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Theme in “All My Sons” by Arthur Miller, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 627

Essay

All My Sons by Arthur Miller focuses on the unattainability of the American Dream. The play follows several families who interact with one another regularly, and none appear to be satisfied with their lives. While some individuals do not feel that their live is satisfactory due to their personal relationships, others are filled with disdain towards what they must do to earn a living. Arthur Miller uses this, and many of his other plays, to demonstrate to the audience that achieving the American Dream is not realistic. Americans all have certain expectations concerning what their lives should be like, but these often involve unattainable goals. It is therefore more important to focus less on our wants and more on our needs in order to ensure that we can live a live that feels fulfilling.

Throughout the play, the characters in All My Sons appear to be unhappy. This culminates at the end of the tale with the suicide of Joe Keller, who had spent a majority of his life blaming his coworker and friend, Steve Deever, for the deaths of 21 pilots due to an installation of faulty equipment. Joe fails to take credit for this error because he wishes to protect his family. However, he soon learns that he is unable to attain happiness as a consequence of his lie. His death marks the failure of the American Dream because in this ideal world, there are no feelings of guilt and parents are dedicated to the lives of their children. This scenario proved that at least one of these issues needed to exist. Joe needed to commit suicide to end his guilt, even though it left his children without a father.

Other characters in the play are unable to achieve the American Dream as well, although for a more superficial reason. Jim Bayliss is a doctor who works his job in order to support himself and his family. From an outsiders view, it would appear that this man is living the American dream because he is successful and holds a well-respected job. Despite this, Jim is unhappy with his current life and dreams of becoming a medical researcher. However, he is unable to achieve this goal, which indicates that the American Dream is unattainable for even the wealthier Americans in society.

Since the play was set in the aftermath of World War II, the most striking feature of the characters’ lives is that they are disturbed by the fact that life after the war is as if the war had never happened. This is particularly difficult for Chris Keller, who attempts to achieve the American Dream by asking Ann Deever, his brother’s ex-girlfriend, to marry him. He believes that doing so will allow his life to normalize, but this is not the case after his mother learned of the match. Furthermore, Chris is negatively impacted by the knowledge of his father’s involvement in the death of the pilots. This situation demonstrates that even though the characters strive to achieve, they are simply unable to do so. Since they are unable to achieve an ideal American life, they will never achieve happiness.

In conclusion, Arthur Miller uses All My Sonsto demonstrate the unattainability of the American Dream. Countless characters attempt to cope with the problems that have occurred as a result of societal issues in addition to the problems that occurred in their personal life. However, despite trying to overcome these events, they are unable to see an end in sight. Miller therefore tells us to abandon the American Dream because trying to reach for this goal will do more harm than good.

Works Cited

Centola, Steven R. “All My Sons.” Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller. Ed. Christopher Bigsby. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Miller, Arthur. All My Sons. New York: Nelson Doubleday, 1947.

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