The wife in “Death of a Salesman”

March 7, 2012

Caretaker? Enabler? Helpmate?

All wives are caretakers; they are responsible for meals and clean laundry.

The enabler wife, on the other hand, indulges her husband in his weaknesses and failures where he wallows. She rationalizes with him and is undemanding.

Then there is the helpmate who builds up her husband’s morale to go out and fight another day for what he wants.

In the first act of  Arthur Miller’s play “Death of a Salesman,” the wife Linda is a long-suffering, exhausted caretaker wife. She is not an enabler because she sees her husband for exactly what he is. No excuses, no rationale. She sees a mediocre man, but a man who has tried.

“I don’t say he’s a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He’s not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person.”

“A small man but just as exhausted as a great man. He works for a company thirty-six years this March, open s up unheard-of territories to their trademark, and now in his old age they take his salary away.”

Linda would like to be a helpmate rather than merely a caretaker, but Willy is preoccupied with his failed  son; he does not see her; she is invisible.

You will be able to decide which kind of wife Rosa is in THE PROVIDER.