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Essay/Term paper: All my sons: miller's chief criticism of american society

Essay, term paper, research paper:  American History

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All My Sons: Miller's Chief Criticism Of American Society

By: Richard Younge

A shot was heard throughout the Keller home as Joe ended his guilty,
worthless life. Miller criticizes that American society has become corrupt- a
place of selfishness, where people care too much about themselves, and that
which benefits them, and will go to any lengths to achieve that goal; even if
the repercussions of their actions will bring harm to other people. He stresses
that money seems to be the key factor that drives society to this level of

Miller emphasizes this point in several ways. The first example is that
Keller knowingly ships out cracked cylinder heads, that will crash an airplane
if used, to prevent his business from going bankrupt, claiming that he did it
for his family. The second example is that Sue would rather Jim make allot of
money, and not do medical research- which is what he really wanted to do. The
third example is Jim's abdication of his pursuit of medical research do to the
lack of profit involved.

In his play "All My Sons," Miller makes it apparent that society in
general values money and profit more than human life. He shows this by his
portrayal of Keller. Keller ships out cracked cylinder heads, aware that in
flight they will cause planes to crash, to save his business from being shut
down. Furthermore, he goes on to allow the blame to fall on Steve, in order to
save himself from going to jail, even though Steve was not the only one guilty.
Keller tries to rationalize his actions by saying that he committed this heinous
act for the benefit of his family- so that they will have money and everything
else they need and can live happily. "Chris... Chris I did it for you. It was a
chance and I took it for you." This portrays the human characteristic of
creating a false sense of innocence in spite of ones guilty actions- and

Honesty only comes out of ones guilty conscience when it benefits them.
Sue would rather have Jim make money than do what he wants to do- medical
research. Apparently she values profit over allowing an individual to do what he
wants to do- what he enjoys doing. "Research pays twenty-five dollars a week
minus laundering the hair shirt. You've got to give up your life to go into it."
Sue is willing to deny Jim his real desire, in order to make more profit.

Miller stresses that society has become so corrupt, that people would
rather do something they do not enjoy doing, just for the profit. Due to
greediness, money has made people give up their dreams and goals in search of
more profit. What Jim really wants to do with his life is research medicine, but
remains a doctor only for the profit involved. Sue's greediness seems to have
rubbed off on him, and he gives up research for more money. "I would love to
help humanity on a Warner Brothers salary." By saying this, Jim shows that
profit means more to him than pursuing his dreams and "helping humanity."

Miller makes it clear that money, dishonesty, and selfishness take
precedence over friendship and human life in our corrupt society. The
selfishness that influences one mans relationship to another has destroyed the
truth and honesty that used to preside over American society. He suggests that
all these factors put together are quickly destroying the basic human values of
goodwill and honesty. Evil is prevailing over good, and if society continues
down the same path it is on now- a catastrophic collision course with humanity-
evil will eventually succeed in destroying honesty and righteousness. Maybe the
world would be a much better place to live in if only people considered the
needs of others, besides their own needs.


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