How Far Is Linda Complicit in Willy's Downfall in Death of a Salesman?

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Submitted By BigBoyBopit
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How does Miller convey Linda’s complicity in the tragedy and in the patterns of self-delusion?

In ‘Death of a Salesman’ Miller writes Linda’s situation as being one of an exceptionally difficult and intractable nature; we see that she is aware of Willy’s suicidal tendencies as well as his financial issues and yet keeps them to herself. Stuck in an invariably volatile relationship, Linda is shown to be doing her best for her husband and sons, yet struggles with the burden of responsibility. She seeks solace in what she deems to be the only way possible; almost by ignoring the problem rather than confront them. Whilst some may denounce Linda as a form of tragic villain, it seems more fitting to view her as a victim of circumstance, her failings in aiding Willy derived only from her well-intentioned yet misguided attempts to be there for him.
‘You’re my foundation and my support,” Willy tells Linda, only highlighting Linda’s profound devotion to him despite everything. Willy needs Linda to stay sane- she provides stability to his otherwise uncertain state. It would be expected then that Willy would pay Linda the utmost respect and reciprocal love, but we find this not to be the case; instead Willy treats her rather cruelly and even cheats on her. Why then does Linda stay with him? The answer is clear: she loves Willy unconditionally. Linda believes and supports Willy’s dreams to a great extent, even talking him out of the opportunity his brother Ben offered him in Alaska, choosing instead to encourage Willy’s career as a salesman with the Wagner firm. Maybe this is a mistake, but Linda like Willy is a firm believer in the American Dream, she believes success is based on material wealth so encourages Willy to continue down his own self-destructive path.
It could be said that the problem with Linda is not what she does, but what she doesn’t do; that’s to challenge…...

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