The Full Wiki

Arthur Miller: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Arthur Miller

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arthur Miller

Born October 17, 1915(1915-10-17)
New York City, New York
Died February 10, 2005 (aged 89)
Roxbury, Connecticut, USA
Occupation Playwright, essayist
Nationality USA
Alma mater University of Michigan
Notable work(s) Death of a Salesman, The Crucible and A View From The Bridge
Notable award(s) Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1949),
Kennedy Center Honors (1984)
Spouse(s) Mary Slattery(1940-1956)
Marilyn Monroe (1956-1961)
Inge Morath (1962-2002)
Relative(s) Joan Copeland (sister)

Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005)[1][2] was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include awards-winning plays such as All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, and The Crucible.

Miller was often in the public eye, particularly during the late 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, a period during which he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and was married to Marilyn Monroe.




Early life

Arthur Miller was the second of three children of Isidore and Augusta Miller, Polish-Jewish immigrants.[2] His father, an illiterate but wealthy businessman, owned a women's clothing store employing 400 people. The family, including his younger sister Joan, lived on East 110th Street in Manhattan and owned a summer house in Far Rockaway, Queens. They employed a chauffeur.[3] In the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the family lost almost everything and moved to Gravesend, Brooklyn.[4] As a teenager, Miller delivered bread every morning before school to help the family make ends meet.[3] After graduating in 1932 from Abraham Lincoln High School, he worked at several menial jobs to pay for his college tuition.[4][5]

At the University of Michigan, Miller first majored in journalism and worked as a reporter and night editor for the student paper, the Michigan Daily. It was during this time that he wrote his first work, No Villain.[6] Miller switched his major to English, and subsequently won the Avery Hopwood Award for No Villain. He was mentored by Professor Kenneth Rowe, who instructed him in his early forays into playwriting.[7] Miller retained strong ties to his alma mater throughout the rest of his life, establishing the university's Arthur Miller Award in 1985 and Arthur Miller Award for Dramatic Writing in 1999, and lending his name to the Arthur Miller Theatre in 2000.[8] In 1937, Miller wrote Honors at Dawn, which also received the Avery Hopwood Award.[6]

In 1938, Miller received a BA in English. After graduation, he joined the Federal Theater Project, a New Deal agency established to provide jobs in the theater. He chose the theater project although he had an offer to work as a scriptwriter for 20th Century Fox.[6] However, Congress, worried about possible Communist infiltration, closed the project in 1939.[4] Miller began working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard while continuing to write radio plays, some of which were broadcast on CBS.[4][6]

On August 5, 1940, he married his college sweetheart, Mary Slattery, the Catholic daughter of an insurance salesman.[9] The couple had two children, Jane and Robert. Miller was exempted from military service during World War II because of a high-school football injury to his left kneecap.[4] Robert, a writer and film director, produced the 1996 movie version of The Crucible.[10]

Early career

In 1940 Miller wrote The Man Who Had All the Luck, which was produced in New Jersey in 1940 and won the Theater Guild's National Award.[11] The play closed after the four performances and disastrous reviews.[12] In his book Trinity of Passion, author Alan M. Wald conjectures that Miller was "a member of a writer's unit of the Communist Party around 1946", using the pseudonym Matt Wayne, and editing a drama column in the magazine The New Masses.[13] In 1946 Miller's play All My Sons, the writing of which had commenced in 1941, was a success on Broadway (earning him his first Tony Award, for Best Author) and his reputation as a playwright was established.[14]

In 1948 Miller built a small studio in Roxbury, Connecticut, a town that was to be his long time home. There, in less than a day, he wrote Act I of Death of a Salesman. Within six weeks, he completed the rest of the play,[6] one of the classics of world theater.[4][15] Death of a Salesman premiered on Broadway on February 10, 1949 at the Morosco Theatre, directed by Elia Kazan, and starring Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman, Mildred Dunnock as Linda, Arthur Kennedy as Biff, and Cameron Mitchell as Happy. The play was commercially successful and critically acclaimed, winning a Tony Award for Best Author, the New York Drama Circle Critics' Award, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was the first play to win all three of these major awards. The play was performed 742 times.[4]

