Theme Of Masculinity In Death Of A Salesman

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Following World War Two, the Nuclear Family was the American Dream. The hard working husband financially supports his happy housewife, and roughly 2.5 children. Men comprised roughly 66.1% of the workforce, and were generally the only source of income for their family. Women stayed home, took care of the children and made sure the house was welcoming for their husbands. The housewife’s life was determined by her husband; in exchange for financial security, she provided everything he would need. The startling sexist views of post-war America led to a society where men constantly needed to feel masculine. Being able to support a family gave a status of being a ‘real man’, while those who failed were deemed helpless. In Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman, the main character Willy Loman battles all his life to support his family, to keep his job and to meet societal expectations of masculinity. Throughout the play, Willy’s mental health begins to deteriorate. He fights to maintain his dignity in the face of his wife, children and boss. Mental illness in men was scarcely discussed in the late 1940s, and was heavily stigmatized by the public. Women who showed too much emotion were assumed to be ‘hysterical’, and thrown in the ‘nuthouse’. But men were groomed to never express emotion, or ask for help of any kind. Willy’s failure to meet the high standards men were held to during post-war America led to a debilitating psychological impacts from guilt and humiliation that eventually
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