Arthur Miller

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Arthur Miller was once asked why the themes of so many of his plays relate to the political situations in the 1950’s.  Miller’s response was that the most influential intellectual time span in an individual’s life is that time when the person is idealistic and passionate about developing a belief system and, at the same time, learning how the world works.  For most it is the early twenties.

Miller’s play, The Crucible, is set in Puritan New England, but his message was for the national fear built upon McCarthyism and the Cold War.  All My Sons has, as its target, the corporate mindset that preaches profit at any moral price.  And Miller’s masterpiece, in my opinion, Death of a Salesman, debunks the myth of the self-made man and its concomitant current of anti-intellectualism.  All these are themes are as relevant to explore today as they were in Miller’s day.

Salem’s search for witches is no different from McCarthy’s hunt for communists, the conservative blame on welfare people for economic woes, Susan Smith’s choice of witch for her person crimes, Saddam Hussein as the repository for our geopolitical difficulties, the political debate on the threat of illegal immigrants, etc.

The self-made man myth that Miller so deftly explodes in Death of a Salesman, is an excellent topic for high school students to consider.  What value does formal education have in modern society?  How has the self-made, rags to riches prototype affected American modern culture?

Crucible Project

Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 November 2010 20:32



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