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Understanding Arthur Miller's "All My Sons"

1202 words - 5 pages

In Arthur Miller's drama, All My Sons, the characters of Jim Bayliss, Frank Lubey, Chris Keller and George Deever, all have difficulty in accepting the realities of life, and the possibilities of the future. Though all different in nature, they all willing to settle instead of striving for what they want. Unfortunately, they don't realize that they are settling, instead believing that they are living according to their principles.The easiest character to understand is Frank Lubey, due mostly to his limited role. Frank is a haberdasher and astrologer and as a haberdasher, he considers himself a success, not in the sense of his occupation, but that he provides for the needs of his family. When Ann asks him if he's still a haberdasher, he answers with a defensive "Why not?" as if to ask her whether or not she thinks there is something wrong with him being one. He quickly adds, "Maybe I too can get to be president," pointing out that President Harry Truman was once a haberdasher, an attempt to put himself on the same level with the President. If it was good enough for Truman it should be good enough for anyone.His interest in astrology allows him to believe that he has a deeper understanding of life, reassuring himself that he is what he is supposed to be and not anything less. If fates determine events, than to strive to be more is fruitless. When Keller and Jim discuss the merits of different occupations, Frank is fast to defend them all as "an honorable profession." If all professions are honorable, that so is his. He provides for Lydia, and he is determined to convince himself that he is okay with it.The others think they believe that a man makes of his life what he wants, and Frank's "understanding of the stars" is nothing more than a waste of time.Jim Bayliss, on the other hand, is anything but satisfied, even though he has achieved what the others consider prominence by becoming a doctor. Though others in the community come to him for help when they are ill, he dismisses them as hypochondriacs, wasting his time. The basic task of caring for the sick is beneath what he feels he should be doing, and his abilities. He dreams of going into medical research, of finding ways not to treat just his patients, but to aid society. Unfortunately, he feels trap in the role of providing not just a good life, but a very comfortable one for his family. In Jim's life, money is the thing by which you judge success, and his wife demands success. He feels trap by the demands placed on him by Sue. He knows that for her, his happiness or feelings of personal achievement are not as important as the status he brings to her life. When he says that his son will be a doctor, "over my dead body," he is not thinking about what being a doctor means to a community, but rather what being a doctor means to his life, money and unfulfilled dreams.When Frank mentions a movie about a doctor who discovers things, and how that doctor reminded him of Jim, he is showing his...

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