Top 6 'All My Sons' Essay Topics
In 1947 Arthur Miller was a struggling playwright whose first attempt had crashed disastrously on Broadway. In an attempt to improve on this he wrote a second play, All My Sons, which was a great success and established his reputation. The play remains popular today and has been filmed twice. Because of this popularity and the many issues it raises it commonly comes up as the basis for an essay. If you have to write an essay on the play, here are some suggested topics to get you started.
The play explores obligations in a number of ways. Many of the characters see a conflict between what they should do in the best interests of different groups. Joe Keller knowingly ships defective aircraft engine parts, ultimately causing the deaths of 21 USAAF pilots, because he sees the obligation to make money for his family as more important than the war effort.
There are few characters in the play who can't blame someone else for something and they aren't shy about doing so. What they're not so willing to do is to accept any blame themselves. Joe Keller for example, blames his jailed business partner for the defective parts even though he was deeply involved himself.
Business and Society
Miller's politics were generally leftish and he was an opponent of unrestricted capitalism. All My Sons portrays businessmen, in the shape of Joe, as people who put their own interests above those of society.
Joe's son Chris is perceived by the others as an idealist. In fact he doesn't show this characteristic very often, with the exception of reacting angrily to his father's profiteering. Joe Keller himself seems to perceive his lost ideals at the end; confronted with the reality of what he has done, he shoots himself.
Most of the characters are deceiving themselves at least to some extent. Joe's wife Kate refuses to believe that her other son Larry, who has been reported as Missing In Action, is dead.
The American Dream
In the play Miller criticizes the idea that success in America is defined purely in economic terms. Joe Keller is a successful businessman, but he has achieved this at the cost of many of the ideals that Miller sees as being truly American - human decency and mutual support, among others. Ironically for a man who was persecuted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Miller also seems to be advocating patriotism; by shipping defective parts Keller was placing his own interests above those of America.
All My Sons is obviously a very complex play and can be approached from a number of angles. Whatever one you choose, it's possible to write an engaging and high quality essay on it.
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In the story All My Sons by Arthur Miller, there are many symbols that influence the characters’ actions and other events. Symbols such as the tree in the yard and the date November 25th represent the remembrance of Larry Keller. The downed tree also hints to the letter at the end of the story. Other symbols stand for past events in the characters’ lives and give the reader a view into the important father-son relationship between Joe and Chris Keller.
One of the major symbols in the play was the tree in the yard. The tree was important to the Kellers because it was planted on the day that their son, Larry, disappeared. The importance can be seen when the tree was knocked over. The Kellers and their neighbors saw the fallen tree and remembered Larry. Also, the fallen tree hints to the revelation of Larry’s suicide letter. Another symbol that pertained to Larry was the date November 25th. After Larry went missing, the family started to work on a horoscope for Larry in order to determine if it was his favorable day. This was important to Kate Keller because she believed that her son could not possibly have died on his favorable day. Chris Keller wanting to marry Ann also represents the idea of Larry. Certain people in the family tried to persuade Chris not to marry Ann because Larry had been engaged to Ann. Also, Joe told Chris not to marry Ann because his mother would be greatly upset because she saw Chris’s marrying Ann as the recognition that Larry had actually died.
Another symbol that was significant is the title, “All My Sons.” This saying was viewed differently through the eyes of Joe and Chris Keller. Chris viewed all of the other soldiers as his brothers, making them all (the Kellers and the soldiers) a large family. This view is different from the view of his father, Joe, who only recognizes his offspring .as his “sons.” A perfect example of Joe’s view influencing his actions is Joe telling Steve to send out the cracked heads. Joe’s narrow-mindedness did not allow him to realize that men would actually die from using the bad heads. Joe’s view can also be seen when he validates his actions by saying that he had done it for his family. Chris took offense to his father’s comments because Chris saw all the soldiers as his brothers.
In the story, All My Sons, symbols play an important role and influence some characters’ actions. Th tree, “November 25th”, and Chris’s marrying Ann all have to do with Larry Keller, and the title shows the differences between Joe and Chris Keller. It also shows the reader a good view of the strange relationship between Chris and his father.
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