In 1952, Kazan appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC); fearful of being blacklisted from Hollywood, Kazan named eight members of the Group Theatre, including Clifford Odets, Paula Strasberg, Lillian Hellman, Joe Bromberg, and John Garfield,[16] who in recent years had been fellow members of the Communist Party.[17] After speaking with Kazan about his testimony [18] Miller traveled to Salem, Massachusetts to research the witch trials of 1692.[9] The Crucible, an allegorical play in which Miller likened the situation with the House Un-American Activities Committee to the witch hunt in Salem,[19] opened at the Beck Theatre on Broadway on January 22, 1953. Though widely considered only somewhat successful at the time of its initial release, today The Crucible is Miller's most frequently produced work throughout the world[9] and was adapted into an opera by Robert Ward which won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1962. Miller and Kazan remained close friends throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s, but after Kazan's testimony to HUAC, the pair's friendship ended, and they did not speak to each other for the next ten years.[17] HUAC took an interest in Miller himself not long after The Crucible opened, denying him a passport to attend the play's London opening in 1954.[6] Kazan defended his own actions through his film On the Waterfront, in which a dockworker heroically testifies against a corrupt union boss.

Miller's experience with HUAC affected him throughout his life. In the late 1970s he became very interested in the highly publicized Barbara Gibbons murder case, in which Gibbons' son Peter Reilly was convicted of his mother's murder based on what many felt was a coerced confession and little other evidence. City Confidential, an A&E Network program about the murder, postulated that part of the reason Miller took such an active interest (including supporting Reilly's defense and using his own celebrity to bring attention to Reilly's plight) was because he had felt similarly persecuted in his run-in with the HUAC. He sympathized with Reilly, whom he firmly believed to be innocent and to have been railroaded by the Connecticut State Police and the Attorney General who had initially prosecuted the case.[20][21]

1956 - 1964

In 1956 a one-act version of Miller's verse drama, A View From The Bridge, opened on Broadway in a joint bill with one of Miller's lesser-known plays, A Memory of Two Mondays. The following year, Miller returned to A View from the Bridge, revising it into a two-act prose version, which Peter Brook produced in London.[citation needed]

In June 1956 Miller left his first wife Mary Slattery, and on June 29, he married Marilyn Monroe.[9] Miller and Monroe had first met in April 1951, when they had a brief affair,[9] and had remained in contact since then.[4]

When Miller applied 1956 for a routine renewal of his passport, the HUAC used this opportunity to subpoena him to appear before the committee. Before appearing, Miller asked the committee not to ask him to name names, to which the chairman agreed.[22]

When Miller attended the hearing, to which Monroe accompanied him, risking her own career,[9] he gave the committee a detailed account of his political activities (leaving out the fact that he was a party member). Reneging on the chairman's promise, the committee asked him to reveal the names of friends and colleagues who had participated in similar activities.[22] Miller refused to comply with the request, saying "I could not use the name of another person and bring trouble on him."[22] As a result a judge found Miller guilty of contempt of Congress in May 1957. Miller was fined $500, sentenced to thirty days in prison, blacklisted, and disallowed a U.S. passport.[2] In 1958 his conviction was overturned by the court of appeals, which ruled that Miller had been misled by the chairman of HUAC.[2]

After his conviction was overturned, Miller began work on The Misfits, starring his wife. Miller said that the filming was one of the lowest points in his life,[9] and shortly before the film's premiere in 1961, the pair divorced.[6] Nineteen months later, Monroe died of an apparent drug overdose.

Miller married photographer Inge Morath on February 17, 1962, and the first of their two children, Rebecca, was born that September. Their son Daniel was born with Down Syndrome in November 1966, and was consequently institutionalized and excluded from the Millers' personal life at Arthur's insistence.[23]. The couple remained together until Inge's death in 2002. Arthur Miller's son-in-law, actor Daniel Day-Lewis is said to have visited Daniel frequently, and to have persuaded Arthur Miller to reunite with his adult son [24].

