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(Understanding Arthur Miller by Alice Griffin1996 (1-4

Arthur miller a critical study by Christopher Bigsby 2005 (8-

(Arthur Asher Miller (1915-2005

Arthur Asher Miller was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent
figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include awards-winning plays such as
All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, and The Crucible.

Miller was often in the public eye, particularly during the late 1940s, 1950s and early
1960s, a period during which he testified before the House Un-American Activities
Committee, received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and was married to Marilyn

Arthur Miller was the second of three children of Isidore and Talal Miller, who were
Polish-Jewish immigrants. His father, an illiterate but wealthy businessman, owned a
women's clothing store employing 400 people. The family, including his younger
sister Joan, lived on East 110th Street in Manhattan and owned a summer house in Far
Rockaway, Queens. They employed a chauffeur. In the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the
family lost almost everything and moved to Gravesend, Brooklyn. As a teenager,
Miller delivered bread every morning before school to help the family make ends
meet. After graduating in 1932 from Abraham Lincoln High School, he worked at
several menial jobs to pay for his college tuition.

At the University of Michigan, Miller first majored in journalism and worked as a
reporter and night editor for the student paper, the Michigan Daily. It was during this
time that he wrote his first work, No Villain. Miller switched his major to English, and
subsequently won the Avery Hopwood Award for No Villain. He was mentored by
Professor Kenneth Rowe, who instructed him in his early forays into playwriting.
Miller retained strong ties to his alma mater throughout the rest of his life,
establishing the university's Arthur Miller Award in 1985 and Arthur Miller Award for
Dramatic Writing in 1999, and lending his name to the Arthur Miller Theatre in 2000.
In 1937, Miller wrote Honors at Dawn, which also received the Avery Hopwood

In 1938, Miller received a BA in English. After graduation, he joined the Federal
Theater Project, a New Deal agency established to provide jobs in the theater. He
chose the theater project although he had an offer to work as a scriptwriter for 20th
Century Fox. However, Congress, worried about possible Communist infiltration,
closed the project. Miller began working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard while continuing
to write radio plays, some of which were broadcast on CBS.
On August 5, 1940, he married his college sweetheart, Mary Slattery, the Catholic
daughter of an insurance salesman. The couple had two children, Jane and Robert.
Miller was exempted from military service during World War II because of a high-
school American football injury to his left kneecap. Robert, a writer and film director,
produced the 1996 movie version of The Crucible.

In 1940 Miller wrote The Man Who Had All the Luck, which was produced in New
Jersey in 1940 and won the Theater Guild's National Award. The play closed after
four performances and diastrous reviews. In his book Trinity of Passion, author Alan
M. Wald conjectures that Miller was "a member of a writer's unit of the Communist
Party around 1946", using the pseudonym Matt Wayne, and editing a drama column
in the magazine The New Masses. In 1946 Miller's play All My Sons, the writing of
which had commenced in 1941, was a success on Broadway (earning him his first
Tony Award, for Best Author) and his reputation as a playwright was established.

In 1948 Miller built a small studio in Roxbury, Connecticut, a town that was to be his
long time home. There, in less than a day, he wrote Act I of Death of a Salesman.
Within six weeks, he completed the rest of the play, one of the classics of world
theater. Death of a Salesman premiered on Broadway on February 10, 1949 at the
Morosco Theatre, directed by Elia Kazan, and starring Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman,
Mildred Dunnock as Linda, Arthur Kennedy as Biff, and Cameron Mitchell as Happy.
The play was commercially successful and critically acclaimed, winning a Tony
Award for Best Author, the New York Drama Circle Critics' Award, and the Pulitzer
Prize for Drama. It was the first play to win all three of these major awards. The play
was performed 742 times.

