Never willing to accept defeat before her husband does, Linda Loman deals with her family on a daily basis. She has a husband, Willy who is a salesman searching to achieve the American dream both for himself and his sons, whom he quarrels with as much as he loves them. But Willy is getting old, and fear of his yet to be accomplished goals seem to speak to Linda. Some critics claim that Linda is “above self-pity” and that “her confidence in him is unshaken”. Others complain that she “offers more encouragement than understanding”. The reason for all the opposing ideas is because Arthur Miller effectively leads the readers to contradict our first impression of Linda. In the play “Death of a Salesman”, the author Arthur Miller transforms Linda Loman from a frightened but encouraging victim to a manipulative villain who is hindering Willy’s American dream.
When Linda first comes out in the play, she is described as a wife who is used to accepting her husband’s behavior and his dreams and sudden mood swings. In one paragraph on pg. 12, even before she enters the play, the reader has the impression that maybe she is already a victim. As she talks to the disappointed Willy about his day, Miller indicates with stage directions that Linda is careful with her actions and words, but in a supportive way. It seems that she might be frightened by him or at the fact that Willy is fragile. We see this on pg. 13 in stage directions such as “very carefully, delicately”, “helpfully”, and even Linda helps Willy take off his shoes. Linda also describes her son Biff, as crestfallen and explains to Willy that their son is trying to find himself (pg. 15, “He’s crestfallen…if he finds himself, then you’ll both be happier”). Throughout the beginning, Linda only wants to ease family tensions without choosing sides. She is thought of as caring and perhaps innocent.
However, as the play progresses, new questions arise and we start to doubt our confidence in Linda Loman. She is more upset about Will’s salary than he is of himself and we see that in her later speech given to the sons on pg. 56, “…and now in his old age they take his salary away”. Linda is manipulating Willy by encouraging him to stick with his job and not allowing him to find himself the way she complained about her own son, Biff. All that has been bothering her is the issue of financial security, and it is here, later in the play where we discover how her hipocrasy forces the reader to flip back in order to check out points missed before. She has transformed into something new, displaying her greed. She does not encourage rather she manipulates, and that is what makes her such a debatable character.