The American Dream in ''All My Sons'' by Arthur Miller

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How does Arthur Miller show that the American Dream has become perverted in ‘All my Sons’´? Do you think Miller is totally against the concept? Or just what it had become in his time?

“Seven Deadly Sins:
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Science without humanity
Knowledge without character
Politics without principle
Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice.”

Mahatma Gandhi

‘The social, economical and educational equal rights for all citizens’. The previous line summarizes the definition people give of what they understand as the American Dream. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the American Dream corresponds to ‘the ideal by which equality of opportunity is available to any American, allowing the highest aspirations and goals to be achieved’. Many people in the United States of America, where the term was invented during the 30’s, are looking after the American Dream. It has become the aspiration of many, even to people from other countries. Nowadays, the term is as inspirational as controversial, since the opportunities become harder to get day by day. The truth is that, even though the American Dream is harder to achieve, it encourages people to achieve what they want. As some may see it, the problem is not the American Dream itself but the way in which each person achieves it. Sometimes people forget their values and principles while pursuing their dream and that is the problem. And this is exactly what happens with Joe Keller, one of the main characters in Arthur Miller’s play ‘All my Sons’. Keller proves throughout the play how perverted a man can become when his ambitions are more important than his morality and values.

At the beginning of the play, Miller’s starts describing the house in which the Keller’s live. The author gives some important details in order to show the reader that the Keller’s are actually living the American Dream. In the first two paragraphs, the readers are able to know things such as the location, which corresponds to ‘the outskirts of an American town’ (Miller, Act 1, Page 3), the size of the house, which is ‘two stories high’ (Miller, Act 1, Page 3), and the cost of the property, which may ‘have cost fifteen thousand in the early twenties’ (Miller, Act 1, Page 3). With this, the author is telling the readers how wealthy this family is. Then, Miller continues with a quick description of some of the characters, and there is when some aspects about Joe Keller’s personality arise. The author tells us that Keller is a ‘man of stolid mind’ and ‘uneducated’ (Miller, Act 1, Page 3). As the play starts, the author shows Joe Keller commenting on the want ads he is reading on the newspaper with one of his neighbours. After a couple of lines and after reading some unusual occupations, Keller says that in his days ‘either you were a lawyer, or a doctor or you worked in a shop’ (Miller, Act 1, Page 5). Since Joe Keller was neither a professional nor he worked in a shop, one inmediately infer that Keller had to work really hard in order to achieving the American Dream, and together with this extra effort ambitions and mistakes also become bigger. By the end of chapter two, the truth is out and the reader finally finds out that Keller was the responsible for the death of the 21 pilots and, more importantly, that he did it on purpose. Keller says to Chris that he had shipped the faulty parts ‘for you, a business for you’ (Miller, Act 2, Page 78) as a way of justifying his actions. According to the previous line, the readers notice that Keller’s American Dream centred in economic success only. Consequently, Miller points out how this persistent pursuing of money lead Keller to lose his sense of morality and his values, and by this, he loses everything in the end. Commerce without morality was Joe Keller’s deadly sin in this case.

The main goal in Joe Keller’s American Dream was, in the first place, to become the owner of a factory, and secondly, to have a...
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