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15. Act 3 – "To him they were all my sons" (pp. 78-84)
About this Lecture
In this module, we read Act 3 from the moment that Ann enters to the end of the play, focusing in particular on: (i) Ann's letter from Larry, which reveals how he really died; (ii) the extent to which Chris acts as Miller's mouthpiece here in criticising contemporary American society; (iii) Keller's continued refusal to acknowledge his guilty ("Then why am I bad?"); (iv) Keller's comment that "a man can't be Jesus in this world"; (v) the idea of Larry as a scapegoat for the evils committed by his father (and people like his father); (vi) Keller's death, and its resemblance to the endings of several plays by Ibsen; (vii) the extent to which Keller's death resolves any of the issues raised in the play.
In this fifteen-part course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Arthur Miller's All My Sons. In the first two modules, we think about the historical, cultural and literary context for the play, as well as exploring the themes of capitalism, greed and guilt. In the thirteen modules that follow, we go through the play page-by-page, providing close reading and detailed analysis, with commentary on character, plot, themes, motifs, language and symbolism – as well as certain issues to think about when staging the play, e.g. haptics, proxemics.
Note: Page numbers are based on the Penguin Modern Classics version of the play (2000, ed. Christopher Bigsby). Students using a different version of the play may encounter slight differences in both text and page numbers.
John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.
Cite this Lecture
McRae, J. (2022, January 12). Miller: All My Sons - Act 3 – "To him they were all my sons" (pp. 78-84) [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/miller-all-my-sons/act-3-to-him-they-were-all-my-sons-pp-78-84
McRae, John. "Miller: All My Sons – Act 3 – "To him they were all my sons" (pp. 78-84)." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 12 Jan 2022, https://massolit.io/courses/miller-all-my-sons/act-3-to-him-they-were-all-my-sons-pp-78-84