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In What Sense Do We Witness the Shattering of The American Dream in "All My Son's"?

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Introduction

In What Sense Do We Witness the Shattering of The American Dream in "All My Son's"? The term "The American Dream" was first used by James Truslow Adams in his book the "Epic of America" in 1931, a little over a decade before "All My Sons" was written. The American Dream is a dream of a social order in which each person shall be able to obtain the fullest potential of which they are capable, and be recognised by others for what they are, regardless of the circumstances of birth or position in society. In the play "All My Sons" by Arthur Miller we most definitely witness the attempt to create and inevitably the shattering of this ideal. Miller also uses this theme much more obviously in his play "Death of a Salesman." The play is about the business-success dream. Joe Keller has worked hard his whole life to create the perfect existence for his family who he loves dearly. His whole reason for existence is the son he has left after the war, Chris. He created the business for Chris and assumed that he would take over after he was gone. ...read more.

Middle

about when he was fighting, during the war. We see this again and again throughout the play; that Chris seems to have more of a global awareness, unlike his father whose mind is set in the close-knit community he has built around himself. Chris is thinking of "living someplace else. Maybe New York." He's not tied down to the traditional lifestyle that his father wants him to go into. And because his son is wanting to do his own thing, even if that means he must move away, Kellers' dream of his son taking over the business is destroyed. Keller seems to have got it into his head that money creates happiness. But despite their comfortable living with enough money and a maid, none of them are happy. A reason for this is that every one in this play, apart from Chris, are hiding something from someone else. Keller and his wife know that he is guilty of shipping out the cracked cylinder heads, and when Chris finds out he is crushed. Even in the stage directions it says he speaks "in a broken whisper". The exact moment where the dream is completely shattered is when Annie brother George comes back, to reveal the truth about Keller, and then Annie revealing the truth about Larry. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mainly the president of the Catholic War Veterans who said the play was a "party line Communist propaganda vehicle." Also some said its content was "an unfounded smear upon the American business community." This was all triggered by the Army making plans to show the play in occupied Germany, and due to the out rage the play was deemed unsuitable for performance in the American occupied areas and a declaration banned its performance in those regions. It was not the last time Miller would be tarred as a Communist, of course; in 1957 he was convicted of contempt of Congress when he refused to supply names to the House Un-American Activities Committee. But other than that this play has received lots of admirable and well-deserved praise. By concerning himself only with his family and his business, and not looking at the wider picture, Joe Keller has destroyed the exact thing he set out to create: happiness. His wife is not happy because her son is dead, Chris is not happy because he has dreams and ideas beyond the business which he is being forced into, and Keller himself has lived for three years with the shame of sending an innocent man to prison. In the end his belief in The American Dream has caused more suffering than happiness. Alice Heggie ...read more.

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