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Unformatted text preview: Miller,​ ​Arthur​ ​1915Robert​ ​Hogan Born:​ ​ ​October​ ​17,​ ​1915​ ​in​ ​New​ ​York,​ ​New​ ​York,​ ​United​ ​States Died:​ ​ ​February​ ​10,​ ​2005​ ​in​ ​Roxbury,​ ​Connecticut,​ ​United​ ​States Other​ ​Names:​ ​ ​Miller,​ ​Arthur​ ​Asher Nationality:​ ​American Occupation:​ ​Playwright American​ ​Writers:​ ​A​ ​Collection​ ​of​ ​Literary​ ​Biographies.​ ​Ed.​ ​Leonard​ ​Unger.​ ​Vol.​ ​3: Archibald​ ​MacLeish​ ​to​ ​George​ ​Santayana​.​ ​New​ ​York:​ ​Charles​ ​Scribner's​ ​Sons,​ ​1974. p145-169.​ ​ ​From​ ​Scribner​ ​Writer​ ​Series​. Full​ ​Text:​ ​COPYRIGHT​ ​1974​ ​University​ ​of​ ​Minnesota,​ ​COPYRIGHT​ ​2007​ ​Gale Full​ ​Text: Page​ ​145 Arthur​ ​Miller​ ​1915Introduction SOME​ ​playwrights​ ​have​ ​complained​ ​that​ ​the​ ​drama​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​more​ ​naïve​ ​forms​ ​of art,​ ​and​ ​many,​ ​many​ ​playwrights​ ​have​ ​complained​ ​that​ ​dramatic​ ​criticism​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the most​ ​naïve​ ​forms​ ​of​ ​criticism.​ ​Probably​ ​a​ ​prime​ ​example​ ​of​ ​that​ ​critical​ ​naïveté​ ​is​ ​the centuriesold​ ​and​ ​apparently​ ​fruitless​ ​battle​ ​about​ ​the​ ​nature​ ​of​ ​tragedy.​ ​In​ ​our​ ​time​ ​that battle​ ​has​ ​hovered​ ​around​ ​the​ ​cliché​ ​that​ ​tragedy​ ​cannot​ ​be​ ​written​ ​in​ ​the​ ​modern​ ​world. Modern​ ​man,​ ​so​ ​the​ ​argument​ ​goes,​ ​has​ ​shrieveled​ ​in​ ​stature;​ ​his​ ​society​ ​has​ ​somehow lessened​ ​the​ ​significance​ ​of​ ​his​ ​soul​ ​in​ ​contrast​ ​to​ ​Athenian​ ​or​ ​Elizabethan​ ​society, which​ ​apparently​ ​did​ ​not​ ​make​ ​moral​ ​dwarfs​ ​of​ ​Athenians​ ​or​ ​Elizabethans.​ ​In​ ​this​ ​view, modern​ ​man​ ​is​ ​equated​ ​with​ ​Elmer​ ​Rice’s​ ​Mr.​ ​Zero​ ​or​ ​one​ ​of​ ​Rossum’s​ ​Universal Robots.​ ​Naturally,​ ​the​ ​events​ ​which​ ​happen​ ​to​ ​such​ ​ciphers​ ​can​ ​scarcely​ ​have​ ​the intensity​ ​of​ ​meaning​ ​of​ ​those​ ​events​ ​which​ ​happened​ ​to​ ​Oedipus​ ​and​ ​Lear. Most​ ​of​ ​the​ ​interesting​ ​modern​ ​playwrights​ ​have​ ​fortunately​ ​paid​ ​very​ ​little​ ​attention​ ​to this​ ​view​ ​and​ ​have​ ​quietly​ ​gone​ ​about​ ​their​ ​business​ ​of​ ​creating​ ​a​ ​large​ ​and​ ​significant repertory​ ​of​ ​plays.​ ​Despite​ ​sporadic​ ​attempts,​ ​impelled​ ​mainly​ ​by​ ​the​ ​critics,​ ​to​ ​return​ ​to traditional​ ​forms,​ ​most​ ​of​ ​the​ ​interesting​ ​modern​ ​playwrights​ ​have​ ​plowed​ ​new​ ​fields. Endeavoring​ ​to​ ​create​ ​a​ ​drama​ ​equal​ ​in​ ​intensity​ ​to​ ​tragedy,​ ​they​ ​have​ ​either​ ​turned away​ ​from​ ​tradition​ ​entirely​ ​or​ ​utilized​ ​it​ ​in​ ​some​ ​fresh​ ​fashion.