxical intricacy of her character, she ends up being the source of Willy’s downfall. There is a lesson to be learned from Linda Loman: hiding the truth is not the proper way to love, for it does more bad than good. Even though the truth may hurt at that point in time, later on it will be realized hat the truth only helps benefit growth and development. The truth ultimately aids in restoring hopes and dreams. When people are able to grasp this concept of love, the American Dream will be feasible to anyone.