Later career

In 1964 Miller's next play was produced. After the Fall is a deeply personal view of Miller's experiences during his marriage to Monroe. The play reunited Miller with his former friend Kazan: they collaborated on both the script and the direction. After the Fall opened on January 23, 1964 at the ANTA Theatre in Washington Square Park amid a flurry of publicity and outrage at putting a Monroe-like character, called Maggie, on stage.[9] That same year, Miller produced Incident at Vichy. In 1965, Miller was elected the first American president of International PEN, a position which he held for four years.[25] During this period Miller wrote the penetrating family drama, The Price, produced in 1968.[9] It was Miller's most successful play since Death of a Salesman.[26]

In 1969, Miller's works were banned in the Soviet Union after he campaigned for the freedom of dissident writers.[6] Throughout the 1970s, Miller spent much of his time experimenting with the theatre, producing one-act plays such as Fame and The Reason Why, and traveling with his wife, producing In The Country and Chinese Encounters with her. Both his 1972 comedy The Creation of the World and Other Business and its musical adaptation, Up from Paradise, were critical and commercial failures.[27][28]

In 1983, Miller traveled to the People's Republic of China to produce and direct Death of a Salesman at the People's Art Theatre in Beijing. The play was a success in China[26] and in 1984, Salesman in Beijing, a book about Miller's experiences in Beijing, was published. Around the same time, Death of a Salesman was made into a TV movie starring Dustin Hoffman as Willy Loman. Shown on CBS, it attracted 25 million viewers.[6][29] In late 1987, Miller's autobiographical work, Timebends, was published. Before it was published, it was well-known that Miller would not talk about Monroe in interviews; in Timebends Miller talks about his experiences with Monroe in detail.[9] During the early 1990s Miller wrote three new plays, The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991), The Last Yankee (1992), and Broken Glass (1994). In 1996, a film of The Crucible starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder opened. Miller spent much of 1996 working on the screenplay to the film.[6] Mr. Peters' Connections was staged off-Broadway in 1998, and Death of a Salesman was revived on Broadway in 1999 to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. The play, once again, was a large critical success, winning a Tony Award for best revival of a play.[30]

In 1993, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.[31] In 2001 the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) selected Miller for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities.[32] Miller's lecture was entitled "On Politics and the Art of Acting."[33] Miller's lecture analyzed political events (including the recent U.S. presidential election of 2000) in terms of the "arts of performance", and it drew attacks from some conservatives[34] such as Jay Nordlinger, who called it "a disgrace", [35] and George Will, who argued that Miller was not legitimately a "scholar".[36]

On May 1, 2002, Miller was awarded Spain's Principe de Asturias Prize for Literature as "the undisputed master of modern drama". Later that year, Ingeborg Morath died of lymphatic cancer[37][38] at the age of 78. The following year Miller won the Jerusalem Prize.[6]

In December 2004, the 89-year-old Miller announced that he had been in love with 34-year-old minimalist painter Agnes Barley and had been living with her at his Connecticut farm since 2002, and that they intended to marry. Within hours of her father's death, Rebecca Miller ordered Barley to vacate the premises, having consistently opposed the relationship.[citation needed] Miller's final play, Finishing the Picture, opened at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago, in the fall of 2004, with one character said to be based on Barley.[citation needed] Miller said that the work was based on the experience of filming The Misfits.[citation needed]

When interviewed by BBC4 for The Atheism Tapes, he stated that he had been an atheist since his teens.[39]

Miller died of heart failure after a battle against cancer, pneumonia and congestive heart disease at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut. He had been in hospice care at his sister's apartment in New York since his release from hospital the previous month.[40] He died on the evening of February 10, 2005 (the 56th anniversary of the Broadway debut of Death of a Salesman), aged 89, surrounded by Barley, family and friends.[41][42]


Miller's career as a writer spanned over seven decades, and at the time of his death, Miller was considered to be one of the greatest dramatists of the twentieth century.[15] After his death, many respected actors, directors, and producers paid tribute to Miller,[43] some calling him the last great practitioner of the American stage,[44] and Broadway theaters darkened their lights in a show of respect.[45] Miller's alma mater, the University of Michigan opened the Arthur Miller Theatre in March, 2007. Per his express wish, it is the only theater in the world that bears Miller's name.[46]

Christopher Bigsby wrote Arthur Miller: The Definitive Biography based on boxes of papers Miller made available to him before his death in 2005.[47] The book was published in November 2008, and is reported to reveal unpublished works in which Miller "bitterly attack[ed] the injustices of American racism long before it was taken up by the civil rights movement".[47]

Miller's papers are housed at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin.