In 1952, Kazan appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee
(HUAC); fearful of being blacklisted from Hollywood, Kazan named eight members
of the Group Theatre, including Clifford Odets, Paula Strasberg, Lillian Hellman, Joe
Bromberg, and John Garfield, who in recent years had been fellow members of the
Communist Party. After speaking with Kazan about his testimony Miller traveled to
Salem, Massachusetts to research the witch trials of 1692. The Crucible, an allegorical
play in which Miller likened the situation with the House Un-American Activities
Committee to the witch hunt in Salem, opened at the Beck Theatre on Broadway on
January 22, 1953. Though widely considered only somewhat successful at the time of
its initial release, today The Crucible is Miller's most frequently produced work
throughout the world and was adapted into an opera by Robert Ward which won the
Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1962. Miller and Kazan remained close friends throughout
the late 1940s and early 1950s, but after Kazan's testimony to HUAC, the pair's
friendship ended, and they did not speak to each other for the next ten years. HUAC
took an interest in Miller himself not long after The Crucible opened, denying him a
passport to attend the play's London opening in 1954. Kazan defended his own
actions through his film On the Waterfront, in which a dockworker heroically testifies
against a corrupt union boss.

Miller's experience with HUAC affected him throughout his life. In the late 1970s he
became very interested in the highly publicized Barbara Gibbons murder case, in
which Gibbons' son Peter Reilly was convicted of his mother's murder based on what
many felt was a coerced confession and little other evidence. City Confidential, an
A&E Network program about the murder, postulated that part of the reason Miller
took such an active interest (including supporting Reilly's defense and using his own
celebrity to bring attention to Reilly's plight) was because he had felt similarly
persecuted in his run-in with the HUAC. He sympathized with Reilly, whom he firmly
believed to be innocent and to have been railroaded by the Connecticut State Police
and the Attorney General who had initially prosecuted the case.

In 1956 a one-act version of Miller's verse drama, A View From The Bridge, opened
on Broadway in a joint bill with one of Miller's lesser-known plays, A Memory of Two
Mondays. The following year, Miller returned to A View from the Bridge, revising it
into a two-act prose version, which Peter Brook produced in London.

In June 1956 Miller left his first wife Mary Slattery, and on June 29, he married
Marilyn Monroe. Miller and Monroe had first met in April 1951, when they had a
brief affair, and had remained in contact since then.

When Miller applied 1956 for a routine renewal of his passport, the HUAC used this
opportunity to subpoena him to appear before the committee. Before appearing,
Miller asked the committee not to ask him to name names, to which the chairman

When Miller attended the hearing, to which Monroe accompanied him, risking her
own career, he gave the committee a detailed account of his political activities
(leaving out the fact that he was a party member). Reneging on the chairman's
promise, the committee asked him to reveal the names of friends and colleagues who
had partaken in similar activities. Miller refused to comply with the request, saying "I
could not use the name of another person and bring trouble on him." As a result a
judge found Miller guilty of contempt of Congress in May 1957. Miller was fined
$500, sentenced to thirty days in prison, blacklisted, and disallowed a U.S. passport.
In 1958 his conviction was overturned by the court of appeals, which ruled that Miller
had been misled by the chairman of HUAC.

For a while, Miller wrote under the pen name "Jonathan Lovelett," but eventually
went back to publishing under his real name. After his conviction was overturned,
Miller began work on The Misfits, starring his wife. Miller said that the filming was
one of the lowest points in his life, and shortly before the film's premiere in 1961, the
pair divorced. Nineteen months later, Monroe died of an apparent drug overdose.

Miller married photographer Inge Morath on February 17, 1962, and the first of their
two children, Rebecca, was born that September. Their son Daniel was born with
Down Syndrome in November 1966, and was consequently institutionalized and
excluded from the Millers' personal life at Arthur's insistence. The couple remained
together until Inge's death in 2002. Arthur Miller's son-in-law, actor Daniel Day-
Lewis is said to have visited Daniel frequently, and to have persuaded Arthur Miller to
reunite with his adult son.
In 1964 Miller's next play was produced. After the Fall is a deeply personal view of
Miller's experiences during his marriage to Monroe. The play reunited Miller with his
former friend Kazan: they collaborated on both the script and the direction. After the
Fall opened on January 23, 1964 at the ANTA Theatre in Washington Square Park
amid a flurry of publicity and outrage at putting a Monroe-like character, called
Maggie, on stage. That same year, Miller produced Incident at Vichy. In 1965, Miller
was elected the first American president of International PEN, a position which he
held for four years. During this period Miller wrote the penetrating family drama, The
Price, produced in 1968. It was Miller's most successful play since Death of a

