To begin with, both these literary works provide the reader with male and female characters. As for The White Heron, this story introduces female characters more vividly than the Death of a Salesman where male characters play a dominant role. The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast the way that Arthur Miller and Sarah Orne Jewett have chosen to depict male and female sexuality in their works.
It is relevant to start the analysis of these literary works with the story The White Heron where a female character whose name is Sylvia represents the image of the female sexuality. At first sight, it seems strange that a little girl may be displayed as an image of female sexuality but the authors mastery of writing allows the reader focusing on the main devices that reveal the fact that Sylvia is a creation of the entirely female world. The world where this girl dwells differs considerably from the normal one where there are men and women. From the very beginning of the story, the reader finds out that Sylvia does not have male relatives: father, uncles, brothers or grandfathers. She inhabits a rural environment only with her grandmother. Sylvia feels an overwhelming desire to stay in the wood and in the wild. Living in the countryside, she feels safe, despite the fact that eight years of her life she lived in the urban area. This girl is a true child of nature and her name Sylvia that means wood is used in support of this fact. She is pure, innocent and rather fearful. Her only friend is a domestic animal that is also female. It is a cow that like a mother plays with her and feeds her giving her milk.
Being an essential part of this female world, this little girl is afraid of a man-hunter who desires to demonstrate his superiority over nature. Nevertheless, Sylvia in her early years is a mature individual. The story describes how this girl grows up and transforms into a mature woman who can make important decisions. Living in poverty, this girl chooses to be devoted to nature rather than becoming rich. Her sexual awareness and maturity achieve the highest point when she decides to be a woman of nature. That is why she sees a potential danger in ornithologist. She does not agree with masculine values to conquer and to control the wildlife. Her feminine essence gives her a hint about the real values of her life. The bird should stay alive. In spite of all temptations, Sylvia was able to overcome them, although, this strange man with the gun seemed powerful and handsome to her. Jewett compares two characters that refer to different worlds: the hunter – a mature man who is the representative of the male world and Sylvia a little girl, a child of nature who represents the female world. Despite her age, Sylvia is a strong character who was capable of resisting temptation in order to save her feminine environment without any losses. Her female sexuality is in her ability not to run by temptations.
As for the Death of a Salesman, female characters play a typical role for the American society. For example, Linda Loman is a housewife who takes care of her husbands pleasure. She dwells in denial and sacrifices her life to make her husband happy. Linda desires to fulfill her wishes through her husband. She states that he will always be handsome and successful in her eyes. Certainly, she possesses a power that helped her to change some of his important decisions but she is not powerful enough to rule the whole family. In the eyes of Willy Loman, her husband, she is simply a housewife whose duty is to care for the familys wellbeing. He names her his foundation and support but he avoids speaking about his business with her.
Reading Happys and Biffs dialogues, the reader can notice the attitude of male characters to women. They see only sexual objects in them, thus, manifesting their masculine dominance. Talking to his sons, Willy also states the idea that self-image is extremely valuable in the modern American society. He believes that a real man should always make a positive impression on people who surround him. It is significant for him to be well-liked because it affects the reputation and success. Willy underlines that when a man arouses interest in others, he will certainly achieve his goals. Good reputation and impression are the keys to success. He always compares his sons with Adonis – a Greek god who was a symbol of beauty, prosperity and desire. Willy would like to see his sons as handsome, physically strong and seductive men who can easily make an impression on people. Happy is certainly the son of his father because he is a typical womanizer who aims to break womens hearts. In Willys mind, the person who aims to gain popularity should have nice appearance and charismatic personality. In present days, Willy is a man who is not content with his appearance but in his recollections and flashbacks, the reader may see him as a respected businessman and well-liked person who receives much attention from others. The reader may clearly understand that Willy simply wants to be such kind of person. Miller devotes much time to his recollections to compose the complete image of this character and to give the reader to understand how he sees the male sexuality. So, the man should be attractive, handsome, charismatic and well-liked to be a good example of male sexuality.
In conclusion, it is important to mention that these literary works present different types of male and female sexuality. In The White Heron, Jewett depicts a little girl who grows up in the readers eyes as a mature woman who is capable of making important decisions that may change the life of the whole world. Sylvia is described as a strong-willed girl who can resist the temptation and reject the hunters suggestion to find and to kill the heron and her sexuality manifests in her mature actions.
On the contrary, Miller describes a woman only as a housewife who serves her family and her husband. She has a desire to make decisions and rule the family but she cannot enjoy equal rights with men who are described as strong and handsome. It is important to them to dominate the women seeing them only as sexual objects. The desirable image for Willy is Adonis who is famous for his beauty, nice physical appearance, and youth. The purpose of this man in the Death of a Salesman is to be well-respected businessman who makes nice impression and attracts attention.