​ ​Mythology​ ​in​ ​modern dress,​ ​symbolism,​ ​expressionism,​ ​that​ ​neo-expressionism​ ​called​ ​vaguely​ ​the​ ​Theater​ ​of the​ ​Absurd,​ ​and​ ​that​ ​absurd​ ​theater​ ​called​ ​vaguely​ ​the​ ​poetic​ ​drama​ ​have​ ​all​ ​had​ ​their champions.​ ​Certain​ ​pre-eminently​ ​brilliant​ ​dramatists,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​Strindberg​ ​and​ ​Shaw, could​ ​create​ ​the​ ​tragic​ ​effect​ ​by​ ​other​ ​types​ ​of​ ​plot​ ​and​ ​in​ ​a​ ​much​ ​less​ ​traditional manner​ ​than​ ​that​ ​discovered​ ​by​ ​Aristotle​ ​in​ ​the​ ​dramas​ ​of​ ​Sophocles.​ ​However,​ ​the triumphs​ ​of​ ​Strindberg​ ​and​ ​Shaw​ ​did​ ​not​ ​invalidate​ ​Aristotle’s​ ​perception;​ ​they​ ​merely emphasized​ ​that​ ​there​ ​are​ ​two​ ​tragic​ ​traditions​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Western​ ​world—the​ ​austere​ ​and the​ ​experimental. Perhaps​ ​the​ ​austere​ ​tradition​ ​may​ ​be​ ​most​ ​easily​ ​traced​ ​by​ ​the​ ​plot​ ​structure​ ​that Aristotle​ ​discovered​ ​in​ ​Oedipus​ ​Rex​.​ ​Certainly,​ ​considering​ ​structure​ ​alone,​ ​one​ ​may easily​ ​see​ ​that​ ​Euripides,​ ​Shakespeare,​ ​O’Casey,​ ​and​ ​Tennessee​ ​Williams​ ​belong​ ​to one​ ​tradition,​ ​and​ ​Sophocles,​ ​Racine,​ ​Ibsen,​ ​and​ ​Arthur​ ​Miller​ ​to​ ​another.​ ​Yet​ ​the​ ​plays of​ ​Miller​ ​have​ ​more​ ​than​ ​a​ ​merely​ ​structural​ ​similarity​ ​to​ ​those​ ​of​ ​Sophocles​ ​and​ ​Racine and​ ​Ibsen.​ ​Like​ ​the​ ​plays​ ​of​ ​those​ ​earlier​ ​men,​ ​Miller’s​ ​also​ ​vitally​ ​embody​ ​the​ ​austere tragic​ ​spirit.​ ​That​ ​embodiment,​ ​in​ ​a​ ​time​ ​which​ ​is​ ​overwhelmingly​ ​Page​ ​146 eclectic​ ​and experimental,​ ​gives​ ​the​ ​real​ ​meaning​ ​and​ ​the​ ​real​ ​importance​ ​to​ ​the​ ​work​ ​of​ ​Arthur Miller. Arthur​ ​Miller​ ​was​ ​born​ ​on​ ​October​ ​17,​ ​1915,​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Harlem​ ​section​ ​of​ ​Manhattan.​ ​His father​ ​was​ ​a​ ​prosperous​ ​manufacturer,​ ​and​ ​his​ ​mother,​ ​herself​ ​the​ ​daughter​ ​of​ ​a manufacturer,​ ​had​ ​been​ ​a​ ​teacher​ ​in​ ​the​ ​public​ ​school​ ​that​ ​Miller​ ​attended​ ​in​ ​Harlem. Miller​ ​was​ ​such​ ​a​ ​poor​ ​student​ ​that,​ ​although​ ​his​ ​teachers​ ​looked​ ​him​ ​up​ ​in​ ​their​ ​records after​ ​he​ ​had​ ​become​ ​a​ ​notable​ ​playwright,​ ​none​ ​of​ ​them​ ​could​ ​actually​ ​remember​ ​him. He​ ​failed​ ​many​ ​subjects,​ ​including​ ​algebra​ ​three​ ​times.