Stage plays


  • Situation Normal (1944) is based on his experiences researching the war correspondence of Ernie Pyle.
  • In Russia (1969), the first of three books created with his photographer wife Inge Morath, offers Miller's impressions of Russia and Russian society.
  • In the Country (1977), with photographs by Morath and text by Miller, provides insight into how Miller spent his time in Roxbury, Connecticut and profiles of his various neighbors.
  • Chinese Encounters (1979) is a travel journal with photographs by Morath. It depicts the Chinese society in the state of flux which followed the end of the Cultural Revolution. Miller discusses the hardships of many writers, professors, and artists as they try to regain the sense of freedom and place they lost during Mao Zedong's regime.
  • Salesman in Beijing (1984) details Miller's experiences with the 1983 Beijing People's Theatre production of Death of a Salesman. He describes the idiosyncrasies, understandings, and insights encountered in directing a Chinese cast in a decidedly American play.
  • Timebends: A Life, Methuen London (1987) ISBN 0413414809. Like Death of a Salesman, the book follows the structure of memory itself, each passage linked to and triggered by the one before.

Radio plays

  • The Pussycat and the Plumber Who Was a Man(1941)
  • William Ireland’s Confession (1941)
  • Joel Chandler Harris (1941)
  • Captain Paul (1941)
  • The Battle of the Ovens (1942)
  • Thunder from the Mountains (1942)
  • I Was Married in Bataan (1942)
  • Toward a Farther Star (1942)
  • The Eagle’s Nest (1942)
  • The Four Freedoms (1942)
  • That They May Win (1943)
  • Listen for the Sound of Wings (1943)
  • Bernardine (1944)
  • I Love You (1944)
  • Grandpa and the Statue (1944)
  • The Philippines Never Surrendered (1944)
  • The Guardsman (1944, based on Ferenc Molnár’s play)
  • The Story of Gus (1947)
  • The Reason Why(1970)

Assorted fiction

  • Focus (novel, 1945)
  • The Misfits (short story, 1957)
  • I Don’t Need You Anymore (short stories, 1967)
  • Homely Girl (short story, 1992, published UK as Plain Girl: A Life 1995)
  • The Performance (short story)
  • Presence: Stories (short stories, 2007)



  • Kushner, Tony, ed. Arthur Miller, Collected Plays 1944-1961 (Library of America, 2006) ISBN 978-1-93108291-4.
  • Martin, Robert A. (ed.), "The theater essays of Arthur Miller", foreword by Arthur Miller. NY: Viking Press, 1978 ISBN 0140049037.
  • Steven R Centola, ed. Echoes Down the Corridor: Arthur Miller, Collected Essays 1944-2000, Viking Penguin (US)/Methuen (UK), 2000 ISBN 0413756904

Biographies and critical studies of Miller

  • Arthur Miller; 1915–1962, Christopher Bigsby (2008, Britain, 2009, U.S.)

See also


Specific references:

