In 1938, the onset of violent anti-Semitic riots in Germany created one of the most horrific struggles of our time. Not only did this outrageous holocaust bring sadness and death to the Jews in Germany but also to the ones living here in America. In, The Broken Glass, by Arthur Miller, we see the lives of three completely different characters portrayed. First, we see Sylvia Gullberg, who has been a housewife ever since her husband Philip made her quit. She is the first one to be affected by the news in Germany. Her husband, Phillip, has been hiding from his race ever since he was a teen, and because of this ruins his marriage and ultimately his life. Lastly, Dr. Harry Hyman, who views everything with his eyes wide open, is the only possible hope of bringing the two back together. I will show how each character reacts to the identity of their blood, and deals with issues such as ethnicity, class, and gender.
Philip Gullberg is the main problem throughout this whole movie. He seems to always be burning the flame of his wife’s fear and of his own which ultimately puts him to rest. Ironically, as his wife sat paralyzed in the house, he burns the newspaper that put her in shock, to keep her warm. He is a Jewish American who has been trying to hide his ethnicity ever since he was young. He even makes it a point to pronounce his last name Gullberg instead of Goldberg, which would obviously sound too Jewish. He works at a WASP bank and is in fact the only existing Jewish employee. Philip has spent most of his life in denial, and it is apparent he is always on the defense about being Jewish. For example, he thinks Mr. Case is after him just because he is Jewish. He is also afraid of his class ...
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...e table, and play the best cards possible.” Harry, even in the end gets Philip to change his mind by saying, “We are all born afraid, and how we deal with fear is what counts.” Unfortunately, these words come too late.
As both Philip and Sylvia lay in separate beds, in separate rooms, both are ready to free themselves from all prior fears and denials. Philip’s last moments in his life are his best. He gains a sense of humor as he laughs about Chinese Jews and Jews in love with horses. Harry’s wife says, “We finally found a sense of humor in you,” as Philip answers, “I finally figured out the joke.” Philip was truly ready to look himself in the mirror and love his face. Tragically, Sylvia’s standing up symbolizes the start of her new life, while Philip’s change of heart is already too late. Ironically, this time, Phillip is the one asking for forgiveness.
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