Top 6 'All My Sons' Essay Topics
In 1947 Arthur Miller was a struggling playwright whose first attempt had crashed disastrously on Broadway. In an attempt to improve on this he wrote a second play, All My Sons, which was a great success and established his reputation. The play remains popular today and has been filmed twice. Because of this popularity and the many issues it raises it commonly comes up as the basis for an essay. If you have to write an essay on the play, here are some suggested topics to get you started.
The play explores obligations in a number of ways. Many of the characters see a conflict between what they should do in the best interests of different groups. Joe Keller knowingly ships defective aircraft engine parts, ultimately causing the deaths of 21 USAAF pilots, because he sees the obligation to make money for his family as more important than the war effort.
There are few characters in the play who can't blame someone else for something and they aren't shy about doing so. What they're not so willing to do is to accept any blame themselves. Joe Keller for example, blames his jailed business partner for the defective parts even though he was deeply involved himself.
Business and Society
Miller's politics were generally leftish and he was an opponent of unrestricted capitalism. All My Sons portrays businessmen, in the shape of Joe, as people who put their own interests above those of society.
Joe's son Chris is perceived by the others as an idealist. In fact he doesn't show this characteristic very often, with the exception of reacting angrily to his father's profiteering. Joe Keller himself seems to perceive his lost ideals at the end; confronted with the reality of what he has done, he shoots himself.
Most of the characters are deceiving themselves at least to some extent. Joe's wife Kate refuses to believe that her other son Larry, who has been reported as Missing In Action, is dead.
The American Dream
In the play Miller criticizes the idea that success in America is defined purely in economic terms. Joe Keller is a successful businessman, but he has achieved this at the cost of many of the ideals that Miller sees as being truly American - human decency and mutual support, among others. Ironically for a man who was persecuted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Miller also seems to be advocating patriotism; by shipping defective parts Keller was placing his own interests above those of America.
All My Sons is obviously a very complex play and can be approached from a number of angles. Whatever one you choose, it's possible to write an engaging and high quality essay on it.
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