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​more​ ​interested​ ​in sports​ ​than​ ​in​ ​school,​ ​and​ ​later​ ​remarked,​ ​“Until​ ​the​ ​age​ ​of​ ​seventeen​ ​I​ ​can​ ​safely​ ​say that​ ​I​ ​never​ ​read​ ​a​ ​book​ ​weightier​ ​than​ ​Tom​ ​Swift​,​ ​and​ ​Rover​ ​Boys​,​ ​and​ ​only​ ​verged​ ​on literature​ ​with​ ​some​ ​of​ ​Dickens.” The​ ​family​ ​fortunes​ ​having​ ​been​ ​lost​ ​in​ ​the​ ​crash​ ​of​ ​1929,​ ​Miller​ ​went​ ​to​ ​work​ ​after​ ​high school​ ​in​ ​an​ ​automobile​ ​parts​ ​warehouse​ ​on​ ​Tenth​ ​Avenue​ ​in​ ​Manhattan.​ ​During​ ​this time​ ​he​ ​picked​ ​up​ ​a​ ​copy​ ​of​ ​The​ ​Brothers​ ​Karamazov​ ​under​ ​the​ ​impression​ ​that​ ​it​ ​was​ ​a detective​ ​story​ ​and​ ​read​ ​it​ ​on​ ​the​ ​subway​ ​to​ ​and ​from​ ​work.​ ​The​ ​book​ ​made​ ​such​ ​an impact​ ​upon​ ​him​ ​that​ ​he​ ​determined​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​writer,​ ​and​ ​for​ ​two​ ​and​ ​a​ ​half​ ​years​ ​he saved​ ​thirteen​ ​dollars​ ​a​ ​week​ ​from​ ​his​ ​fifteen-dollar​ ​salary​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​finance​ ​a​ ​year​ ​in college.​ ​Finally,​ ​after​ ​some​ ​eloquent​ ​letter​ ​writing​ ​on​ ​his​ ​part,​ ​he​ ​was​ ​admitted​ ​to​ ​the University​ ​of​ ​Michigan​ ​as​ ​a​ ​journalism​ ​student.​ ​He​ ​managed​ ​to​ ​maintain​ ​himself​ ​in college​ ​by​ ​a​ ​small​ ​salary​ ​as​ ​night​ ​editor​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Michigan​ ​Daily​,​ ​by​ ​aid​ ​from​ ​the​ ​National Youth​ ​Administration,​ ​and​ ​by​ ​an​ ​occasional​ ​prize​ ​won​ ​by​ ​his​ ​writing.​ ​In​ ​college​ ​he began​ ​to​ ​write​ ​plays​ ​and​ ​twice​ ​won​ ​Michigan’s​ ​Avery​ ​Hopwood​ ​Award.​ ​One​ ​of​ ​these prize​ ​plays,​ ​The​ ​Grass​ ​Still​ ​Grows​,​ ​also​ ​won​ ​the​ ​Theatre​ ​Guild​ ​National​ ​Award​ ​of​ ​$1250 in​ ​1938. Miller​ ​received​ ​his​ ​B.A.​ ​in​ ​1938,​ ​and​ ​returned​ ​to​ ​New​ ​York​ ​to​ ​work​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Federal Theatre​ ​Project​ ​in​ ​its​ ​last​ ​months.​ ​For​ ​the​ ​project​ ​he​ ​wrote​ ​a​ ​comedy,​ ​but​ ​plans​ ​for​ ​its production​ ​were​ ​abandoned​ ​when​ ​Congress​ ​did​ ​not​ ​appropriate​ ​funds​ ​to​ ​continue​ ​the theater.​ ​Out​ ​of​ ​a​ ​job,​ ​Miller​ ​turned​ ​to​ ​writing​ ​for​ ​radio​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​to​ ​working​ ​in​ ​the Brooklyn​ ​Navy​ ​Yard​ ​and​ ​in​ ​a​ ​box​ ​factory.​ ​In​ ​1940​ ​he​ ​married​ ​Mary​ ​Grace​ ​Slattery, whom​ ​he​ ​had​ ​met​ ​in​ ​college,​ ​and​ ​they​ ​subsequently​ ​had​ ​two​ ​children. Miller​ ​did​ ​not​ ​relish​ ​writing​ ​for​ ​radio.​ ​The​ ​medium​ ​had​ ​too​ ​many​ ​taboos​ ​and​ ​restrictions, and​ ​its​ ​scripts​ ​had​ ​to​ ​be​ ​short​ ​and​ ​almost​ ​banally​ ​simple.