In 1969, Miller's works were banned in the Soviet Union after he campaigned for the
freedom of dissident writers. Throughout the 1970s, Miller spent much of his time
experimenting with the theatre, producing one-act plays such as Fame and The
Reason Why, and traveling with his wife, producing In The Country and Chinese
Encounters with her. Both his 1972 comedy The Creation of the World and Other
Business and its musical adaptation, Up from Paradise, were critical and commercial

In 1983, Miller traveled to the People's Republic of China to produce and direct
Death of a Salesman at the People's Art Theatre in Beijing. The play was a success in
China and in 1984, Salesman in Beijing, a book about Miller's experiences in Beijing,
was published. Around the same time, Death of a Salesman was made into a TV
movie starring Dustin Hoffman as Willy Loman. Shown on CBS, it attracted 25
million viewers. In late 1987, Miller's autobiographical work, Timebends, was
published. Before it was published, it was well-known that that Miller would not talk
about Monroe in interviews; in Timebends Miller talks about his experiences with
Monroe in detail. During the early 1990s Miller wrote three new plays, The Ride
Down Mt. Morgan (1991), The Last Yankee (1992), and Broken Glass (1994). In
1996, a film of The Crucible starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder opened.
Miller spent much of 1996 working on the screenplay to the film. Mr. Peters'
Connections was staged off-Broadway in 1998, and Death of a Salesman was revived
on Broadway in 1999 to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. The play, once again, was a
large critical success, winning a Tony Award for best revival of a play.

In 2001 the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) selected Miller for the
Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government's highest honor for achievement in the
humanities. Miller's lecture was entitled "On Politics and the Art of Acting." Miller's
lecture analyzed political events (including the recent U.S. presidential election of
2000) in terms of the "arts of performance", and it drew attacks from some
conservatives such as Jay Nordlinger, who called it "a disgrace", and George Will,
who argued that Miller was not legitimately a "scholar".

On May 1, 2002, Miller was awarded Spain's Principe de Asturias Prize for Literature
as "the undisputed master of modern drama". Later that year, Ingeborg Morath died of
lymphatic cancer at the age of 78. The following year Miller won the Jerusalem Prize.

In December 2004, the 89-year-old Miller announced that he had been in love with
34-year-old minimalist painter Agnes Barley and had been living with her at his
Connecticut farm since 2002, and that they intended to marry. Within hours of her
father's death, Rebecca Miller ordered Barley to vacate the premises, having
consistently opposed the relationship. Miller's final play, Finishing the Picture,
opened at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago, in the fall of 2004, with one character said
to be based on Barley. Miller said that the work was based on the experience of
filming The Misfits. When interviewed by BBC4 for The Atheism Tapes, he stated
that he had been an atheist since his teens.

Miller died of heart failure after a battle against cancer, pneumonia and congestive
heart disease at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut. He had been in hospice care at his
sister's apartment in New York since his release from hospital the previous month. He
died on the evening of February 10, 2005 (the 56th anniversary of the Broadway
debut of Death of a Salesman), aged 89, surrounded by Barley, family and friends.


The Man Who Had All the Luck (1944) The play depicts a young man, David 
Beeves, who has a hard time dealing with his good luck, especially when he sees his 
no less deserving brother have no luck at all.  Beeves becomes a successful 
businessman, while his brother Amos loses his chance to pitch in the baseball big 
leagues and turns on the father he feels misled him in such a dream.  Thinking that at 
any moment his luck must run out and disaster will strike, Beeves begins to live his 
life in constant fear, at one point even contemplating suicide.  He expects his garage to 
fail, his son to be born dead, his mink farm to be devasted, but he is repeatedly 
rewarded with a healthy son and successful businesses, even when his fellow 
businessmen go broke.  By the close he seems to at last accept that this is in part by 
his own diligence, which allows him to finally enjoy the fruits of his work (in an 
earlier novelisation of this story Miller had Beeves commit suicide at the close, but in 
the play he just has Beeves consider the possibility, but decide against it).

