How does Miller present the character of Gellburg in the opening 3 pages of the play?

Topics: Judaism / Pages: 6 (1270 words) / Published: Feb 9th, 2014
How does Miller present the character of Gellburg in the opening 3 pages of the play?
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Kristallnacht, 1938- Nazi's in Germany smash the windows of Jewish shops and set alight synagogues following the assassination of a German diplomat, Ernst Vom Rath. At the same time a Jewish mother and wife living in Brooklyn loses her ability to walk. I believe Arthur Miller uses the play to examine how situations, exploitation and her paralysed state to be a reflection of each other, with Sylvia Gellburg in her wheelchair representative of the paralysis felt by the Jewish community following this event. Phillip Gellburg also born into the Jewish religion would, you’d expect show compassion and sympathy to those affected. In my essay i will argue how instead Gellburg distances himself from the community as a whole revealing his Jewish heritage not to be something to honoured or respected but in fact a catalyst for his humiliation; In a similar way Sylvia is abashed by his response. It is easy to draw negative conclusions about Gellburg not only in the opening few pages but in the play as a whole not only by our response but due to the other character reactions to him. While we can draw independent conclusions about characters, our understanding through the perception of others such as Margaret Hyman describing him to be “a miserable pisser” and a “dictator” are highly persuasive.

The significance of the stage directions in scene one is invaluable upon forming our opinion of Phillip Gellburg; introduced as an “intense man” waiting in “perfect stillness, legs crossed.” This information indicates his serious persona and hints towards man of introvert character. While this may come by as a minor detail, Miller shows a desire to focus on this idea by creating a juxtaposition that is Margret Hyman – “She is fair, lusty, energetic”. Miller achieves this by using these characteristics, all of which in sharp distinction to those of Gellburg, thus he puts

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