On Marriage, Fidelity, and the Question of Loyalty:
Comparing and Contrasting Hillary Clinton and Linda Loman
Two of the most discussed women in history are found in separate realms made available to the public: in the romanticized, imagined world of literature; and the open universe and hard facts of American politics. Both are often studied and scrutinized by scholars and critics, and have been subject to all forms of interpretations allowed by the human mind. These are Linda Loman, the stereotypical American wife and mother, willing to go to great lengths to protect her family—specially her husband; and Hillary Clinton, wife to former US President Bill Clinton, and the embodiment of woman in modern America.
Both represent the quintessential American ideal of a woman’s role as wife and mother, albeit in different ways. But their differences meet at a common point, a singularity that tested and revealed their strength of character; both women’s husbands had committed infidelity, and the resulting support they provided bode well for the continuance of the concept of marriage, family, and loyalty.
However, the circumstances surrounding Linda and Hillary could not be any more distinct—and this is where the discussion will be based. Ultimately, the arguments presented will prove the appropriateness and effectiveness of Linda’s decisions, or Hillary’s.
II. Marriage and Its Milieu
Linda Loman and Hillary Clinton both set out to be picture-perfect complements to their husbands’ successes: Linda, to her husband Willy, a salesman in “Death of A Salesman” (Miller 1297-1367) who had experienced career triumphs; and Hillary, to Bill Clinton, one of the most popular presidents of the United States. Both had offspring, Linda’s Biff and Happy, and Hillary’s Chelsea. Other than these, the background details of both women completely vary, specifically on the bounds of education, values, and time. With Death of A Salesman written and produced in 1949, Linda was of the standard expectations of women, which was to keep a home and nurture the family, and act as staunch support for their husbands. Also, she had little or no understanding of the possible psychological problems her husband was going through, even with the suicidal tendencies and bouts of hallucination. Hillary, on the other hand, has collegiate academic excellence and a law degree under her belt (“Hillary Rodham Clinton”, pars. 2-4), and expanded her role as mother to include the state of Arkansas, and eventually the whole country. Each woman chose different paths in terms of career and occupation, but both satisfyingly fulfilled their expected duties as wife and mother—at least as reported.
III. The Issue of Infidelity
As the play’s narrative would have it, Linda Loman never discovered Willy’s affair with The Woman, implied to be one of his clients. It was their son Biff who did, and his reaction to it was nothing short of dramatic. Compare this to Hillary’s public reaction to Bill Clinton’s admission to his sexual trysts with intern Monica Lewinsky, a scandal that rocked the Clinton government; she was never shown to express any untoward feelings regarding the issue.
Then again the differences between the two women are in action at this point; while Linda never discovered her husband’s affair, it may be assumed that she would not take it as violently as Biff did. Her loyalty to her husband and the role given her as wife and mother would have stopped her from doing anything rash, like threaten to leave the home or create a scandal. She would have been accepting of Willy’s faults, as she had with his troubles related to his job and his distorted reality. Hillary, of the high education and respect for her husband’s public office, faced a situation that would have tried the most loyal of wives; but her ability to exercise reason over emotion, brought upon by her exposure to knowledge.
But the main issue is infidelity—the one unwanted occurrence in any marriage—and is often enough reason for a couple’s separation. However, considering the motivations of both women, whether for the sake of family or country, infidelity may be relegated to a position easily forgiven. And considering how Linda Loman is but a mere figment of the creative mind of Arthur Miller, odds are with Hillary on the question of strength and forgiveness—made not without lessons imparted to Bill Clinton.
IV. Loyalty vs. Self-Respect
Criticisms of the actions of both women may be seen in the context of self-respect; however, the dominating factor would be permutations of loyalty, to self, family, and country. Linda was never given the chance to discover her husband’s ills, but clearly it is loyalty that carries her through, in many ways. The inquiry about her self-respect will result in arguable terms, since Linda was simply patterned against the woman of the 1940s, whose choices were relatively limited and mandated.
While some may argue that Hillary Clinton possibly had only loyalty and no self-respect, it would be efficient to analyze her environment—completely public, prone to over-exposure, with her or her husband’s actions making the whole political system quite vulnerable. Education, without this particular setting, may have led Hillary to file for divorce straightaway; after all, she was the aggrieved party. But it takes a person of exceptional intelligence to understand the consequences of one’s actions, in this case, loss of confidence in Bill Clinton’s government, and disillusionment in the ideals of family and marriage. The choices available to Hillary were plentiful—some of which may have included opportunities to hold public office—and she preferred to take on the less aggressive stance, which demonstrated her level of maturity and self-confidence.
Marriage is the union of two individuals, bound by mutual love, trust, and respect for each other. Though this has remained unquestioned throughout the years, the change in level of knowledge and education in either party ultimately plays a significant role in modifying the essence of marriage. Because of this, it is no longer typical to accept things as they are, without question, and provide the needed support for a spouse as Linda Loman did. Reason and logic are needed to combine with love, understanding and acceptance for support to make sense; and this is exactly how Hillary conducted herself through the whole Lewinsky debacle.
It then would be safe to assume that a woman’s sense of self, independent of her husband, allows for behavior that surpasses the typical and expected. Hillary Clinton is therefore the prime example of the modern American woman; on an equal level with her husband, yet with the ability to comprehend and accept human foibles without subscribing to the conventions of society.
“Hillary Rodham Clinton”. The White House. 24 February 2009
Miller, Arthur. “Death of a Salesman”. Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and
the Essay. Ed. Robert DiYanni. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1990. 1297-1367.
Cite this Compare of Hillary Clinton and Linda Loman
Compare of Hillary Clinton and Linda Loman. (2016, Oct 06). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/compare-of-hillary-clinton-and-linda-loman/