Arthur Miller | The National Endowment for the Humanities
“The American Dream is the largely ignored screen in front of which all American writing takes place,” said Arthur Miller. “Whoever is writing in the United States is using the American Dream as an ironic pole of their story. People in other places tend to accept, to a much greater degree anyway, that living conditions are hostile to man’s claims. In Miller’s more than thirty works, which have earned him a Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony Awards, he questions “death, betrayal and injustice and how we should account for this little life of ours”
For nearly six decades, Miller has been creating characters who wrestle with conflicts of power, personal and social responsibility, the repercussions of past actions, and the twin poles of guilt and hope. In his writing and in his role in public life, Miller articulates his deep political and moral convictions. he once said that he thought theater could “change the world”. The Crucible, which premiered in 1953, is fictionalized from the Salem witch-hunt of 1692, but also deals allegorically with the anti-American activities of the house. committee. In a note to the work, Miller writes: “A policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it, with diabolical malevolence.” -on the shoulders of many colleagues. When the political situation changed, Death of a Salesman became Miller’s most celebrated and most produced play, which he directed at the Beijing People’s Art Theater in 1983.
Miller, a modern tragedian, says he looks to the Greeks for inspiration, particularly Sophocles. “I think the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is willing to give his life, if necessary, to ensure one thing: his sense of personal dignity,” writes Miller. “From Orestes to Hamlet, from Medea to Macbeth, the underlying struggle is that of the individual trying to win his ‘rightful’ position in his society”. Miller considers the common man “as a fit subject for tragedy in its highest sense as were kings.” Death of a Salesman, which opened in 1949, tells the story of Willy Loman, an elderly salesman who makes his way “with a smile and a shoe shine”. Miller raises Willy’s hopes and failures, his heartbreaks and his family relationships, to the scale of a tragic hero. Miller believes that the fear of being displaced or having our image of who and what we are destroyed is best known to the common man. “It is time for us who have no kings to pick up this brilliant thread of our history and follow it to the only place it can possibly lead us in our time: the heart and spirit of the average man.”
Arthur Asher Miller, the son of a women’s clothing company owner, was born in 1915 in New York City. His father lost his business in the depression and the family was forced to move to a smaller house in Brooklyn. After graduating from high school, Miller worked jobs ranging from radio singer to truck driver to clerk at an auto parts warehouse. Miller began writing plays when he was a student at the University of Michigan and joined the Federal Theater Project in New York City after receiving his degree. His first Broadway play, The Man Who Had All the Luck, opened in 1944 and his next play, All My Children, received the Theater Critics Circle Award. his 1949 death of a salesman won the pulitzer prize. In 1956 and 1957, Miller was cited by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and found guilty of contempt of congress for his refusal to identify writers believed to have communist sympathies. The following year, the United States Court of Appeals overturned the conviction. In 1959 the National Institute of Arts and Letters awarded him the gold medal in theater. Miller has been married three times: Mary Grace Slattery in 1940, Marilyn Monroe in 1956, and photographer Inge Morath in 1962, with whom he lives in Connecticut. he and inge have a daughter, rebecca. His works include A View from the Bridge, The Misfits, After the Fall, The Vichy Incident, The Price, The American Clock, Broken Glass, Mr. peters’ connections, and timebends, his autobiography. Miller’s writing has earned him a lifetime of honors, including the Pulitzer Prize, seven Tony Awards, two Theater Critics Circle Awards, an Obie, an Olivier, the John F. the kennedy lifetime achievement award and the dorothy and lillian gish award. He has honorary doctorates from Oxford University and Harvard University.
Throughout his life and work, Miller has remained socially engaged and has written with awareness, clarity, and compassion. As Chris Keller tells his mother in All My Children, “Know once and for all that there’s a universe of people out there, and you’re responsible for it.” Miller’s work is infused with his sense of responsibility to humanity and his audience. “the playwright is nothing without his public “, he writes. “he’s one of the audience who knows how to talk.”