Broken glass and the Depression
The Depression started on what became known as Black Thursday in 1929 when the US stock market collapsed. The event had massive repercussions throughout America and indeed the world, affecting many people’s lives as they found themselves suddenly broke, unemployed and in some cases homeless. Slide 2
Miller’s own experiences of family life during the Depression greatly colours his play “Broken Glass” especially in the characters. It is said that the his sympathetic portrayal of Sylvia represents his mother who doted upon him throughout his life and who had many admired characteristics such as being beautiful, strong-willed and clever (also reflected in Sylvia’s character) Phillip on the other hand appears to based on his floundering, weak, jewish father. Miller’s father received regular verbal abuse from his wife due to his loss of savings and investment causing them to lose the lifestyle they had become accustomed to e.g. house, maid etc. Slide 3
However not just the characters are a production of the Depression but also the plot. “Broken Glass” symbolises the world falling apart as financial pressure causes the American system and way of life to fragment. This is shown in various characteristics throughout he play
* Hyman is late due to new union strikes at the hospital
* Sylvia’s paralysis is due to the historical sense of confusion and collapse * Gellburg represents the demise of social climbers that are uncertainly allied with the establishment moneyed class * Gellburg also expresses the anti-refugee sentiment of the general public sue to the mass increase in unemployment figures * Harriet represents the general public’s feelings of isolationism Slide 4
A lot of the themes in “Broken Glass” also stem from the Depression. For example Miller’s central theme of the play is based around the message of the 1930s agitprop (Agitation and Propoganda) scheme. “people should not only protest but do...
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