• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"Miller's plays show is that happiness can only be achieved by making moral compromises" To what extent does this claim apply to All My Sons?

Extracts from this document...


A critic has written that "Miller's plays show is that happiness can only be achieved by making moral compromises" To what extent does this claim apply to All My Sons? The critique about Miller's plays applies directly to the central theme, and protagonist of All My Sons. It could be argued, that Joe Keller's moral compromise, in that he allowed a batch of faulty cylinder heads to be shipped out and used in planes, resulted in the death of 21 pilots, was done to achieve happiness. For example, Joe claims he had to ship out the cylinder heads in order to keep the business running for Chris' future. "You're a boy, what could I do! ...a hundred and twenty cracked...you're out of business". This therefore shows that Joe felt happiness could only be achieved by earning money, although the money would come from making a moral compromise. In the same way, Joe uses the excuse of money which supposedly creates happiness, to justify what he did - "you wanted money so I made money...what must I be forgiven?" This quote is very telling of the fact that Joe Keller - the main character of Miller's All My Sons - believes that money is the root of happiness, and that he did nothing wrong in shipping out cracked cylinder heads i.e. making a moral compromise, because it would lead to the Keller family having money. ...read more.


The critic's view that happiness can only be achieved by making moral compromises in Miller's plays is again shown when looking at the main plot from a different angle. For example, the fact that moral compromises are made not only by Joe shipping out faulty cylinder heads - "you (Joe) thought they'd crash" - but by the fact that Kate is aware of what Joe did, yet both her and Joe conceal the truth from everyone - including their son. Kate conceals the truth in that she lies for Joe because if she admitted to everyone the truth that Joe in fact shipped out the faulty cylinder heads she would be admitting that Larry was dead. "Your brother's alive...because if he's dead your father killed him". Therefore, in terms of Kate, making moral compromises is the only way to achieve happiness, because if she admits to people that Joe shipped out faulty cylinder heads, she would be admitting that Joe killed her son - "God does not let a son be killed by his father". All the characters in the play at some point make moral compromises; the difference between them is whether the result is happiness. Chris appears to be the most moral character throughout the story, in that he does want to make moral compromises from the very beginning. "We've made a terrible mistake with mother...being dishonest with her. That kind of thing always pays off". ...read more.


Miller uses irony in his way of showing that certain characters believe that happiness can only be achieved by moral compromises. When Joe is explaining to Chris and Ann about how it was 'Steve's fault' that the faulty cylinders were shipped out, Ann says "He [Joe] just wants everybody happy". This therefore demonstrates the idea that happiness can only be achieved by making moral compromises. By Joe lying about the fact that Steve was the one who is guilty - "if I could have gone in that day I'd-a told him - junk 'em...but he was afraid", he is supposedly creating happiness. Therefore, making moral compromises is the only way to achieve happiness where Joe is concerned, as telling the truth would lead to great unhappiness for Joe. It could also be said that this irony foreshadows the idea that Joe may be trying to make people happy, however in the end, he will be the one that disrupts all happiness within the family. The Mail on Sunday commented that Miller was "a towering figure who represents the writer as a true moral force". However when considering All My Sons, the majority of the play, and in fact, all the characters, take part in deceit, lies, and secrets - that is to say they make moral compromises. Overall, these moral compromises lead to happiness in the short term, however long term, these secrets, lies, and moral compromises will be revealed and cause the downfall of the characters and disintegration of relationships which previously created happiness. Michelle Bailey ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Ethics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Ethics essays

  1. The Dual, Blurred Symbolism of The Scarlet Letter

    She is able to bear the burden of the letter because it is in the open; there is nothing she can do to hide it from the world. It is in this way that she can begin to transform herself and the ignominious A into something greater.

  2. Kantians believe promises should always be kept even if breaking brings about benefits because ...

    Kantian at first would say I made a promise and I have to keep it. It is my duty as a person who has morals to keep their promise. I have agreed to prepare the boy for medical school. Kantian would also say the " I have a duty toward

  1. life after death

    and gave gifts to his people."[a] romans 10 : 6-9 Notice that it says "he ascended." This means that Christ first came down to the lowly world in which we live. The bible teaches that there is a higher world which is heaven, a lowly world which is earth and a lower world which is hell.

  2. With reference to abortion, examine and comment on the view that the sanctity of ...

    So, should the view of the sanctity of life be regarded as a moral absolute, and thus making abortion the morally right or wrong thing to do? So far I have discovered that the Roman Catholic Church is un-mitigating on their belief that the sanctity of life should be regarded

  1. Discuss critically the claim that Freewill and Determinism are incompatible

    A traditional Judeo-Christian view is that human beings are free, autonomous agents, responsible for their own actions. In Genesis, Adam and Eve exercise their freewill by choosing to eat the forbidden fruit. They are held responsible for their actions, and God punishes them, banishing them from Eden.

  2. The Canterbury Tales: A Moral Reading.

    This tresor hath Fortune unto us yiven(sic) in mirth and jolitee our life to liven- and lightly as it cometh so wol we spende(sic). Ey! Goddes(sic) precious dignitee(sic)! We wende today that we shold(sic) han so fair a grace?"

  1. How might a moral relativist respond to the claim that people should always tell ...

    If we find he was like this, or that his action did have these results, then I have confirmed the statement that "Saddam Hussein is a very evil man". If the evidence points in the other direction, then the statement is false.

  2. Do Some of Us Take the Moral High Ground?

    as a species maintain our sustainability for future generations.Our actions today will have an impact on their values attitudes and beliefs. Bauman cites Beck ,Bauman 1992,who states that in our quest for industrialization,be it in the form of progress or modernisation ;we have over stepped the mark and we are now living in what he calls arisk society.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work