Arthur Miller Essays

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Miller John Proctor as Arthur Essay

Words: 992 Length: 3 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 12247289

It becomes his way of escaping reality. The boundaries between the past and the present are withdrawn in his fantasies, where his illusions become real. But the truth is that the family is in severe financial condition and, in the end, Willy decides to commit suicide by driving and crashing himself to death so that his insurance money could be used to establish a business for his eldest son, Biff. He also intends to prove to Biff during his funeral that he is popular among people. Willy, in comparison to John Proctor in Miller's previous fiction, does not attain the status of a tragic hero because he does not come to full self-realization as does John Proctor. The play does not become a pure tragedy and Willy is viewed as an anti-hero, instead in that he fails to develop the nobility and magnanimity in traditional and tragic heroes. He falls short of the self-realization or self-knowledge of the typical tragic hero. His decision to commit suicide represents only a partial discovery of the truth. He fails to realize and confront his personal failure and to grasp a true, personal understanding of himself as an every man. Instead, he gives in to the force of a desperate mind and a distorted vision of a materialistic future for his family, especially Biff by killing himself (Miller, Wikipedia).

In contrast with Willy, his son Bliff seeks the truth about himself and acknowledges his failure rather than denies it (Miller 1949, Wikipedia 2006). His father and brother Happy are of a kind in refusing to accept the miseries of their respective lives and deceive themselves. Biff also loses respect for his father when he discovers his unfaithfulness. Willy covers up for these by regarding Biff as an under-achiever. Biff is determined to break the stream of lies surrounding and afflicting their family to come to terms with his own life. He endeavors to confront his father's fantasy and release himself from it and into freedom. His father's blind obsession over his materialistic interpretation…… [Read More]

1. Miller, Arthur. The Crucible (1053). Paperback. Penguin Classics, 2003

2. -. Death of a Salesman (1949). Paperback. Barnes and Noble, Jan 1998
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Miller and Eliot on Beauty Comparing and Essay

Words: 3310 Length: 10 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 73887617

Miller and Eliot on Beauty

Comparing and Contrasting "Beauty" in Miller and Eliot

Arthur Miller and T.S. Eliot are two 20th century American playwrights. While the latter is more commonly noted for expatriating to Britain and writing some of the most memorable poetry of the early 20th century, the former is noted for his famous depiction of the common man's struggle to find meaning and fulfillment in Death of a Salesman. As distinct as the two writers may seem, they both conceive of and treat the theme of beauty -- Miller analyzing its absence in Salesman, and Eliot analyzing its abandonment in several poems like "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "The Wasteland." This paper will compare and contrast both writers and show how they deal with the theme of beauty in their works.

The Absence of Beauty in Salesman and "Prufrock"

Beauty is missing from Willy Loman's life in Death of a Salesman, and Miller represents this fact by contrasting Willy to his surroundings through various motifs. Motif is a literary device constantly used throughout Salesman to bring to light certain points (ideas such as peace, happiness, success, defeat, and awe). Miller, however, does more than merely employ motif to stimulate drama: he creates a character that is utterly unable to measure up to the kind of heroism and beauty as defined by men like Aristotle. Miller's Loman ("low man") may be the measure of inadequacy in the modern world. What is missing from Loman's life, it may be said, is the appreciation of Beauty -- or Truth, as Keats called it.

This absence of Beauty is observed in the cessation of flute music in the play's very beginning. The flute motif begins the drama, setting off Act One with a melody that is meant to evoke Beauty -- images of "grass and trees on the horizon" -- encouraging the audience to imagine pastures that appear, perhaps, greener on the other side. This motif is ironically juxtaposed, however, with the setting of the Act, which is the Salesman's house, outlined against a world of hard, towering high rises. As Willy Loman enters the scene and begins to speak with his wife, the flute dies out and the cessation of this motif tells us much about Willy's present situation, adding a kind of pathos…… [Read More]

Works Cited:
Aristotle. "Poetics." Internet Classics Archive. Web. 12 Oct 2011.

Barstow, Marjorie. "Oedipus Rex as the Ideal Tragic Hero of Aristotle." The Classical
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Miller's Death of a Salesman Essay

Words: 817 Length: 2 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 77573295

Biff deliberately gives up all chances of graduating from high school, and leaves his college dreams behind.

For a long time, Biff feels some anxiety about his chosen lifestyle out West. He enjoys the freedom of his rootless life, but feels somewhat guilty that he has given up so much, after so much was expected of the early promise he showed. His cousin Bernard, less athletic but more studious, has distinguished himself as a lawyer. His Uncle Ben, Willy's idol, found diamonds while wandering in the wilderness, while Biff has only, in his view, wasted his time doing very little, and making very little money.

When he comes back to see his parents, Biff contemplates going into business with his unethical brother Happy, who is very much like a younger version of Willy. But after a certain point, Biff realizes that this would simply be, in his words, "trying to become what I don't want to be." (Miller, p.125) Unlike Willy, forever trying to please others and make a show of his status, Biff refuses to lie. "Pop," he says to his father, who has falsely indulged him, idolized him, and despised him all of his life, "I'm nothing. I'm nothing, Pop. Can't you understand that? There's no spite in it any more I'm just what I am that's all." (Miller, p.125) Biff sees that, although he originally took to the open road to spite his adulterous father, he is not wasting his life -- rather he has found himself. He is not an academic type of person, striving to please the world like Bernard, nor does he care if he is rich or well liked. Biff simply wishes to be himself.

