Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Arthur Miller biography Essay

Arthur Miller was born on 17 October 1915, in New York City. He lived in Harlem until he was fourteen. His Dad was a clothes manufacturer but lost all his money in 1929 when the stock market crashed. Due to the economic depression, which followed, when Miller graduated from high school in 1932 there was no money to send him to university. He worked for two years as shipping clerk, earning money to get him to college. He applied to the University of Michigan in 1934 and graduated from there in 1938. He worked in a Navy Yard while writing for the radio. His first successful stage play was All My Sons which opened in 1947 and later a film was made of it. Following this was the even more successful Death of a Salesman, which opened in 1949. These plays were seen as an attack on capitalism and during the McCarthy era of the 1940’s and 1950’s there was a lot of hysteria surrounding the spread of communism. Senator Joe McCarthy was very anti-communist and was adamant that any communist activities in America should be stomped out and the perpetrators jailed. Although this seemed a good idea to some, McCarthy’s policy was you either confess to be a communist, or give names of communists, or you would go to jail. Due to All My Sons and Death of a Salesman being seen as an attack on capitalism, Miller was summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committee that had been in operation since 1938. He was told to confess to signing his name on various petitions that the court had received or he would be jailed. Arthur Miller linked the activities of the Committee to the Salem witchcraft trials in which a few adolescent girls accused people of Salem of witchcraft. If these people did not confess to witchcraft then they would be hanged. From this he was able to write the play, The Crucible. The Crucible is about a young girl named Abigail who is in love with a married man named John Proctor. Abby and some other girls confess to compacting with the devil and are seen as saints as they start naming people who they claim to be witches. Proctor is determined to stop them and he with some others try to oppose authority to uncover the truth. Miller has used John Proctor as metaphor for himself.

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