Arthur Miller's Work And Reflection On Society

2284 words - 9 pages

As American began to 'grow up,' several aspects of American life also underwent change. Some of the change was sociological, such as America's evolution from an agrarian society to an urban society; some of the change was technological, such as the development of almost instantaneous communication, and the ability to broadcast news and ideas to the entire population simultaneously; some of the change was political, evidenced by American involvement in two World Wars. As these important sociological, technological, and political changes in two World Wars raced through American life, writers kept up by creating important new works of fiction and drama, all of which reflected America's changing identity. Although these writers emerged from all parts of the country, each of them offered a unique view of what was then contemporary American life. Together they created a literary movement. Arthur Miller's contribution to American Literature is agreed upon by essayists such as Stephen A. Marino, Jeffrey Helterman, Neil Carson, and Anne Crow, all of whom explore his essential works for the way he incorporates the different elements of American Modernism in his writing.
First of all, reflecting the ongoing shifts in Europe during the 20th century, the Modernist movement had permeated the United States and influenced the works of American writers. Modernism is characterized as a conscious departure from classic structures and themes and a pursuit for an indubitably new manner of interpretation. The movement had risen to crescendo during the 1880s to the 1950s, culminating from the transformative effects of both World Wars. As people around the world witnessed their respective countries being launched into chaos, they began to question and examine humanity. The embittering disillusionment of the wars had altered the perspectives of many people, awakening them to reality. To further emphasize their detachment, Modernists broke traditional conventions and social limitations that had restricted the works of authors in previous literary periods. Before the Modernist period, the drama in American literature, or rather the lack thereof, was generally moderate and idealistic, seldom disputing the representations, almost never pushing the boundaries of the institutions of the time. Breaking all inhibitions, subject matter was no longer limited to assuage a prudish society. Some of the major trailblazers of the Modernist movement were playwrights, such as Henrik Ibsen of Norway, Swedish August Strindberg, and Russia's Anton Chekhov. These playwrights had bestowed upon Americans plays about life in all its realistic glory, exhibiting characters and circumstances in the so-called "slice-of-life" dramatic method (Anderson 819). Exemplifying the Modernists' lack of restrictions, Ibsen purposefully challenged matter "such as guilt, sexuality, and mental illness--subjects that had never before been so realistically and disturbingly portrayed on stage" (Anderson...

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