  1. ^ Death of a playwright: legend Arthur Miller dies aged 89, a February 11, 2005 obituary from The Guardian
  2. ^ a b c d "Arthur Miller Files". University of Michigan. Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  3. ^ a b Miller: Life before and after Marilyn
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h The Times Arthur Miller Obituary, (London: The Times, 2005)
  5. ^ Hechinger, Fred M. "ABOUT EDUCATION; Personal Touch Helps", The New York Times, January 1, 1980. Accessed September 20, 2009. "Lincoln, an ordinary, unselective New York City high school, is proud of a galaxy of prominent alumni, who include the playwright Arthur Miller, Representative Elizabeth Holtzman, the authors Joseph Heller and Ken Auletta, the producer Mel Brooks, the singer Neil Diamond and the songwriter Neil Sedaka."
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "A Brief Chronology of Arthur Miller's Life and Works". The Arthur Miller Society. Retrieved 2006-09-24. 
  7. ^ "Arthur Miller Files (UM days)". University of Michigan. Retrieved 2006-09-24. 
  8. ^ "Arthur Miller and University of Michigan". University of Michigan. Retrieved 2006-09-24. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Michael Ratcliffe, Arthur Miller Obituary, (London: The Observer, 2005).
  10. ^ "Robert A. Miller's IMDB profile". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2006-09-24. 
  11. ^ Royal National Theater: Platform Papers, 7. Arthur Miller (Battley Brothers Printers, 1995).
  12. ^ Shenton, Mark (14 March 14, 2008). "The man who HAS all the luck…..". The Stage. The Stage Newspaper Limited. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  13. ^ Wald, Alan M (2007). "7". Trinity of passion: the literary left and the antifascist crusade. NC: University of North Carolina Press. pp. 212–221. ISBN 9780807830758. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  14. ^ C. W. E. Bigsby (2005), Arthur Miller: A Critical Study, Cambridge University Press, p. 301, ISBN 9780521605533,,M1 
  15. ^ a b "Arthur Miller dies". CNN. Retrieved 2006-09-25. 
  16. ^ Mills, Michael. "Postage Paid: In defense of Elia Kazan". Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  17. ^ a b "American Masters: Elia Kazan". PBS. Retrieved 2006-09-22. 
  18. ^ "Excerpt from Timebends". Spatacus Schoolnet. Retrieved 2006-09-22. 
  19. ^ "Are you now, or were you ever?". University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 2006-09-25. 
  20. ^ "A Son's Confession DVD, Shows The First 48 , A&E Shop". Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  21. ^ "Records on Exonerated Man Are Kept Off Limits to Press - New York Times". Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  22. ^ a b c "BBC On This Day". 1958-08-07. Retrieved 2006-10-14. 
  23. ^ Suzanna Andrews (September 2007). "Arthur Miller's Missing Act". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  24. ^ Paul Scott (January 2008). "The VERY strange life of reclusive superstar Daniel Day-Lewis". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  25. ^ Miller, Arthur (2003-12-24). "A Visit With Castro". The Nation. Retrieved 2006-08-01. 
  26. ^ a b "Arthur Miller Files 60s70s80s". University of Michigan. Retrieved 2006-10-14. 
  27. ^ "Arthur Miller Returns to Genesis for First Musical". Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  28. ^ "UP FROM PARADISE - Review - Theater - New York Times". Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  29. ^ The Cambridge History of American Theatre: Post-World War II to the 1990s, page 296 (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
  30. ^ "Tony Awards 1999". Retrieved 2006-10-28. 
  31. ^ Lifetime Honors - National Medal of Arts
  32. ^ Jefferson Lecturers at NEH Website (retrieved January 22, 2009).
  33. ^ Arthur Miller, "On Politics and the Art of Acting", text of Jefferson Lecture at NEH website.
  34. ^ Bruce Craig, "Arthur Miller's Jefferson Lecture Stirs Controversy", in "Capital Commentary", OAH Newsletter [published by Organization of American Historians], May 2001.
  35. ^ Jay Nordlinger, "Back to Plessy, Easter with Fidel, Miller’s new tale, &c." National Review, April 22, 2002.
  36. ^ George Will, "Enduring Arthur Miller: Oh, the Humanities!", Jewish World Review, April 10, 2001.
  37. ^ "Essay on Inge Morath". Retrieved 2007-01-21. 
  38. ^ "NYTimes on Morath's death". Retrieved 2007-01-21. 
  39. ^ "HNN Podcast Transcript #28". BBC. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  40. ^ "Boston Globe article on Miller's death". Retrieved 2007-01-21. 
  41. ^ AP. "Playwright Arthur Miller dies at age 89 - THEATER-". Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  42. ^ Obituary in The Irish Independent (online)
  43. ^ "Tributes to Arthur Miller". 2005-02-12. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  44. ^ "Legacy of Arthur Miller". 2005-02-11. Retrieved 2007-01-21. 
  45. ^ "Broadway lights go out for Arthur Miller". 2005-02-12. Retrieved 2006-11-09. 
  46. ^ "U-M celebrates naming of Arthur Miller Theatre". University of Michigan. Retrieved 2007-11-12. 
  47. ^ a b c Dalya Alberge (2008-03-07). "Unseen writings show anti-racist passions of young Arthur Miller". London: The Times. Retrieved 2008-03-07. 

