Death of a Salesman's character Linda is an instrument in analyzing the play through a Feminist lens. Linda, the only woman mentioned by name within the play, is overlooked and forsaken. The entire play is centered on Willy and what Willy desires. Linda is merely a tool he uses in order to enhance his own personal happiness. This is seen through Willy’s affair and symbolic use of stockings. Willy selfishly cheats on his loyal wife and buys “the woman” new stockings. Later, Linda is seen mending old stockings because she is too kind to burden Willy with needing new ones and because she assumes it is her duty to keep things together—including her stockings. Willy obviously neglects his wife’s need for new stockings revealing woman’s “second rate” place within society. Willy also takes advantage of Linda’s “infinite patience” (17), and makes decisions solely based on himself because he is aware of this attribute within Linda. Further, the fact Linda is completely oblivious to Willy’s affair displays her as “stupid”—or at least not as intelligent as Willy who is able to hide it from her.
In addition, Linda is an extreme pacifist and is portrayed as frail and unable to defend herself. Even though her children were young and merely goofing around, when they start to tackle one another, she frantically exclaims “Why are you fighting?” (49). Through the character of Linda, Miller is constantly trying to put woman within a box. Very literally, Linda is never seen leaving the house! She is subject to a cycle of taking care of Willy, Laundry, protecting peace within the house, cooking, cleaning, “mend[ing] the lining of Willy’s jacket” (53), and rarely sleeping. Despite the fact Linda holds the family together, she often even overlooked by the reader because she seems to lack any substance. She appears to merely be a “nice” housewife and mother without any backbone—a role woman have been forced into for centuries and only recently have been able to break free of.
Also, Linda very literally makes no distinction between herself and Willy. When Biff is angry at Willy, Linda states “Biff, dear, if you don’t have any feeling for him, then you can’t have any feeling for me” (55). Even when Linda is “angry,” her speech lacks passion as she refers to Biff as “dear.” Miller suggests those women are not only to be submissive to men, but truly have no identity apart from them! Not only that, but they apparently “hold men back.” When Willy longs to go out to Alaska for a life of adventure, Linda begs him to “stay with her and the children.” Though Willy does stay, he outright tells Linda multiple times he regrets he didn’t her. Even when he does not literally say anything, his actions often show he resents her for it. Essentially women are in a “lose lose” situation in life. A woman only has purpose in a man, yet she will “hold the man back” so he inevitably will resent her—so either way, woman is destined for a life trying to “work” for her husband’s “love.” Men not only rule the world, but within this play, are the only people who even matter.