Willy cannot understand this. "Biff -- He likes me!" says Willy, making sense of Biff's profound revelation about being true to one's self at all costs, no matter what society might say, in the only way Willy knows how. The repetition of this favorite phrase shows how little Willy has changed over the course of the play that bears his name, and why Biff is the true hero of the play. Biff makes a choice of how to live his life, while Willy merely reiterates his old ideas, however false, and passively makes his exit from existence, towards the end of Miller's drama.

Works… [Read More]

Miller, Arthur. "Death of a Salesman." The Portable Arthur Miller. New York, Penguin, 1995.
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Arhtur Miller S The Crucible Essay

Words: 1664 Length: 8 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 31934885

Arthur Miller, notable playwright, wrote the 1953 play, The Crucible that focused on the partially fictionalized and dramatized story of the Salem witch trials that occurred between 1692 and 1693 in the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The play was written as an allegory of McCarthyism due to the American government blacklisting of accused communists. Even Miller was questioned by the House of Representatives' Committee on what can be labeled as "Un-American Activities" during the late 1950's and was convicted in 1956 of contempt of Congress for the refusal of identification of others that were present during the meetings Miller had attended. Miller's drama was then translated into his play through themes of intolerance, hysteria, and reputation.

The first theme that The Crucible describes in the beginning of the play is intolerance. With the play's setting in a theocratic society, where the church and state serve as one, the government uses religion as a means of control through an austere, strict form of Protestantism, Puritanism. States laws and moral laws are treated as the same and a person's status and sin become matters of public concern. Practice of witchcraft in such a society will instantly place the practitioner into a position of evil doer in the eyes of the public. As is the case with Abigail who gets involved in a supposed witchcraft accusation after Betty falls ill, when someone is accused of witchcraft or suspected of such, they may do anything in order to evade accusations. "I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Proctor with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!" (Miller 47) Towards the end of Act I Abigail starts admitting to seeing Satan after the confession of Tituba to witchcraft. After Abigail comes to the realization that blame will fall on Tituba, she confesses readily to dancing with…… [Read More]

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The Use of Fear Tactics in Miller Crucible Essay

Words: 1715 Length: 5 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 99094203

Arthur Miller penned the play The Crucible in the context of McCarthy-era rhetoric and anti-communist propaganda in the United States. Although it has a literal and direct historical reference and application to the Salem witch trials, the play serves as an overarching metaphor for public persecution and the dangers a police state poses to the general public. Through The Crucible, Miller critiques American society and indirectly accuses patriarchy of dismantling some of the core norms and values upon which the nation was built. Moreover, Miller deftly draws analogies between Salem's persecution of women during the witch-hunts and Washington's persecution of all Americans during the Cold War. Whereas women were the only real targets during the witch trials of the late 17th century, all Americans had fallen under the indiscriminate policies of political discrimination. Miller therefore presents patriarchy within a Marxist as well as a postmodernist framework. As a Marxist, Miller draws attention to the owners of the means of production of power. As a postmodernist, Miller shows how institutional coercion and conformity to social norms create an entanglement of ideals and a conflagration of the ethos upon which nations are founded. Fear tactics become one of the core means by which the owners of the means of production of power maintain their power. Use of force -- psychological, social, and physical -- is integral to the patriarchal model. Integral to the postmodernist model is the panoptical power of surveillance and mind control. Through it all, fear tactics provide the central means by which individuals are coerced to conform to a dominant ideology.

One of the fear tactics employed by Miller in The Crucible is directed at female power and female sexuality in particular. The central motif of the play is that of women dancing naked in the woods, which instigates a moral wrath among the self-described and self-righteous Christian community. Not only is the community…… [Read More]

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Death of a Dream Arthur Essay

Words: 1256 Length: 4 Pages Document Type: Essay Paper #: 28429052

Throughout the play, Willy longs for the wealth, privilege, and equality the America was alleged to have been built upon until he can no longer deny that the promises of the American dream are just an illusion. While this is without a doubt a scathing critique of capitalism, at the same time, the play seems to be trying to show that nothing is truly real and once you remove all of the 'bells and whistles.' In other words, 'real' people, just like the American dream, are a myth. No one is immune to putting on a 'front' for other people, but when the opinions of others dictate your life and your decisions, this is when the human soul begins to deteriorate. Willy Loman is the characterization of this corrosion.

The death of the American Dream portrayed in the play, as well as the constant comparisons between the rich and the poor are evident. The reason for this strong focus on consumption of only the best and the finest appears to be that those who do not have the best clothes or the shiniest cars are considered to be less valuable or less worthy of respect than the "leisure class" who places such high values on these things. Ultimately, it is not just about 'looking good' - it is just as critically about not 'looking bad'. The irony of this perception rests in the notion that the more characters such as Willy strove to look good on the outside, the more they began to lose their true identity; of who they truly were on the inside.

According to Bloom, (1991) "Miller indicts the commercial ethos of success for its lack of any nourishing values, but the only solution he offers his characters is escape -- death for Willy, and back to the land for Biff, back to an agrarian, productive life (p. 26)." The fact that Miller offers no other solution but escape seems to indicate that his intention is to illustrate the tight grip the propaganda of the American dream had on people who were too enrapt in it to…… [Read More]

Bloom, H. (1991) Willy Loman. New York: Chelsea House

Miller, a. (1998), Death of a salesman, New York: Penguin Books