​ ​As​ ​he​ ​remarked​ ​to​ ​a​ ​New York​ ​Times​ ​interviewer​ ​in​ ​1947,​ ​“I​ ​despise​ ​radio.​ ​Every​ ​emotion​ ​in​ ​a​ ​radio​ ​script​ ​has​ ​to have​ ​a​ ​tag.​ ​It’s​ ​like​ ​playing​ ​a​ ​scene​ ​in​ ​a​ ​dark​ ​closet.” Although​ ​radio​ ​in​ ​the​ ​1940’s​ ​was​ ​a​ ​wasteland​ ​as​ ​vast​ ​as​ ​the​ ​television​ ​of​ ​today,​ ​Miller found​ ​in​ ​it​ ​more​ ​freedom​ ​than​ ​did​ ​many​ ​other​ ​writers.​ ​He​ ​did​ ​not​ ​have​ ​to​ ​grind​ ​out unvarying​ ​and​ ​unending​ ​segments​ ​of​ ​Portia​ ​Faces​ ​Life​ ​or​ ​Fibber​ ​McGee​ ​and​ ​Molly​,​ ​for much​ ​of​ ​his​ ​work​ ​was​ ​done​ ​for​ ​The​ ​Cavalcade​ ​of​ ​America​ ​and​ ​The​ ​Columbia Workshop​,​ ​two​ ​series​ ​which​ ​offered​ ​some​ ​opportunity​ ​for​ ​variety​ ​and​ ​originality. Actually,​ ​his​ ​many​ ​scripts​ ​must​ ​have​ ​served​ ​as​ ​a​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​artistic​ ​discipline,​ ​for​ ​he became​ ​skillful​ ​enough​ ​to​ ​pound​ ​out​ ​a​ ​completed​ ​half-hour​ ​script​ ​in​ ​eight​ ​hours. A​ ​few​ ​of​ ​Miller’s​ ​radio​ ​scripts​ ​have​ ​been​ ​published.​ ​Their​ ​intrinsic​ ​merit​ ​is​ ​not​ ​enormous, but​ ​they​ ​show​ ​a​ ​freshness​ ​fairly​ ​rare​ ​for​ ​radio,​ ​and​ ​they​ ​help​ ​to​ ​refute​ ​the​ ​notion​ ​of​ ​Miller as​ ​a​ ​totally​ ​humorless​ ​conscience​ ​of​ ​his​ ​race.​ ​“The​ ​Pussycat​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Expert​ ​Plumber Who​ ​Was​ ​a​ ​Man”​ ​is​ ​a​ ​light,​ ​Saroyanesque​ ​fantasy​ ​about​ ​a​ ​talking​ ​cat​ ​who​ ​blackmails some​ ​Page​ ​147 influential​ ​politicians​ ​into​ ​letting​ ​him​ ​run​ ​for​ ​governor.​ ​Two​ ​of​ ​the speeches​ ​suggest​ ​the​ ​central​ ​preoccupations​ ​of​ ​Miller’s​ ​mature​ ​work.​ ​At​ ​one​ ​point​ ​Tom the​ ​cat​ ​remarks,​ ​“…the​ ​one​ ​thing​ ​a​ ​man​ ​fears​ ​most​ ​next​ ​to​ ​death​ ​is​ ​the​ ​loss​ ​of​ ​his​ ​good name.​ ​Man​ ​is​ ​evil​ ​in​ ​his​ ​own​ ​eyes,​ ​my​ ​friends,​ ​worthless,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​only​ ​way​ ​he​ ​can​ ​find respect​ ​for​ ​himself​ ​is​ ​by​ ​getting​ ​other​ ​people​ ​to​ ​say​ ​he’s​ ​a​ ​nice​ ​fellow.”​ ​This​ ​concern​ ​is precisely​ ​what​ ​bedevils​ ​John​ ​Proctor​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​The​ ​Crucible​ ​and​ ​Eddie​ ​Carbone​ ​at the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​A​ ​View​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Bridge​.​ ​This​ ​premise—that​ ​the​ ​most​ ​valid​ ​and​ ​fertile​ ​subject for​ ​the​ ​drama​ ​is​ ​the​ ​attempt​ ​to​ ​show​ ​man​ ​struggling​ ​to​ ​be​ ​at​ ​one​ ​with​ ​society​ ​—is​ ​basic to​ ​probably​ ​all​ ​of​ ​Miller’s​ ​work. Miller​ ​has​ ​frequently​ ​discussed​ ​this​ ​theory.