All My Sons Greek Analysis Essay

All My Sons Greek Analysis Essay

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Arthur Miller—the author of All my Sons, The Crucible, and Death of a Salesman—was born in 1915 in New York City. He lived through the Great Depression and both World Wars. A self-proclaimed modern tragedian, Miller says he looks to the Greeks for inspiration, especially Sophocles (the author of Oedipus the King). Miller elevates “the common man’s failures, his anguish, and his family relationships” to the magnitude of a tragic hero (Galvin). All my Sons is a great example of how Miller uses the six elements described by Aristotle to create modern American tragedies that reflect ancient Greek tragedies like Oedipus the King and Antigone.
Plot: Miller chooses to start the plot late into the actual story. Like in Aristolian or climatic drama, many actions have already taken place. The “disappearance” of Larry, the trial of Joe Keller, the incarceration of Herbert Deever, and the courting between Chris and Ann have already taken place. The plot takes place in one locale: the backyard and porch of the Keller residence. The unity of action has events revealed in chronological order and misses very little action between acts. The past is only referenced to and no flashbacks disrupt the flow of the drama. Miller uses these three unities that are prevalent in Greek drama to help to clearly reveal the actions of the play in a distinct time and place. Miller perhaps chooses to start the play later into the story to mirror ancient Greek drama. This lets the audience be ignorant of past events and as the details are revealed, they build tension and mystery that enthralls the audience. The message of the show (and the moment of Catharsis) would be ruined if the audience already knew that Keller was responsible for much suffering.

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... return the neighborhood to a new stasis. Oedipus blinds himself, Creon exiles himself, and Keller kills himself. People are too impulsive to get their own needs met (Oikos) rather than the needs of the community (Polis). “In my day when you had sons it was an honor. Today a doctor could make a million dollars if he could figure out a way to bring a boy into the world without a trigger finger” (Miller 10). That impulsiveness to just have survival needs met overshadow the need to think clearly and consider the consequences to the entire community.

Works cited
Galvin, Rachel. "Arthur Miller--Biography." The National Endowment for the
Humanities. National Endowment for the Humanities. Web. 02 Oct. 2011.

Miller, Arthur. All My Sons ; A Drama in Three Acts. New York: Dramatist Play Service,
1974. Print.

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