Linda Loman is the loyal, caring, trusting, patient wife of Willy Loman. She deeply loves both her children and is like the heart of the family, keeping it together and striving to maintain a good relationship between its members. “Most often jovial, she has developed an iron repression of her exceptions to Willy’s behavior- she more than loves him, she admires him.” Linda is one of the very few people who truly understand Willy.
Despite his irritable and often cruel behavior towards her, she is empathetic and provides him with unconditional love and care, and treats him with “infinite patience.”She always tries her best to fulfill Willy’s emotional needs, and is encouraging and supportive of him. Linda also sees through her husband’s lies, yet she is extremely careful not to injure his feeble self-confidence and pride, and hence does not point them out.
For instance, when Willy claims to have earned seven hundred gross in Boston and five hundred gross in Providence, Linda immediately makes out that he is exaggerating, and she tactfully gets the truth out of him, learning he has actually earned only two hundred gross in the whole trip. Linda is also aware of Willy’s suicidal tendencies, but does not confront him, fearing it may upset him even more. However, this knowledge keeps her in a constant state of anxiety about Willy, and she lives “from day to day.”
Linda is extremely protective towards Willy. Often, when Willy expresses his true feelings and insecurities to Linda, she immediately showers him with encouraging comments to bring him out of his melancholy.
For instance, when Willy tells Linda that he is fat and “very foolish to look at”, Linda consoles him, saying,”Willy, darling, you’re the handsomest man in the world.” Linda is also fiercely defensive about her husband, and defends him against her own children.
She feels extremely responsible towards him, and desperately tells her sons, “So attention must be paid. He is not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog.” Linda tells Biff and Happy that they cannot come to the house only to visit her, as she loves him.
She questions them, if the reward for Willy’s hard work and struggle is to find both his sons unsuccessful. Often, when Biff attempts to bring Willy out of his delusions, Linda stops him from doing so. “Will you please leave him alone?” However, Linda’s protective nature and her habit of nurturing and tending to his fragile ego unintentionally causes more harm than good, as it encourages Willy to continue to live in his imaginary world with his over glorified self image.
This in turn makes it more difficult for Willy to come out of his delusions, and he ends up becoming increasingly confused and unable to differentiate between his reality and hallucinations.
Linda is either completely oblivious to Willy’s affair with The Woman, or has purposefully repressed any hints that she may have got about it. She thus does not understand why Willy and Biff aren’t “such pals” as they were before. She is contradictory to The Woman in certain respects.
The Woman represents materialistic, selfish desire and lust, while Linda on the other hand, truly and unconditionally loves Willy. The Woman is a symbol for Willy’s thirst and desperation for social approval, while in the meanwhile he fails to recognize the endless support and approval that Linda constantly provides him.
Thus, although Linda loves Willy unconditionally, and her intentions are pure, she ends up damaging his ego, and even indirectly causing his death. Despite knowing Willy’s flaws very well, she does little to help him out of his façade. Instead, she supports and even adds to his lies, thus creating such an enormous gulf between his ideal self and his actual self, that when reality is forced upon him, it is so overwhelming and unbearable to him that he ends his own life.
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