​ ​For​ ​instance,​ ​in​ ​his​ ​essay​ ​“On​ ​Socal​ ​Plays,” prefacing​ ​the​ ​1955​ ​edition​ ​of​ ​A​ ​View​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Bridge​,​ ​he​ ​wrote​ ​that​ ​this​ ​social​ ​concern was​ ​the​ ​primary​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Greek​ ​tragic​ ​writers​ ​and​ ​that​ ​the​ ​attempts​ ​of​ ​modern dramatists​ ​to​ ​show​ ​man​ ​striving​ ​for​ ​his​ ​individuality​ ​could​ ​end​ ​only​ ​in​ ​meaningless​ ​case histories.​ ​He​ ​wrote:​ ​“The​ ​social​ ​drama,​ ​as​ ​I​ ​see​ ​it,​ ​is​ ​the​ ​main​ ​stream​ ​and​ ​the​ ​antisocial drama​ ​a​ ​bypass.​ ​I​ ​can​ ​no​ ​longer​ ​take​ ​with​ ​ultimate​ ​seriousness​ ​a​ ​drama​ ​of​ ​individual psychology​ ​written​ ​for​ ​its​ ​own​ ​sake,​ ​however​ ​full​ ​it​ ​may​ ​be​ ​of​ ​insight​ ​and​ ​precise observation.​ ​Time​ ​is​ ​moving;​ ​there​ ​is​ ​a​ ​world​ ​to​ ​make,​ ​a​ ​civilization​ ​to​ ​create​ ​that​ ​will move​ ​toward​ ​the​ ​only​ ​goal​ ​the​ ​humanistic,​ ​democratic​ ​mind​ ​can​ ​ever​ ​accept​ ​with​ ​honor. It​ ​is​ ​a​ ​world​ ​in​ ​which​ ​the​ ​human​ ​being​ ​can​ ​live​ ​as​ ​a​ ​naturally​ ​political,​ ​naturally​ ​private, naturally​ ​engaged​ ​person,​ ​a​ ​world​ ​in​ ​which​ ​once​ ​again​ ​a​ ​true​ ​tragic​ ​victory​ ​may​ ​be scored.”​ ​Without​ ​such​ ​a​ ​social​ ​basis,​ ​the​ ​drama,​ ​he​ ​thought,​ ​would​ ​turn​ ​to​ ​its​ ​“true opposite,​ ​the​ ​antisocial​ ​and​ ​ultimately​ ​antidramatic​ ​drama.”​ ​This​ ​was​ ​written​ ​in​ ​the mid-1950’s​ ​before​ ​some​ ​of​ ​those​ ​plays​ ​of​ ​Tennessee​ ​Williams​ ​which​ ​seem​ ​most​ ​truly the​ ​dramatic​ ​extension​ ​of​ ​one​ ​man’s​ ​individual​ ​psychology,​ ​and​ ​before​ ​the​ ​great​ ​flux​ ​of antisocial​ ​dramas​ ​which​ ​have​ ​been​ ​lumped​ ​together​ ​under​ ​the​ ​description​ ​Theater​ ​of the​ ​Absurd. This​ ​preoccupation​ ​is​ ​interesting​ ​to​ ​find​ ​in​ ​Miller​ ​as​ ​far​ ​back​ ​as​ ​1941,​ ​but​ ​his​ ​solution​ ​to the​ ​problem​ ​then​ ​was​ ​considerably​ ​simpler​ ​than​ ​what​ ​he​ ​could​ ​later​ ​accept.​ ​In​ ​“The Pussycat​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Expert​ ​Plumber​ ​Who​ ​Was​ ​a​ ​Man,”​ ​Tom​ ​is​ ​exposed​ ​by​ ​an​ ​expert plumber​ ​named​ ​Sam​ ​and​ ​explains​ ​his​ ​exposure​ ​by​ ​remarking,​ ​“a​ ​cat​ ​will​ ​do​ ​anything, the​ ​worst​ ​things,​ ​to​ ​fill​ ​his​ ​stomach,​ ​but​ ​a​ ​man…​ ​a​ ​man​ ​will​ ​actually​ ​prefer​ ​to​ ​stay​ ​poor because​ ​of​ ​an​ ​ideal.​ ​That’s​ ​why​ ​I​ ​could​ ​never​ ​be​ ​president;​ ​because​ ​some​ ​men​ ​are​ ​not like​ ​cats.