All My Sons (1947) Joe Keller, is an apparently successful businessman who made his 
fortune by selling airplane parts to the army during World War Two. Not wanting to 
slow business he sent out a batch that he knew to be defective, and twenty­one pilots 
died as a result. Keller was arrested and tried, but lied, saying that the parts went out 
without his knowledge and his partner, Steve Deever, was the one who had covered it 
up. Deever is sent to jail and Keller is exonerated. One of his sons, Larry, is missing in 
action, but the mother, Kate, insists that their son is still alive, though we later learn 
that he committed suicide on learning of his father's arrest. When their other son, 
Chris, asks Larry's old girlfriend (who happens to be Deever's daughter, Ann) to 
marry him, it causes tension, which results in Keller's deceit coming out. Chris fought 
during the war and watched many of his peers die, so on discovering his father's guilt 
he totally rejects him. On discovering why Larry died, Keller finally accepts his 
responsibility for the crime and kills himself.
Death of a Salesman (1949) Death of a Salesman relates the story of Willy Loman, a 
down­on­his­luck traveling salesman. In order to cope with his failures in life, he 
retreats to the past in his mind and seems to be losing touch with reality. He tries to 
relive the good times, but keeps coming up against things that went wrong. His family 
try to help him by lying about their prospects, but when Loman loses his job, after a 
lifetime with the same company, he becomes desperate. His depression is exacerbated 
by the guilt he feels from a past infidelity which has estranged him from his older son, 
Biff. Rather than accept that his life has been a failure, and that Biff is not interested 
in big business, Loman decides to commit suicide in hopes that the insurance money 
will help Biff become successful. The play ends with his family and only friend, 
Charley, grieving by his graveside.

An Enemy of the People (1950) An adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's play of the same 
title, Miller's version remains very faithful to the original as he worked from a literal 
translation of the original Norwegian. The play depicts a respected, resort­town doctor 
who finds himself shunned by his community. Dr. Stockmann counters the town's 
decision to conceal information that would put the health of many tourists at 
considerable risk, but ensure the great revenue the tourists would bring to the area. By 
standing up to his peers, Stockmann is embracing his responsibility to others, but 
finds himself branded "an enemy of the people."

The Crucible (1953) The Crucible is an allegorical re­telling of the McCarthy era red 
scare that occurred in the United States after World War II. Based on historical 
accounts, the play is set during the 1692 Salem Witchcraft Trials when several young 
girls accuse innocent town members of witchcraft to avoid getting into trouble for 
entertaining ideas of witchery themselves. The husbands of some of the women 
involved try to convince the judges as to the girls' deceit, but find them unshakeable. 
Eventually even the most prominent members of the community find themselves 
indicted, and the tension mounts as the central protagonist, John Proctor, must confess 
an earlier adultery in order to save his own wife from being hanged based upon 
charges brought by his former lover. However, because his wife lies about the adultery 
to save his name, the judges fail to believe his charges. Proctor is given the chance to 
save his own life by confessing to witchery and naming names, but chooses to die 
rather than betray his friends and neighbors.

A Memory of Two Mondays (1955) A one­act play which glances back upon the 
Depression, Miller's A Memory of Two Mondays is based largely upon his 
experiences in an automobile parts warehouse in Brooklyn, where he worked to save 
money for college. The play takes a look at his co­workers and the various people he 
met who stumbled through life in a haze of hopelessness and despondency, and 
portrays the compassion the lead character has for others less fortunate than himself.
A View from the Bridge (1956) The local lawyer, Alfieri, tells the story of Eddie 
Carbone, a head­strong longshoreman who has helped raise his wife's niece, 
Catherine, but has developed an unwitting sexual attraction towards her. When his 
wife's two cousins enter the country illegally looking for work, the Carbones take 
them in, but when Catherine begins dating the younger of the cousins, Rodolpho, 
Eddie gets jealous. Finding his insinuations of Rodolpho's homosexuality and his 
warning to Catherine that Rodolpho is only after an American passport are ignored, in 
an act of desperation to split them up before they can marry, Eddie breaks an 
unwritten rule within his community by betraying both cousins to the Immigration 
authorities. The older brother, Marco, vows revenge, exacerbated by Eddie's refusal to 
admit his "crime." Out on bail Marco comes to Eddie, who challenges him to a fight 
to try and redeem his blackened , but when Eddie draws a knife Marco kills him with 
it. Eddie dies declaring his love for his wife, never having fully come to with his 
actions or how they led to his downfall.

