Broken Glass by Arthur Miller

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Scene 8, page 69 (What’s this tone of voice?) page 72 (end of scene). How far is the dramatic presentation of Gellburg and Sylvia in this extract typical of, and significant within, the play as a whole? Broken Glass, a play by Arthur Miller set in Brooklyn, 1938, focuses on the dwindling marriage of Sylvia and Gellburg during the aftermath of Kristallnacht. This scene unravels the complex relationship of the two and how they finally come to terms with the fundamental flaws in their marital relationship. We understand Sylvia’s condition as a response to both her husband’s attitude and the increasingly violent oppression of Jewish people in Nazi Germany. Gellburg, on the other hand is oblivious to the situation due to his self-inflicted ignorance: ‘What are you talking about, are you crazy?’ As a result of her obsession and her husband’s ignorance of the situation, she begins to take control of her life, becoming a strong Jewish woman, openly defying her authoritarian husband: Don’t you call me crazy, Phillip! I’m talking about it! They are smashing windows and beating children! (Screams at Gellburg) I am talking about it, Phillip! Miller makes his audience understand Sylvia and Gellburg’s relationship through the lens of their Jewish culture and throughout the play, Gellburg is eager to differentiate himself from other Jewish people. Sylvia finally brings the persecution of the Jews and the atrocity of the Nazi’s into the open and refuses to watch Gellburg brush off the growing tide of anti-Semitism any longer. Gellburg’s response to Slyvia’s outburst is not evidently displayed through speech, but through the use of Miller’s stage directions: ‘He is stock still; horrified, fearful’. The words ‘horrified’ and ‘fearful’ suggest that the news of such events came as a shock to him and undoubtedly indicate that he is affected by such news and is also stricken by Sylvia’s powerful, unexpected revelation of her feelings. Miller conveys the message that that Gellburg...
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