Cover image for Student companion to Arthur Miller
Student companion to Arthur Miller
Abbotson, Susan C. W., 1961-
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xii, 169 pages ; 25 cm.
Reading Level:
1340 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3525.I5156 Z5116 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS3525.I5156 Z5116 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This critical introduction to Arthur Miller provides an indispensable aid for students and general readers to understand the depth and complexity of some of America's most important dramatic works. Beginning with a discussion of his life, this work traces not only Miller's theatrical career, but his formulative experiences with the Great Depression, the Holocaust, and the House Un-American Activities Committee. Detailed discussions of eight important plays are organized around the social and moral themes Miller derived from such events; these themes are evident in such works as Death of A Salesman, The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, and All My Sons. By placing Miller, within the context of his times, this discussion reveals how he was influenced by and reacted to the major events in his own life and in American culture. Analysis of his more recent works such as The American Clock, Broken Glass and The Ride Down Mt. Morgan illustrate the consistency of Miller's strong moral vision, and his continuing innovative contributions to American theatre.

A fascinating biographical chapter takes readers from Miller's childhood, through the Depression years, through three marriages; and from his theatrical apprenticeship, to eventual fame and critical acclaim for his plays and other literary and cinematic projects. The literary heritage chapter outlines Miller's literary and dramatic precursors, and considers the major aspects of his dramatic impact. The six chapters discussing his major plays are systematically presented to allow the reader to easily grasp the intricacies of their plots, characterizations, stylistic devices, and themes. In addition, each chapter offers a view of the social and/or historical context that influenced the plays' thematic development, as well as an alternate critical reading that demonstrates the richness of Miller's work. Lastly, the bibliography provides information on Miller's published works, including his screenplays and essays, biographical information, selected general criticism, and both contemporary reviews and critical studies of the plays discussed.

Author Notes

SUSAN C. W. ABBOTSON has taught English for over fifteen years, both at the high school and university levels. She currently teaches at the English Department of Rhode Island College. She is coauthor of Understanding Death of a Salesman (Greenwood 1999). She is also author of the Drama section in Resources for Teaching: Literature and Its Writers (1997) as well as numerous articles on Literature and Drama.

Reviews 1

School Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up-This well-organized and well-written volume provides useful, reliable information. Abbotson describes Miller's youth, particularly the impact of the Great Depression on his family; his educational background; early success as a playwright; the effect of the House Un-American Activities Committee on his career; and a wealth of personal facts, including his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. The biographical section is followed by a detailed and unbiased discussion of eight of Miller's major plays that incorporates the impact of other literature and historical events on his work and links themes, language, and characters to events and periods in the writer's life. Chapters on each play address the development of setting and plot, characters, and point of view; provide a historical context; and touch on other relevant literary devices. A bibliography of Miller's plays and other works, as well as extensive listings of critical studies, reviews, and criticisms complete the text. Students will find this comprehensive resource satisfying and thought-provoking.-Susan Shaver, Hemingford Public Schools, NE (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Series Forewordp. ix
Prefacep. xi
1 The Life of Arthur Millerp. 1
2 Literary Heritagep. 19
3 Tragedy: Death of a Salesman (1949)p. 35
4 The Family: All My Sons (1947) and A View from the Bridge (1956)p. 55
5 The Depression: The American Clock (1980)p. 77
6 The Holocaust: After the Fall (1964) and Broken Glass (1994)p. 93
7 House Un-American Activities Committee: The Crucible (1953)p. 117
8 Continuing Concerns: The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991)p. 137
Bibliographyp. 151
Indexp. 163