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Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller Arthur Miller[1†]

Arthur Asher Miller (1915-2005) was a prominent American playwright, born in NYC. Renowned for iconic works like "Death of a Salesman" and "The Crucible", he depicted societal issues intertwined with characters' inner struggles. Miller championed portraying the common man's tragedies. His life was marked by public visibility, including a Pulitzer Prize, marriage to Marilyn Monroe, and activism during the Red Scare era. Honored with prestigious awards like the Praemium Imperiale and the Prince of Asturias Award, Miller left an enduring legacy in 20th-century American theater[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Arthur Miller was born on October 17, 1915, in New York City, the second of Isidore and Augusta Barnett Miller’s three children[3†]. His father had come to the United States from Austria-Hungary and ran a small coat-manufacturing business[3†]. His mother, a native of New York, had been a public school teacher[3†].

Miller was only an average student. He was much more fond of playing sports than doing his schoolwork[3†]. Only after graduating from high school in 1932 did Miller think about becoming a writer, when he read Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s (1821–1881) The Brothers Karamazov[3†].

Miller attended City College in New York for two weeks, then worked briefly with his father and in an auto parts warehouse to earn money to attend the University of Michigan[3†]. He enrolled there two years later, continuing to work as a dishwasher and as a night editor at a newspaper to help pay his expenses while he studied drama[3†][4†]. He graduated in 1938, having won several awards for playwriting[3†].

Miller returned to New York City to a variety of jobs, including writing for the Federal Theater Project, a government-sponsored program that ended before any of his work could be produced[3†]. Because of an old football injury, he was rejected for military service, but he was hired to tour army camps to collect material for a movie, The Story of G. I. Joe[3†]. His notes from these tours were published as Situation Normal (1944)[3†].

Career Development and Achievements

Arthur Miller’s prolific writing career spans a period of over sixty years[5†]. During this time, Miller wrote twenty-six plays, a novel entitled “Focus” (1945), several travel journals, a collection of short stories entitled “I Don’t Need You Anymore” (1967), and an autobiography entitled “Timebends: A Life” (1987)[5†].

Miller’s first public success was with “Focus” (1945; film 1962 made-for-television[[?]]), a novel about anti-Semitism[5†][2†]. His first important play was “All My Sons” (1947; film 1948), a drama about a manufacturer of faulty war materials that strongly reflects the influence of Henrik Ibsen[5†][2†]. It won Miller a Tony Award, and it was his first major collaboration with the director Elia Kazan, who also won a Tony[5†][2†].

Miller’s next play, “Death of a Salesman” (1949), became one of the most famous American plays of its period[5†][2†][1†]. It is the tragedy of Willy Loman, a man destroyed by false values that are in large part the values of his society[5†][2†]. For Miller, it was important to place “the common man” at the center of a tragedy[5†][2†].

Among his most popular plays are “All My Sons” (1947), “Death of a Salesman” (1949), “The Crucible” (1953), and “A View from the Bridge” (1955)[5†][1†]. He wrote several screenplays, including “The Misfits” (1961)[5†][1†].

Miller’s writing has earned him a lifetime of honors, including the Pulitzer Prize, seven Tony Awards, two Drama Critics Circle Awards, an Obie, an Olivier, the John F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish prize[5†][4†]. He holds honorary doctorate degrees from Oxford University and Harvard University[5†][4†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Arthur Miller was a prolific writer whose works spanned various formats, including plays, screenplays, and essays. Here are some of his main works, along with information about their first publication[6†][2†]:

Miller’s works were not only popular but also critically acclaimed. His plays often combined social awareness with a searching concern for his characters’ inner lives[6†][2†]. His ability to portray the struggles of the common man in a changing society made his works resonate with a wide audience[6†][2†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Arthur Miller’s work has been widely analyzed and evaluated by critics and scholars. His plays are known for their exploration of the American experience, often focusing on the ethical compromises made by his characters and the societal pressures they face[8†].

Miller’s plays often explore the interplay between reality and fantasy, with his characters frequently grappling with their own actions and the consequences of those actions[8†]. His works also reflect specific elements of historical events, adding a layer of realism and relevance to his narratives[8†].