General references:

  • Bigsby, Christopher (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller, Cambridge 1997 ISBN 0521559928
  • Martin Gottfried, Arthur Miller, A Life, Da Capo Press (US)/Faber and Faber (UK), 2003 ISBN 0571219462
  • Martin, Robert A. (ed.), "The theater essays of Arthur Miller", foreword by Arthur Miller. NY: Viking Press, 1978.
  • Moss, Leonard. Arthur Miller, Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1980.

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I regard the theater as a serious business, one that makes or should make man more human, which is to say, less alone.

Arthur Asher Miller (17 October 191510 February 2005) was an American playwright, essayist, and author.



By whatever means it is accomplished, the prime business of a play is to arouse the passions of its audience so that by the route of passion may be opened up new relationships between a man and men, and between men and Man.
  • I have made more friends for American culture than the State Department. Certainly I have made fewer enemies, but that isn't very difficult.
    • After being refused a passport for his supposed disloyalty. The New York Herald Tribune (31 March 1954)
  • I know that my works are a credit to this nation and I dare say they will endure longer than the McCarran Act.
    • The New York Herald Tribune (31 March 1954)
  • The structure of a play is always the story of how the birds came home to roost.
    • Harper's (August 1958)
  • The closer a man approaches tragedy the more intense is his concentration of emotion upon the fixed point of his commitment, which is to say the closer he approaches what in life we call fanaticism.
    • Collected Plays (1958) Introduction, Section 1
  • My conception of the audience is of a public each member of which is carrying about with him what he thinks is an anxiety, or a hope, or a preoccupation which is his alone and isolates him from mankind; and in this respect at least the function of a play is to reveal him to himself so that he may touch others by virtue of the revelation of his mutuality with them. If only for this reason I regard the theater as a serious business, one that makes or should make man more human, which is to say, less alone.
    • Collected Plays (1958) Introduction, Section 2
  • By whatever means it is accomplished, the prime business of a play is to arouse the passions of its audience so that by the route of passion may be opened up new relationships between a man and men, and between men and Man. Drama is akin to the other inventions of man in that it ought to help us to know more, and not merely to spend our feelings.
    • Collected Plays (1958) Introduction, Section 7
  • I cannot write anything that I understand too well. If I know what something means to me, if I have already come to the end of it as an experience, I can't write it because it seems a twice-told tale. I have to astonish myself, and that of course is a very costly way of going about things, because you can go up a dead end and discover that it's beyond your capacity to discover some organism underneath your feeling, and you're left simply with a formless feeling which is not itself art. Its inexpressible and one must leave it until it is hardened and becomes something that has form and has some possibility of being communicated. It might take a year or two or three or four to emerge.
    • "The State of the Theatre" an interview by Henry Brandon in Harpers 221 (November 1960)
  • A play is made by sensing how the forces in life simulate ignorance — you set free the concealed irony, the deadly joke.
    • "The State of the Theatre" an interview by Henry Brandon in Harpers 221 (November 1960)
  • A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.
    • As quoted in The Observer [London] (26 November 1961)
  • The best of our theater is standing on tiptoe, striving to see over the shoulders of father and mother. The worst is exploiting and wallowing in the self-pity of adolescence and obsessive keyhole sexuality. The way out, as the poet says, is always through.
    • National Observer (20 January 1964)
  • I think now that the great thing is not so much the formulation of an answer for myself, for the theater, or the play — but rather the most accurate possible statement of the problem.
    • National Observer (20 January 1964)
The apple cannot be stuck back on the Tree of Knowledge; once we begin to see, we are doomed and challenged to seek the strength to see more, not less.
  • The job is to ask questions — it always was — and to ask them as inexorably as I can. And to face the absence of precise answers with a certain humility.
    • National Observer (20 January 1964)
  • It is always and forever the same struggle: to perceive somehow our own complicity with evil is a horror not to be borne. ... much more reassuring to see the world in terms of totally innocent victims and totally evil instigators of the monstrous violence we see all about us. At all costs, never disturb our innocence. But what is the most innocent place in any country? Is it not the insane asylum? These people drift through life truly innocent, unable to see into themselves at all. The perfection of innocence, indeed, is madness.
    • "With respect for Her Agony — but with Love" in LIFE magazine (7 February 1964)
  • The apple cannot be stuck back on the Tree of Knowledge; once we begin to see, we are doomed and challenged to seek the strength to see more, not less.
    • Commenting on After the Fall (1964) in The Saturday Evening Post (1 February 1964)
  • Certainly the most diverse, if minor, pastime of literary life is the game of Find the Author.
    • Life (7 February 1964)
  • A playwright ... is ... the litmus paper of the arts. He's got to be, because if he isn't working on the same wave length as the audience, no one would know what in hell he was talking about. He is a kind of psychic journalist, even when he's great.
    • Paris Review (Summer 1966)
  • Success, instead of giving freedom of choice, becomes a way of life. There's no country I've been to where people, when you come into a room and sit down with them, so often ask you, "What do you do?" And, being American, many's the time I've almost asked that question, then realized it's good for my soul not to know. For a while! Just to let the evening wear on and see what I think of this person without knowing what he does and how successful he is, or what a failure. We're ranking everybody every minute of the day.