​ ​Because​ ​some​ ​men,​ ​some​ ​useful​ ​men,​ ​like​ ​expert​ ​plumbers,​ ​are​ ​so​ ​proud​ ​of their​ ​usefulness​ ​that​ ​they​ ​don’t​ ​need​ ​the​ ​respect​ ​of​ ​their​ ​neighbours​ ​and​ ​so​ ​they​ ​aren’t afraid​ ​to​ ​speak​ ​the​ ​truth.”​ ​In​ ​his​ ​mature​ ​plays​ ​up​ ​to​ ​The​ ​Misfits​,​ ​Miller​ ​postulated​ ​that men​ ​do​ ​need​ ​the​ ​respect​ ​of​ ​their​ ​neighbors.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​this​ ​need​ ​that​ ​makes​ ​John​ ​Proctor retract​ ​his​ ​lie​ ​and​ ​Eddie​ ​Carbone​ ​insist​ ​upon​ ​his. Another​ ​of​ ​Miller’s​ ​radio​ ​scripts,​ ​“Grandpa​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Statue,”​ ​has​ ​less​ ​merit​ ​than​ ​“The Pussycat,”​ ​but​ ​the​ ​theme​ ​that​ ​man​ ​needs​ ​society​ ​is​ ​more​ ​evident.​ ​Grandpa​ ​Monaghan refuses​ ​to​ ​contribute​ ​money​ ​for​ ​the​ ​pedestal​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Statue​ ​of​ ​Liberty,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​story shows​ ​how​ ​he​ ​learns​ ​that​ ​his​ ​decision​ ​was​ ​wrong.​ ​He​ ​finds​ ​that​ ​he​ ​needs​ ​society​ ​and must​ ​be​ ​an​ ​integral​ ​part​ ​of​ ​it,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​statue​ ​comes​ ​to​ ​symbolize​ ​for​ ​him​ ​all​ ​that​ ​he inarticulately​ ​feels. A​ ​third​ ​radio​ ​play,​ ​“William​ ​Ireland’s​ ​Confession,”​ ​is​ ​a​ ​droll​ ​historical​ ​script​ ​about​ ​the author​ ​of​ ​some​ ​notable​ ​Shakespearean​ ​forgeries.​ ​Its​ ​psychology​ ​is​ ​simplified​ ​for​ ​radio, but​ ​it ​is​ ​not​ ​a​ ​bad​ ​script.​ ​This​ ​radio​ ​play,​ ​and​ ​a​ ​patriotic​ ​one​ ​about​ ​the​ ​wartime​ ​merchant marine,​ ​“The​ ​Story​ ​of​ ​Gus,”​ ​are​ ​worth​ ​noticing​ ​Page​ ​148 because​ ​of​ ​their​ ​fluently shifting​ ​scenes.​ ​The​ ​freedom​ ​in​ ​a​ ​radio​ ​script​ ​to​ ​shift​ ​scenes​ ​simply​ ​and​ ​easily​ ​may​ ​well have​ ​had​ ​some​ ​bearing​ ​on​ ​much​ ​of​ ​Miller’s​ ​later​ ​work,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​Death​ ​of​ ​a​ ​Salesman,​ ​A View​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Bridge​,​ ​and​ ​After​ ​the​ ​Fall​.​ ​Despite​ ​the​ ​realistic​ ​manner​ ​of​ ​The​ ​Man​ ​Who Had​ ​All​ ​the​ ​Luck,​ ​All​ ​My​ ​Sons​,​ ​and​ ​The​ ​Crucible​,​ ​Miller​ ​has​ ​never​ ​regarded​ ​realism​ ​as an​ ​end​ ​in​ ​itself,​ ​but​ ​only​ ​as​ ​a​ ​tool​ ​to​ ​be​ ​mastered. The​ ​radio​ ​plays​ ​may​ ​have​ ​had​ ​another​ ​influence​ ​on​ ​the​ ​development​ ​of​ ​Miller’s​ ​mature technique.​ ​Two​ ​of​ ​these​ ​plays​ ​are​ ​stories​ ​told​ ​by​ ​a​ ​narrator​ ​and​ ​one​ ​of​ ​them​ ​concludes with​ ​a​ ​scene​ ​in​ ​Heaven.