Certain literary works possess a unique quality in which themes are intertwined with the author’s personal experiences in order to convey a message that is realistic and tangible. Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, All My Sons, reflects the struggles and sacrifices that the working class endured in trying to keep the America Dream alive. A life of prosperity and security was everyman’s dream, and Miller’s childhood was nothing but prosperous until the Great Depression struck and left his family and many people destitute. With the Great Depression serving as the imposing backdrop of his teenage years, and the Second World War that followed, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons is not only a reflection of the time, but it is a testament to the struggles individuals had to face while desperately striving for the American Dream.
Arthur Asher Miller was born on October 17, 1915 in New York City, the second of three children of Isidore Miller, a manufacturer of women's coats who had emigrated from Austria, and Augusta (Barnett) Miller. He was a playwright of several famous plays including the post World War II era play, All My Sons. Miller grew up during a time of severe economic crisis in America. The cultural and economic circumstances of his upbringing would influence his thoughts, beliefs and writing. As a result, the Great Depression became a related theme in several of Miller’s plays. In addition, he studied the psychological effects this financial crisis had on American society as well as the dilemmas encountered after the war.
There were many personal changes that occurred in Miller’s early life during the Great Depression. His father’s coat factory business in New York went bankrupt in the “Black Thursday” stock market crash in 1929. The consequence of this staggering event was a downward spiral for the Miller’s family. Eventually, they were forced to move from their six floor Central Park North apartment to an old, flimsy six room house in a Brooklyn neighborhood. This area eventually became the model for the setting of the play, All My Sons.
During his middle teen years, Miller never forgot the hopelessness that overtook his father and the tensions it produced between his parents. The loss of personal security at such a crucial point in his own development inbred Miller with a deep-rooted sensitivity to the impact of an idividual’s helplessness in the face of one’s sense of self and family relationships. “Seeing once prosperous people on the streets begging affected Miller deeply” (Rosefeldt and Shuman 1). He felt it was a tragedy of a generation of people who blamed the failure on themselves. According to Miller, he felt the Depression was the deterioration of a capitalist system of government. “The Depression was a wholesale social catastrophe that fell indiscriminately on vast sectors of American society” (Kennedy 172). The psychological effect the Depression had on a family caused a loss of respect for the bread winner as well....