    • Paris Review (Summer 1966)
  • If you complain of people being shot down in the streets, of the absence of communication or social responsibility, of the rise of everyday violence which people have become accustomed to, and the dehumanization of feelings, then the ultimate development on an organized social level is the concentration camp... The concentration camp is the final expression of human separateness and its ultimate consequence. It is organized abandonment.
    • Paris Review (Summer 1966)
  • You specialize in something until one day you find it is specializing in you.
    • The Price (1967)
  • When irrational terror takes to itself the fiat of moral goodness somebody has to die. ... No man lives who has not got a panic button, and when it is pressed by the clean white hand of moral duty, a certain murderous train is set in motion.
  • The task of the real intellectual consists of analyzing illusions in order to discover their causes.
    • As quoted in Federalism and the French Canadians (1968) by Pierre Trudeau, p. 175
  • I understand his longing for immortality … Willy's writing his name in a cake of ice on a hot day, but he wishes he were writing in stone.
  • He wants to live on through something — and in his case, his masterpiece is his son… all of us want that, and it gets more poignant as we get more anonymous in this world.
    • On Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, as quoted in The New York Times (9 May 1984)
  • The theater is so endlessly fascinating because it's so accidental. It's so much like life.
    • The New York Times (9 May 1984)
  • The number of elements that have to go into a hit would break a computer down…. the right season for that play, the right historical moment, the right tonality.
    • The New York Times (9 May 1984)
  • In the theater, while you recognized that you were looking at a house, it was a house in quotation marks ... on screen, the quotation marks tend to be blotted out by the camera. The problem was to sustain at any cost the feeling you had in the theater that you were watching a real person, yes, but an intense condensation of his experience, not simply a realistic series of episodes. It isn't easy to do in the theater, but it's twice as hard in film.
  • If I see an ending, I can work backward.
    • The New York Times (9 Feb 1986)
  • A playwright lives in an occupied country… And if you can't live that way you don't stay.
    • The New York Times (9 Feb 1986)
There's too much of an attempt, it seems to me, to think in terms of controlling man, rather than freeing him. Of defining him rather than letting him go. It's part of the whole ideology of this age, which is power-mad.
  • Well, all the plays that I was trying to write … were plays that would grab an audience by the throat and not release them, rather than presenting an emotion which you could observe and walk away from.
    • The New York Times (9 Feb 1986)
  • I figure I've done what I could do, more or less, and now I'm going back to being a chemical; all we are is a lot of talking nitrogen, you know...
    • Leo in I Can't Remember Anything in Danger: Memory! : Two Plays (1987)
  • The Crucible became by far my most frequently produced play, both abroad and at home. Its meaning is somewhat different in different places and moments. I can almost tell what the political situation in a country is when the play is suddenly a hit there — it is either a warning of tyranny on the way or a reminder of tyranny just past.
    • Timebends : A Life (1987)
  • My argument with so much as psychoanalysis is the preconception that suffering is a mistake, or a sign of weakness, or a sign even of illness, when in fact, possibly the greatest truths we know have come out of people's suffering; that the problem is not to undo suffering or to wipe it off the face of the earth but to make it inform our lives, instead of trying to cure ourselves of it constantly and avoid it, and avoid anything but that lobotomized sense of what they call "happiness." There's too much of an attempt, it seems to me, to think in terms of controlling man, rather than freeing him. Of defining him rather than letting him go. It's part of the whole ideology of this age, which is power-mad.
  • I was very moved by that play once again when the Royal Shakespeare Company did a production that toured the cathedrals of England. Then they took it to Poland and performed it in the cathedrals there, too. The actors said it changed their lives. Officials wept; they were speechless after the play, and everyone knew why. It was because they had to enforce the kind of repression the play was attacking. That made me prouder than anything I ever did in my life. The mission of the theater, after all, is to change, to raise the consciousness of people to their human possibilities.
  • If I have any justification for having lived it's simply, I'm nothing but faults, failures and so on, but I have tried to make a good pair of shoes. There's some value in that.
    • Marxism Today (January 1988)
  • Without alienation, there can be no politics.
    • Marxism Today (January 1988)
  • I'm the end of the line; absurd and appalling as it may seem, serious New York theater has died in my lifetime.
    • The Times (11 January 1989)
  • That is a very good question. I don't know the answer. But can you tell me the name of a classical Greek shoemaker?
    • His reply to a shoe manufacturer who had asked why Miller's job should be subsidized when his was not, as recounted at a London press conference. The Guardian (25 January 1990)
  • An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted.
    • As quoted in "Cold War Ghosts" by Victor Navasky in The Nation (16 July 2001)
  • I don't know a critic who penetrates the center of anything.
    • As quoted in "Arthur Miller, Moral Voice of American Stage, Dies at 89" by Marilyn Berger in The New York Times (11 February 2005)
  • Don't be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.
    • As quoted in Finding Your Bipolar Muse : How to Master Depressive Droughts and Manic Depression (2006) by Lana R. Castle, p. 258