The Misfits (1961) Written as a gift to his then wife Marilyn Monroe, Miller's 
screenplay relates the story of three modern day cowboys who refuse to settle down in 
a society which no longer respects the traditions and values of the past. In order to 
mask their frustration with their lives, Gay, Perce, and Guido drown themselves with 
drink, sex, and other reckless behavior. They begin to re­evaluate their lives, however, 
after a wild mustang chase. One of the cowboys meets a beautiful divorcee, Roslyn 
(played by Monroe) who teaches him to change his ways and attitudes and together, 
they take a chance on an uncertain future.

After the Fall (1964) Often viewed as highly autobiographical, this play received 
much criticism from reviewers who thought he was tarnishing the memory of 
American icon Marilyn Monroe, who had recently committed suicide. After the Fall 
examines the parallels between private and public acts of betrayal by drawing 
connections between the central character's self­assessment and the atrocities 
committed during the Holocaust. In an extended confession, Quentin relates the story 
of his life, describing what he sees as his formative relationships with women, most 
notably his mother, and his first two wives, Louise and Maggie. We also learn of his 
experiences living through the Depression, HUAC, and of his eventual acceptance of 
the possibility of future happiness with his new wife, Holga.

Incident at Vichy (1964) Written as a companion piece to After the Fall, Incident at 
Vichy illustrates the anti­Semitic ideas which fed the Holocaust. Set in Vichy France 
during the German occupation in 1942, the action focuses on a group of detainees 
representing all walks of life­from a beggar to a prince­who wait to be interrogated by 
the Nazis who are searching for Jews to send to the death camps. As the men 
anxiously wait, a number of discussions arise among the prisoners concerning their 
attitudes on the occupation, the resistance, and the anti­Semitic environment rampant 
in Europe at the time. Despite confrontations with the Nazi captors and their fear of 
what awaits them, the prisoners discover the possibility of meaning in their adversity 
through non­Jewish Prince Von Berg's gift of his own pass to freedom to the Jew, 

The Price (1968) Upon the death of their father, two brothers meet in order to go 
through their father's belongings. The two men occupy decidedly different ends of the 
spectrum­Walter is a highly successful surgeon, Victor a poorly paid policeman. Both 
resent each other for different reasons, one for his family attachments, the other for his 
financial achievements. Tempers rise until a confrontation between the brothers occurs 
and each must decide whether or not to accept or forsake his past mistakes and 
accomplishments. Witnessing their inability to understand the value of each other's 
decisions and achievements, is a wise old furniture dealer, Gregory Solomon, whose 
final response to whole sad situation is laughter.

The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972) Miller pretty much follows the 
early events of The Bible, only with a comedic twist, beginning with the creation, the 
story of Adam and Eve and their temptation, and culminating with the slaying of Able 
by his brother Cain. Miller portrays Lucifer as the voice of wisdom, with God being 
depicted as a bumbling, good­natured idiot, despite his powers. Lucifer plots to 
introduce evil to the world as he feels that evil must be present for good to have any 
real meaning. The play was turned into a musical called Up From Paradise two years 
after its Broadway production.

Fame (1978) This screenplay is based on an earlier short story written by Miller of the 
same name. A prosperous playwright has trouble coming to terms with his fame. His 
self­consciousness leads him to feel alienated from those around him, but his situation 
takes a turn for the better when he meets a female jockey who teaches him to look for 
the things that really matter in life and helps him to accept his success.

