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'Discuss Arthur Miller's Representation Of Joe Keller As The Tragic Hero In All My Sons'

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Introduction

'Discuss Arthur Miller's Representation Of Joe Keller As The Tragic Hero In All My Sons' Ancient Greek tragedies were almost always about a protagonist with a tragic flaw. This flaw dictates the stories events and leads to the eventual downfall of the protagonist. The story cannot end until the protagonist has realised his flaw and tries to remedy it. This very often involves the protagonist dieing in an attempt to make right what wrongs he may have caused. Arthur Miller has borrowed this idea as a base for his play 'All My Sons'. The protagonist of this play is Joe Keller, a sixty-year-old retired factory owner. The play follows the story of him and his family ; his wife Kate, his son Chris and Chris' fianc´┐Że Annie in 1940's suburban America. The play reveals that Joe committed a crime; he knowingly sent out faulty cylinder heads for use in the war and then blamed his partner, Annie's dad, who went to prison instead of Joe. Kate also knows he did this and is struggling to keep the secret. However, she feels she has to believe he didn't do it or it means that he would have been responsible for the death of their other son Larry, who they believed died flying planes in the war. Joe is a victim of the American Dream. He wanted to do the best he could by his family, and in his quest for money, forgot about the greater scheme of things in the world. ...read more.

Middle

He feels it is wrong to have all these material possessions if you cannot appreciate how men have died for you to live to have these nice things. The irony in him saying this is that he hates people who cannot see that men died to give them freedom, when his father clearly thinks this way. This is tragic for Joe because he only wants to help make a better life for his family, and by sending out the faulty cylinder heads he thought he could, but Chris would not be able to understand that Joe cannot see beyond the forty-foot line. In Act Three Joe begins talking with George about Steve, George and Annie's father who is in prison instead of Joe. Joe seems to be really concerned about how Steve is. He says ' A little man makes a mistake and they hang him by the thumbs'. It is as if he is trying to reassure himself that the crime he committed was not as bad as it really was by saying ' makes a mistake'. He is accounting for his own actions through Steve. George goes on to say how Steve hates Joe's guts, which prompts a backlash of sorts form Joe. He says 'I'm sad to see he hasn't changed. After 25 years he still hasn't learned to take the blame.' At this point Joe feels threatened by George and feels he needs to re-clarify that it was Steve that did it to make himself feel better. ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows that Joe has trusted Kate with something that she is having trouble dealing with. The stage directions at the end of the play also tell the audience what has happened to Joe. ' A shot is heard from the house. They stand frozen for a brief second.' These stage directions explain exactly what has happened without the audience actually having to see his commit suicide. Miller uses dramatic devices to portray Joe Keller as a tragic hero in different ways, which are very successful. The way, in which he uses dialogue to reveal Joe's tragic flaw slowly and to then confirm the reasons behind the flaw, is a very subtle yet utterly effective means of portraying a character to an audience. You get to know what other characters think of Joe, and also what he is thinking himself, without the plot being too obvious and being revealed too early. The way that Miller uses these dramatic devices to piece together the story slowly makes for a very effective tension builder, which will keep the audience captivated throughout. Miller makes it easy for the audience to identify that Joe is a tragic hero right from the start. As soon as the audience is aware that Joe is keeping a secret is it obvious that he has committed an offence, which he is going to suffer for. Miller then shows the audience Joe's suffering, mostly through dialogue he has with the other characters. He then uses mostly stage directions to let the audience know how the play has finished, which is a very effective way to show his suicide, as it is not too brash, and perhaps unsympathetic of the situation. ...read more.

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