​ ​In​ ​his​ ​mature​ ​plays,​ ​Miller​ ​has​ ​been​ ​absorbed​ ​by​ ​the​ ​problems that​ ​Ibsenian​ ​realism​ ​did​ ​not​ ​quite​ ​satisfactorily​ ​solve.​ ​These​ ​are​ ​the​ ​problems​ ​of​ ​how​ ​to range​ ​more​ ​broadly​ ​through​ ​time​ ​and​ ​of​ ​how​ ​to​ ​probe​ ​more​ ​deeply​ ​into​ ​the​ ​mind​ ​than the​ ​front-parlor​ ​drama​ ​allows.​ ​Without​ ​wishing​ ​to​ ​curtail​ ​the​ ​objectivity​ ​of​ ​realism,​ ​he​ ​has wanted​ ​to​ ​combine​ ​with​ ​it​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​subjective​ ​strength​ ​to​ ​be​ ​found​ ​in​ ​various nonrealistic​ ​manners​ ​like​ ​that​ ​of​ ​the​ ​dream​ ​play​ ​or​ ​expressionism.​ ​As​ ​he​ ​wrote​ ​in​ ​“On Social​ ​Plays,”​ ​the​ ​struggle​ ​taking​ ​place​ ​in​ ​the​ ​drama​ ​today​ ​is​ ​“a​ ​struggle​ ​at​ ​one​ ​and​ ​the same​ ​time​ ​to​ ​write​ ​of​ ​private​ ​persons​ ​privately​ ​and​ ​yet​ ​lift​ ​up​ ​their​ ​means​ ​of​ ​expression to​ ​a​ ​poetic—that​ ​is,​ ​a​ ​social—level.”​ ​His​ ​most​ ​effective​ ​way​ ​so​ ​far​ ​of​ ​solving​ ​this problem​ ​is​ ​by​ ​the​ ​technique​ ​of​ ​the​ ​narrator,​ ​which​ ​he​ ​first​ ​used​ ​in​ ​these​ ​early​ ​radio plays. Having​ ​made​ ​something​ ​of​ ​a​ ​reputation​ ​by​ ​his​ ​radio​ ​work,​ ​Miller​ ​was​ ​hired​ ​in​ ​1944​ ​by Lester​ ​Cowan,​ ​a​ ​movie​ ​producer,​ ​to​ ​visit​ ​army​ ​camps​ ​and​ ​gather​ ​material​ ​for​ ​The​ ​Story of​ ​GI​ ​Joe​,​ ​a​ ​film​ ​to​ ​be​ ​based​ ​more​ ​or​ ​less​ ​on​ ​Ernie​ ​Pyle’s​ ​newspaper​ ​columns.​ ​He​ ​spent a​ ​couple​ ​of​ ​months​ ​at​ ​army​ ​camps,​ ​observing​ ​various​ ​types​ ​of​ ​training,​ ​and​ ​talking​ ​with officers​ ​and​ ​men.​ ​What​ ​came​ ​out​ ​of​ ​the​ ​experience ​was​ ​his​ ​book​ ​of​ ​reportage,​ ​Situation Normal​.​ ​The​ ​book​ ​is​ ​still​ ​worth​ ​reading,​ ​although​ ​not​ ​so​ ​much​ ​for​ ​its​ ​rather​ ​superficial reporting​ ​as​ ​for​ ​a​ ​pervasive​ ​idealism​ ​which​ ​Miller​ ​would​ ​probably​ ​now​ ​consider​ ​naïve. Actually,​ ​the​ ​book​ ​sheds​ ​more​ ​light​ ​on​ ​Miller​ ​the​ ​writer​ ​than​ ​on​ ​the​ ​war​ ​and​ ​the​ ​army. His​ ​producer​ ​had​ ​commissioned​ ​him​ ​to​ ​find​ ​out​ ​what​ ​the​ ​war​ ​and​ ​the​ ​army​ ​were​ ​really like,​ ​so​ ​that​ ​this​ ​film​ ​would​ ​be​ ​an​ ​honest​ ​one​ ​that​ ​avoided​ ​the​ ​usual​ ​cinema​ ​clichés.​ ​To this​ ​purpose,​ ​Miller​ ​added​ ​another,​ ​for​ ​“you​ ​cannot,”​ ​he​ ​wrote,​ ​“make​ ​a​ ​true​ ​picture​ ​of this​ ​war​ ​until​ ​you​ ​make​ ​up​ ​your​ ​mind​ ​as​ ​to​ ​what​ ​this​ ​war​ ​is​ ​about.”​ ​Actually,​ ​the​ ​book makes​ ​clear​ ​that​ ​Miller​ ​had​ ​already​ ​decided​ ​what​ ​the​ ​war​ ​was​ ​about​ ​and​ ​that​ ​he​ ​was really​ ​attempting​ ​to​ ​discover​ ​his​ ​conclusions​ ​in​ ​the​ ​men​ ​he​ ​talked​ ​to.