The Archbishop's Ceiling (1977)An American writer, Adrian, pays a visit to some old 
friends, Maya and Marcus, behind the Iron Curtain and gets a taste of what life is like 
under a corrupt communist government. Adrian's current girlfriend Ruth, is back in 
America, but he has a desire to see Maya once more, with whom he has had an affair 
in the past, and about whom he has been trying, unsuccessfully, to write a book. 
Marcus joins them with Irina, a decorative blonde, in tow. Though rebels in the past, it 
is unclear whether or not Maya and Marcus are now working for the government; 
however, they join Adrian in trying to help Sigmund, a writer who is still a rebel, get 
his newly completed manuscript returned after it has been confiscated by the 
Playing For Time (1980) Miller developed Playing For Time from the autobiography 
of the real Fania Fenelon. It relates Fania's experiences at Auschwitz during World 
War Two; how she survived not only as a human being, but also as a Jew. The 
notorious Dr. Mengele is the camp physician, and though not a major character in the 
play, is clearly depicted as an apparently cultured man who, nevertheless, has no 
compunction engaging in unethical medical experiments. He and other Nazi officials 
have decided they needed a prisoner orchestra and Fania, with her musical 
background, is swiftly recruited, along with young Marianne, a girl whom Fania met 
on the train which brought them to the camp. The orchestra is led by former concert 
violinist, Alma Rosè, and it is made up of both Jewish prisoners, such as Esther, 
Hèlène, Liesle, Lotte, Paulette and Etalina, and non­Jewish Poles, such as Elzvieta. 
Though most of the prisoners have been cowed into submission by the Nazi 
supervisors and chiefs, like Frau Schmidt and Mandel, we do hear about the exploits 
of one subversive, Mala, and we occasionally meet Shmuel, an electrician, who gives 
Fania advice about how to survive.

The American Clock (1980) In The American Clock Miller tells the story of America 
in the 1930s through the conflated stories of a vast array of characters. We meet 
businessmen like Jesse Livermore and William Durant who lose everything, and more 
successful entrepreneurs like Arthur A. Robertson and Theodore K. Quinn. We learn 
the plight of farmers, like Henry Taylor, young intellectuals, like Joe and Edie, and an 
assortment of people from all walks of life. At the center, Miller places the Baum 
family, who are partly autobiographical. Through the Baums he explores, even more 
deeply, the concerns and demands of such a time. The father, Moe, loses a prosperous 
business but keeps on going, even as his wife, Rose begins to fall apart under the 
strain. Their son Lee goes from childhood to adulthood as he travels through the 
nation, and finally comes to terms with the demands of living in America.

Two­Way Mirror(1982­1984)Two­Way Mirror consists of "Elegy for a Lady" and 
"Some Kind of Love Story." In "Elegy" a Man enters a boutique and discusses with 
the Proprietess what might be an appropriate gift to buy for his ailing lover. Their 
discussion forces the Man to face some home truths about his relationship and realize 
that he needs to take a greater responsibility for his life. In "Some Kind" a private 
detective, Tom O'Toole, comes to interview a possible witness in a case he is 
investigating. The witness, Angela, suffers from multiple­personality­disorder and 
appears reluctant to give him the information he needs. They maintain a connection by 
playing a cat and mouse game in which neither will tell the other everything they need 
to hear, and so their meetings may continue ad infinitum.

Danger: Memory (1987) Danger: Memory! consists of "I Can't Remember Anything" 
and "Clara." In "I Can't" Leonora pays one of her regular visits to her old friend Leo. 
The two of them discuss the state of their current lives and recall what it was like 
before Leonora's husband, Frederick, died. Unable to reconcile their own different 
outlooks on life, they quarrel and Leonora leaves. The title character from "Clara" has 
just been brutally killed and we witness Detective Lew Fine questioning Clara's father, 
Kroll, to try and find out who might have have committed the murder. This 
questionning, however, tells us far more about the father than the daughter.

The Last Yankee (1991­1993) The Last Yankee begins with the meeting of Leroy 
Hamilton, a freelance carpenter and descendent of Alexander Hamilton, and John 
Frick, a conservative businessman, in the visiting room of the state mental hospital. 
Both have wives who are currently staying in this establishment, and as they make 
small talk, we discover that this appears to be about the only thing that they have in 
common. Next we meet the wives, and discover that their mental problems are closely 
tied to their marriages. Patricia Hamilton seems well on the road to recovery as she is 
beginning to realize that she must tone down her high expectations of life, but Karen 
Frick still suffers from a crippling lack of self­esteem. As the two couples interact we 
see Patricia and Leroy reach a compromise that will allow Patricia to go home, but the 
Fricks remain unable to communicate with each other, and Karen shows little sign of 

The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991) The Ride Down Mt. Morgan purportedly takes 
place in the hospital room of a bedridden Lyman Felt who is recovering from a bad 
car accident. Lyman, we soon discover, is a bigamist, and both of his wives, Theo and 
Leah, turn up, each unaware, until now, that the other existed. Refusing to accept that 
he has done anything really wrong, Lyman tries to salvage the situation and keep both 
of his wives happy. He largely fails in this attempt as it is clearly too selfishly 
motivated, something his daughter, Bessie, tries to teach him. He ends the play alone; 
even his admiring friend Tom cannot continue to support his actions.

