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Miller as a Social Dramatist; Main Characteristics of His Plays; A Modern Dramatist

Miller belongs to expressionistic school of drama, which explores through outer symbols
and impressions the inner state of mind. He is one of the internationally well known modern
dramatists in America and in the world. He says that truth, courage, trust, responsibility and
faith must be the central value of men. He writes social tragedies. In his plays, Fate is not the
destroying force(as Greek tragedy says). Both the society and the individual are responsible for
the tragedy in his plays. His major plays are The Crucible, The Death of A Salesman, All My
Sons, A View from the Bridge, The Misfits, After the Fall, Incident at Vichy and The Price. He
is a modern dramatist.
His tragedies are not like Shaw and Galsworthy. His heroes are not kings or outstanding
persons. They are ordinary men in this ordinary world surrounded by the environmentthe
family, the society and the state. The society wins in the end. The tragic feeling is invoked in us
not by terror and fear but a characters readiness to lay down his life to secure his personal
dignity. He can be said a social dramatist in the real sense. Miller has restored social criticism to
the drama. He fuses the social and psychological in his dramas. His heroes revolt against the
customs and demands of the society and lose. Their struggle to escape from the pangs of society
fails badly. As a socialist he is more of a humanist than of a Marxist.
Miller is a realistic playwright. His characters are real, life like people. His drama
revolves round the family and has a realistic basis. His yoking past and present is equal to
psychological reality. His characters talk like real Americans of today; they use a language we
should like to use in their situations. Sometimes, his realism is tinged with romanticism and
sentimentalism. His purpose is to examine real human nature and he is always successful in this.
To convey his message, he uses symbols. But his symbols are not as deep rooted as in
Synge. His symbols are simple. His language, characters, plots, themes, and dialogues are
realistic. His language is simple, colloquial, and easy to understand. He combines the emotional
and the psychological along with the physical and the social. Miller also uses many rhetoric
devices. He creates effect by repetition. Sometimes, Miller uses ungrammatical and comic
idiom in his dramas. This technique gives his plays a realistic touch.
He is a playwright of today-- the present time. His are not sensational dramas. His
characters are always busy evaluating themselves. According to Miller, tragedy depends on
mans willingness to sacrifice himself in his fight against environment, society and
circumstances. He has been mainly influenced by the depression of his times, by Ibsen,
Chekhov and Dostoievski and the German Expressionism. He has mainly focused upon a single
subject-the struggle.of the individual attempting to gain his rightful position in his
society and his family. Shaw deals with the intellectual, the social, the moral; Eliot with the
moral, the religious; Tennessee Williams with the psychological but Arthur Miller tried to deal
with all of thesethe intellectual, the moral, the religious, the social and the psychological.
Miller as a dramatist has some shortcomings too. There is a lack of humour in his plays.
He does not explore a character fully. His plays give an impression of a hybrid of various
elements. His view of man seems to be a narrow one. He is not able to see the comic and bright
side of life. His vision thus remains incomplete.
Conclusion: Miller tells us of modern times. In all his plays, he uses language of an
ordinary man. His characters, language, plots, situations, and themes are up to date and real. He
uses imagery and metaphors along with symbolism to completely and comprehensively convey
his message to us. He is a social dramatist writing on social problems. He realistically shows the
plight of a modern man caught in firm clutches of the society. Man is bound to lose. He has
combined the social with the psychological. In a nutshell, he is a genius writing about the up to
date complexities and agony of modern man. He is a modern dramatist telling of modern mans
chaos in all his plays.
Created By:
Zeeshan Nawaz Bhalli M.A.

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