Disturbed Gender Relation and Dysfunctional Family in Death of a Salesman

In the play Death of a Salesman, the disturbed gender relationships led the dysfunctional family behavior. Once there was a nice relationship between Biff and Willy Loman. Willy had seen a great potentiality in Biff. Willy was quite hopeful that Biff can become a qualified figure for the American dream.

Arthur Miller (1915-2005)

Biff was reckoned by Willy as a qualified figure capable of translating dreams into reality. Hoping that if a proper atmosphere be given Biff can easily accomplish his dream, Willy gave as much freedom as Biff liked. Biff was happy to get so much love and freedom from his father. So Biff took Willy Loman as a role model. Biff idolized Willy. Willy thus became a path to success. In this way harmonious understanding developed between Biff and Willy Loman. But one day Biff happened to see his father enjoying with a girl in a hotel. Both Willy and the woman with whom he was enjoying felt embarrassed. Biff saw that his father had given a costly silk stocking to her. That is a secret cause behind the financial strain on Loman family. Willy had been accepted by Biff Loman as an ideal figure. Having seen his immoral liaison with that woman, Biffs attitude towards his father changed permanently. Biff knew that even such a highly admired and idolized man like Willy Loman had feet of clay. The fact that his father is guilty of infidelity tortured Biff. From that moment onward Biff began to hate his father. On account of the distorted and disturbed relationship between Willy Loman and Biff Loman, the family structure began to crumble. The Loman family began to reveal dysfunctional behavior Willy had compared Happy with Biff, and found out that Happy lags far behind in terms of Biffs immense potentiality. In comparison to Biff Happy was far behind. So Willy began to give more attention to Biff and less attention to Happy. This discriminatory act of Willy Loman infuriated Happy. That is why Happy did not show respect to his father when Willy was on the brink of suicide. This hatred-ridden relationship between Willy and Happy created an instability in the structure of Loman family.

Although Happy and Biff had wished to get an ideal father, their wish dwindled down when Biff witnessed his father's immoral act, and when Happy saw his father's discriminatory act. But Biff and Happy did not become disillusioned when their quest for an ideal figure ended in an embarrassing experience. They gave continuity to their ideal quest. They took Linda as an embodiment of an ideal woman, a good woman. But they did not come across women as good as their mother. So, they just treated women whom they met as a means of enjoyment, just a disposable item. This proclivity (bad habit) to treat women as disposable item was acquired by Biff and Happy from their father Willy Loman.

Because both Biff and Happy had picked this proclivity up, they went to the extent of neglecting their father also when their father visited them in a hotel on an evening.

Linda had rebuked both Biff and Happy because they had neglected their father. Many critics have agreed with a conclusive remark, that Willy Loman committed suicide because the facts regarding Willy's extramarital affair was on the brink of revelation. Had this truth concerning his extramarital affair been revealed to Linda, she might have been shocked, and her entire habit of loyal devotion to Willy Loman might have changed unexpectedly.

Therefore, it is clear that Loman's family dysfunctioned. This dysfunctional family revealed neurotic, imbalanced and deviated behavior. The distorted gender relationship seems to be a root cause behind the deterioration of Loman family.

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