Broken Glass (1994) In Broken Glass Miller tells the story of Sylvia and Phillip 
Gellburg, who after years of marriage come to realize that they hardly know each 
other at all. Phillip is the only Jew working at a very traditional Wall Street bank 
where he mainly works on foreclosings. Obsessed with work, and his own desire to 
assimilate, Phillip has little time for his wife until she demands his attention by 
suddenly falling prey to a mysterious paralysis after seeing the events of Kristallnacht 
in the newspaper. Up until now Sylvia has been a quiet little housewife, but she needs 
to express her buried fears and longings. Dr. Harry Hyman is called in to help, and 
though no specialist, he decides the case is a psychiatric one, and proceeds to try and 
treat Sylvia. Hyman, however, has problems of his own, which become apparent 
during his interaction with the Gellburgs.

Mr. Peter's Connections (1998)  Mr. Harry Peter is an elderly man who comes to a 
run­down night­club run by his brother for some ambiguous reason.  There we meet 
various people from his family and past, as Peter tries to make sense of who he is and 
what he has achieved.  The play ends with a plea from his daughter for him not to die 
which seems to give him the strength to continue.

Resurrection Blues (2002)  A satiric piece in which the local dictator on a fictional 
island plans to televise the crucifixion of a local rebel whom people believe to be 
Jesus.  Even the mainland television crew become antagonistic to such brutality, and 
the play culminates in an uncertain apotheosis of the figure in question.

Finishing the Picture (2004)  A distinguished director is about to lose his picture due 
to the unstable behavior of a famously fragile movie star. She is recognized all over 
the world, loved by millions, but unable to believe in herself. The studio owners are 
threatening to pull the plug, and a temperamental acting teacher is flown in to coax 
the actress out of bed and onto the set.

The theme of the tragic hero is a continual theme in the literature of
tragedy. When Sophocles's "Oedipus the King" is compared to Arthur
Miller's "Death of a Salesman, the plots are very different, yet both use
dramatic irony to reveal the basic points of tragedy: the actions of a
tragic hero means the hero is destined to die.
The elements of a play are setting, irony, plot, characters, and theme,
which will be discussed in the essay.
Oedipus the King opens in a Greek amphitheatre depicting the front of
a Theban palace. Throughout the play, the setting remains constant.
This changes to a more fast-paced play with different settings in
different places in Death of a Salesman.

Death of a Salesman, Miller's most famous work, addresses the painful conflicts
within one family, but it also tackles larger issues regarding American national values.
The play examines the cost of blind faith in the American Dream. In this respect, it
offers a postwar American reading of personal tragedy in the tradition of Sophocles'
Oedipus Cycle. Miller charges America with selling a false myth constructed around a
capitalist materialism nurtured by the postwar economy, a materialism that obscured
the personal truth and moral vision of the original American Dream described by the
country's founders.
A half century after it was written, Death of a Salesman remains a powerful drama. Its
indictment of fundamental American values and the American Dream of material
success may seem somewhat tame in today's age of constant national and individual
self-analysis and criticism, but its challenge was quite radical for its time. After World
War II, the United States faced profound and irreconcilable domestic tensions and
contradictions. Although the war had ostensibly engendered an unprecedented sense
of American confidence, prosperity, and security, the United States became
increasingly embroiled in a tense cold war with the Soviet Union. The propagation of
myths of a peaceful, homogenous, and nauseatingly gleeful American golden age was
tempered by constant anxiety about Communism, bitter racial conflict, and largely
ignored economic and social stratification. Many Americans could not subscribe to
the degree of social conformity and the ideological and cultural orthodoxy that a
prosperous, booming, conservative suburban middle-class championed.
Uneasy with this American milieu of denial and discord, a new generation of artists
and writers influenced by existentialist philosophy and the hypocritical postwar
condition took up arms in a battle for self-realization and expression of personal