In addition to his plays, Miller also demonstrated an impressive command of the short-story form and proved himself remarkably adept at blending reportage, autobiography, and dramatic reflection in his later essay-length books[8†]. His non-dramatic work explores the same themes as his plays and provides additional insight into his views on drama and society[8†].

Miller’s work has had a significant impact on American drama. He is often compared to Eugene O’Neill, the father of modern American drama, and his plays continue to be performed and adapted worldwide[8†]. His ability to balance the individual and societal elements of life in his plays has contributed to his enduring reputation[8†].

In “The Crucible,” for example, Miller balances the social tragedy of the Salem community against the personal tragedy of John Proctor, whose triumph over self restores a sense of moral order in the community[8†][9†]. This play, like many of Miller’s works, explores the tension between personal responsibility and societal expectations[8†][9†].

Overall, Arthur Miller’s work offers a critical examination of American society, exploring the struggles of the individual against societal pressures and expectations. His plays and other writings continue to resonate with audiences, offering a timeless exploration of the human condition[8†].

Personal Life

Arthur Miller was married three times. His first marriage was to Mary Slattery in 1940, with whom he had two children[1†]. However, this marriage ended in divorce in 1956[1†][10†].

In the same year, Miller married the iconic actress Marilyn Monroe[1†]. The couple initially met in 1951 and had a brief affair before Miller left his first wife[1†][11†]. During their marriage, Miller wrote the screenplay for “The Misfits”, which was Monroe’s last film[1†][11†]. Their marriage was turbulent and ended in divorce after five years[1†][12†].

Following his divorce from Monroe, Miller married Inge Morath in 1962[1†]. Morath was a renowned photographer, and their marriage lasted until her death in 2002[1†]. They had two children, one of whom is the accomplished writer and director Rebecca Miller[1†].

Miller also had a relationship with Agnes Barley, which began in 2002[1†]. He was known to be an atheist[1†][10†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Arthur Miller’s legacy is vast and enduring. His work is performed somewhere in the world on any given day[13†]. Beyond the Pulitzer Prize he won for “Death of a Salesman”, Miller sought to provoke his audience into questioning society and authority[13†]. His plays, particularly “Death of a Salesman” and “All My Sons”, showed how capitalism, a system ostensibly designed to promote the individual, could crush those it promised to empower[13†][14†].

Miller’s tragedies became American classics, just as relevant today in revivals as they were when they first hit the Broadway stage[13†][15†]. His plays reflected the American experience, exploring topics that resonated with his mid-20th-century audiences[13†][15†]. So critically acclaimed and widely popular were his plays and movies that he’s one of the few American playwrights to become a household name[13†][15†].

Miller’s experiences with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in the early 1950s also affected his writing[13†][15†]. Dismayed by his friend, director Elia Kazan’s, willingness to “name names” – turning in fellow artists with ties to the Communist Party – Miller wrote “The Crucible”, a dramatization of the Salem Witch Trials that shone a light on the modern-day witch hunt being conducted by HUAC[13†][15†].

In conclusion, Arthur Miller’s work continues to resonate, and his legacy lives on[13†][16†]. His plays have redefined the parameters of the American stage, and his unrivaled contribution to world theatre ensures that his influence will be felt for generations to come[13†][16†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Arthur Miller [website] - link
  2. Britannica - Arthur Miller: American playwright [website] - link
  3. Encyclopedia of World Biography - Arthur Miller Biography [website] - link
  4. The National Endowment for the Humanities - Arthur Miller [website] - link
  5. CliffsNotes - The Crucible - Arthur Miller Biography [website] - link
  6. Arthur Miller - Works [website] - link
  7. LiteratureApp - Arthur Miller [website] - link
  8. eNotes - Arthur Miller Analysis [website] - link
  9. eNotes - The Crucible Critical Evaluation [website] - link
  10. Simple Wikipedia (English) - Arthur Miller [website] - link
  11. Interesting Literature - Five Fascinating Facts about Arthur Miller [website] - link
  12. PBS - American Masters - Arthur Miller Biography - American Masters [website] - link
  13. BBC News - BBC NEWS [website] - link
  14. USA TODAY - Remembering Arthur Miller's legacy at 100 [website] - link
  15. Legacy.com - Century Spotlight: Arthur Miller [website] - link
  16. BBC News - BBC NEWS [website] - link
  17. Book Analysis - 9 Incredible Facts about Arthur Miller [website] - link
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