​ ​His​ ​attempts​ ​to draw​ ​generalizations​ ​from​ ​the​ ​soldiers​ ​about​ ​the​ ​nature​ ​of​ ​fascism​ ​and​ ​democracy came​ ​to​ ​nothing,​ ​however,​ ​and​ ​even​ ​in​ ​his​ ​discussions​ ​with​ ​Ernie​ ​Pyle​ ​he​ ​did​ ​not​ ​find this​ ​broad​ ​concern​ ​with​ ​the​ ​reasons​ ​for​ ​the​ ​war.​ ​He​ ​wrote:​ ​“It​ ​is​ ​terrible​ ​to​ ​me​ ​that everything​ ​is​ ​so​ ​personal;​ ​I​ ​mean​ ​that​ ​never​ ​in​ ​any​ ​of​ ​these​ ​calculations​ ​about​ ​the soldier​ ​can​ ​I​ ​honestly​ ​bring​ ​in​ ​the​ ​socio-political​ ​context​ ​of​ ​this​ ​war.​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​seem​ ​to​ ​find men​ ​who​ ​betray​ ​a​ ​social​ ​responsibility​ ​as​ ​a​ ​reason​ ​for​ ​doing​ ​or​ ​not​ ​doing​ ​anything. Maybe​ ​it​ ​was​ ​always​ ​so.​ ​Maybe​ ​that’s​ ​why​ ​Tom​ ​Paine​ ​got​ ​drunk​ ​all​ ​the​ ​time.”​ ​He​ ​was too​ ​honest​ ​a​ ​reporter​ ​to​ ​describe​ ​what​ ​he​ ​did​ ​not​ ​see,​ ​but​ ​he​ ​was​ ​also​ ​too​ ​committed​ ​a thinker​ ​to​ ​relinquish​ ​his​ ​preconceptions.​ ​“I​ ​can’t​ ​give​ ​up​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​that​ ​political​ ​and economic​ ​beliefs​ ​have​ ​something​ ​to​ ​do​ ​with​ ​how​ ​these​ ​men​ ​react​ ​to​ ​this​ ​training​ ​and​ ​to the​ ​idea​ ​of​ ​fighting.”​ ​Perhaps,​ ​he​ ​thought,​ ​the​ ​soldiers​ ​did​ ​have​ ​the​ ​beliefs​ ​for​ ​which​ ​he was​ ​searching,​ ​even​ ​though​ ​“in​ ​a​ ​totally​ ​unsuspected​ ​guise,​ ​in​ ​different​ ​forms​ ​than writers​ ​usually​ ​conceive​ ​them…​ ​through​ ​some​ ​osmotic​ ​absorption.” Page​ ​149 To​ ​oversimplify​ ​Miller’s​ ​view​ ​somewhat,​ ​he​ ​regarded​ ​the​ ​war​ ​as​ ​a​ ​struggle​ ​between​ ​the principles​ ​of​ ​democratic​ ​equality​ ​and​ ​fascistic​ ​tyranny,​ ​and​ ​his​ ​book​ ​shows​ ​him determined​ ​to​ ​discover​ ​this​ ​same​ ​view​ ​in​ ​men​ ​for​ ​whom​ ​it​ ​was​ ​a​ ​purely​ ​academic​ ​and even​ ​an​ ​irrelevant​ ​point.​ ​His​ ​book​ ​makes​ ​quite​ ​clear​ ​that​ ​this​ ​view,​ ​even​ ​though​ ​he​ ​did not​ ​find​ ​it​ ​in​ ​the​ ​soldiers,​ ​is​ ​still​ ​going​ ​to​ ​be​ ​the​ ​focal​ ​point​ ​of​ ​the​ ​film​ ​which​ ​is​ ​jelling​ ​in his​ ​mind.​ ​In​ ​other​ ​words,​ ​Miller​ ​is​ ​attempting​ ​in​ ​this​ ​first​ ​book​ ​exactly​ ​what​ ​he​ ​would attempt​ ​again​ ​and​ ​again​ ​in​ ​his​ ​mature​ ​plays—to​ ​give​ ​to​ ​individual​ ​man,​ ​from​ ​the workings​ ​of​ ​society,​ ​his​ ​reason​ ​for​ ​existence,​ ​his​ ​personal​ ​significance,​ ​and​ ​his​ ​morality. Here​ ​his​ ​quest​ ​seems​ ​quixotic,...
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