Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

Portrayal of Protagonists by Arthur Miller

Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

Portrayal of Protagonists by Arthur Miller

Article excerpt

Arthur Miller's Life and Age

Arthur Asher Miller, the son of a women's clothing company owner, was born in 1915 in New York city. At around the age of 14, his father's business collapsed with the Stock Market crash at the beginning of the 1930s Depression and the family was forced to move to a smaller home in Brooklyn. His father 's business was devastated by the Depression, sowing the seeds of his son's disillusionment with the American Dream and those blue sky-seeking Americans who pursued it with both eyes focused on the Grail of Materialism. After graduating from high school, Miller worked at jobs ranging from radio singer to truck driver to clerk in an automobile-parts warehouse. Due to his father's strained financial circumstances, Miller had to work for tuition money to attend the University of Michigan at Ann Arbour in 1934 at the age of 19, where he majored in English and journalism. It was here that he was slowly introduced to playwrights such as Ibsen and August Strindberg.

After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1938, Miller began writing in earnest. His first Broadway play, The Man Who Had All The Luck (1944), about an incredibly successful man who is unhappy with that success, opened to horrible reviews. Its unfavorable reception disheartened Miller, and he decided to write one more play. If that were not successful, he would give up playwriting.

Fortunately, All My Sons was a huge broadway hit. Concerned with issues of morality, this play appealed to audiences who had just suffered through war and Depression. As Welland says, growing up in the Depression has also affected Miller in many ways more complex than one would infer from the nostalgia of his autobiographical essay, "A Boy Grew in Brooklyn." "It was a good time to be growing up", he has said, "because nobody else knew anything either," but he also comments, "nobody could escape that disaster". And it is this image of Depression that predominates in his later plays. The Depression taught many things, such as a man trapped in a whirlpool of commercialism. Stark economic reality can devastate the world of man. Common Americans, including Miller, were compelled to do all kinds of petty and clumsy jobs in order to satisfy their hunger. So this helplessness of the man in the merciless world created by capitalism stirs Miller 's conscience to write such plays.

Much before the publication of his other significant plays, Miller had come to be launched into the realm of greatest living American playwrights with the publication of his masterpiece Death of a Salesman (1949), which presents the tragic Willy Loman, a failed businessman attempting to reconstruct his life. This play is vastly based on the socioeconomic conditions that emerged in the aftermath of the Great Depression of the 1930s. As Cold War Paranoia pervaded the country, Miller penned his third major play, The Crucible (1953), as a response to 1950s McCarthyism. After the Fall, a highly inventive work about a lawyer named Quentin coming to grips with his turbulent past and self-perceived moral inadequacy, was influenced by Miller's tumultuous five-year marriage (1956-1961) to pop-icon Marilyn Monroe.

Among Miller 's other plays are A View from the Bridge (1956), Incident at Vichy (1964), The Price (1968), The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991), Broken Glass (1994), and Resurrection Blues (2002). His autobiography, Timebends: A Life, was published in 1987, and his most recent play, Finishing the Picture-based on the making of the 1961 film The Misfits , which Miller wrote for Marilyn Monroe- premiered in October 2004.

Alley's long series of productions of Miller's plays began 50 years ago, when founding Artistic Director, Nina Vance, directed his Death of a Salesman in February 1954. Miller was also the recipient of the 1984 Alley Award, which is an honor for his distinguished body of work. Miller married thrice. In 1940, he married his college sweetheart Mary Slattery, by whom he had a daughter and a son. …

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