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Miller: All My Sons

2. Introduction – Capitalism, Greed and Guilt

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we introduce some of the key themes of the play before we start reading it in more detail (see subsequent modules). In particular, we think about: (i) the symbolism of the tree in the Kellers' back yard; (ii) the idea of 'hamartia' (tragic flaw/mistake) and the question of what Joe Keller's tragic flaw is/was; (iii) the extent to which the Keller family – and Joe, in particular – represent the guilt of (in George's words) "every man who made money in the war"; and (iv) the contrast between the Kellers' appearance as a happy family and the reality of their corruption, denial and guilt.

Course

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.

Lecturer

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

APA style

McRae, J. (2022, January 12). Miller: All My Sons - Introduction – Capitalism, Greed and Guilt [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/miller-all-my-sons/introduction-capitalism-greed-and-guilt

MLA style

McRae, John. "Miller: All My Sons – Introduction – Capitalism, Greed and Guilt." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 12 Jan 2022, https://massolit.io/courses/miller-all-my-sons/introduction-capitalism-greed-and-guilt

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