Around 2400 years ago, Aristotle wrote his famous work "Poetics ,"describing in it the qualities of a
tragedy. In this work, Aristotle offered "Oedipus the King" as a perfect example of a tragedy. Over two
millenia have passed and writers are still creating tragedies. "Death of a Salesman" is one modern
example of a tragedy. This leads to the question of how the tragedy had lasted and remained relevant
for so long. And at the same time, has it changed to adapt to the modern world' This will now be
discussed, first by offering a modern definition of a tragedy. Both "Oedipus the King" and "Death of a
Salesman" will then be described in turn, with it shown that each play meets the requirements of a
tragedy. Finally, the meaning of the similarities will be discussed, with it shown that a tragedy is
essentially a human story of the struggle to overcome one's flaws. The persistence of the tragedy
suggests that this is a common struggle of man, and one that remains persistent even after two millenia
In Poetics Aristotle offers a description of tragedy by looking at the elements present in tragedies of the
time. The elements Aristotle describes are mainly those seen in Oedipus the King,

It is this quality that makes the tragedy a learning experiencing for the audience. Now that the qualities
of a tragedy have been described, they can be applied to the two plays. Instead, this appears to be
related more to the society of the time, where stories were only considered worthy if they were about the
highest classes of society. Based on this, it can be said that the level of a person in society is not a
factor that determines whether or not they are a hero. The next play that will be considered is "Death of
a Salesman" by Arthur Miller. Instead, the plight of the highest man was told. This shows that Loman's
tragic demise is of his own doing. However, just because tragedies at the time took the extreme view,
does not mean they have to in modern times. Throughout the play, Loman is faced with many conflicts
where he has the opportunity to see the truth. This shows that Oedipus has a tragic flaw that leads to his
downfall, meaning that the play meets the second quality of a tragedy. Even in this action, he tells
himself another lie by believing that his suicide will finally allow his family to respect him, since they will
be impressed by how many admirers come to his funeral. Instead, it is the qualities of that person that
makes them a hero. This shows that "Oedipus the King" meets the first requirement of a tragedy.
Instead, it occurs as the ending that had to happen. Instead, his motivation is always his family.

An overwhelming desire for personal contentment and unprecedented reputation can
often result in a sickly twisted distortion of reality. In Sophocles' Oedipus the King, a
man well-known for his intellect and wisdom finds himself blind to the truth of h
life and his parentage. Arthur Miller's play, The Death of a Salesman, tells of a tragic
character so wrapped up in his delusional world that reality and illusion fuse causing
an internal explosion that leads to his undoing. Each play enacts the strugg
of a man attempting to come to grips with his harsh reality and leaving behind his
comfortable fantasy world. In the end, no man can escape the truth no matter how
,hard he may fight. In choosing the fragility of illusion over the stability of reality
.th characters meet their inevitable downfall
At the moment of his birth, Oedipus receives a prophecy from the Delphic Oracle
which states his destiny, "to grow up to murder his father and marry his mother
(Sophocles 22)." Shocked and dismayed by this horrific prophecy, his parents King
Laius and
een Jocasta of Thebes try to elude this inevitable curse by turning the infant over to a
loyal servant, a Theban shepherd, to take Oedipus to "a woody dell of Cithaeron" to
be killed (63). After riveting his ankles together and leaving him to die of the
lements, the old shepherd has a change of heart and hands the child over to a traveling
shepherd from Corinth to take back to the childless King Polybus and Queen Merope
to raise as their own son. For the next twenty years, Laius and Jocasta rule in The
s believing their son to be "done away with (69)." Unfortunately, Hera sends a
drought associated with a sphinx to bedevil Thebes. A desperate Laius travels back to
the Delphic Oracle for a reading while, in Corinth, Oedipus grows to manhood
believing P
ybus and Merope, the King and Queen of Corinth, to be his real parents. Soon, he too
.learns of his dreadful fate