Death of a Salesman (1949)

  • They don't need me in New York. I'm the New England man. I'm vital in New England.
    • Willy Loman
  • I simply asked him if he was making any money. Is that a criticism?
    • Willy
  • I've always made a point of not wasting my life, and every time I come back here I know that all I've done is to waste my life.
    • Biff
  • I'm very well liked in Hartford. You know, the trouble is, Linda, people don't seem to take to me.
    • Willy
  • Never fight fair with a stranger, boy. You'll never get out of the jungle that way.
    • Ben
  • I don't say he's a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He's not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person.
    • Linda
  • A small man can be just as exhausted as a great man.
    • Linda
  • Personality always wins the day.
    • Willy
  • Everybody likes a kidder, but nobody lends him money.
    • Willy
  • Sit down, Willy.
    • Charley
  • The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is that you're a salesman, and you don't know that.
    • Charley
  • You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away — a man is not a piece of fruit.
    • Willy
  • After all the highways, and the trains, and the appointments, and the years, you end up worth more dead than alive.
    • Willy
  • Work a lifetime to pay off a house — You finally own it and there's nobody to live in it.
    • Willy
  • Ben, that funeral will be massive! They'll come from Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire! All the old-timers with the strange license plates — that boy will be thunderstruck, Ben, because he never realized — I am known! Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey — I am known, Ben, and he'll see it with his eyes once and for all.
    • Willy
  • Spite, spite, is the word of your undoing!
    • Willy
  • You cut your life down for spite!
    • Willy
  • Why am I trying to become what I don't want to be? What am I doing in an office, making a contemptuous, begging fool of myself, when all I want is out there, waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am!
    • Biff
  • Isn't that — isn't that remarkable? Biff — he likes me!
    • Willy
  • Nobody dast blame this man. Willy was a salesman. And for a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don't put a bolt to a nut, he don't tell you the law or give you medicine. He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back — that's an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you're finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.
    • Charley
  • And when I saw that, I realized that selling was the greatest career a man could want. 'Cause what could be more satisfying than to be able to go, at the age of eighty-four, into twenty or thirty different cities, and pick up a phone, and be remembered and loved and helped by so many different people?
    • Willy
  • Wonderful coffee. Meal in itself
    • Willy
  • Nothing's Planted, I don't have a thing in the ground.
    • Willy

Tragedy and the Common Man (1949)

The New York Times (27 February 1949)
I think the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing — his sense of personal dignity.
  • In this age few tragedies are written. It has often been held that the lack is due to a paucity of heroes among us, or else that modern man has had the blood drawn out of his organs of belief by the skepticism of science, and the heroic attack on life cannot feed on an attitude of reserve and circumspection. For one reason or another, we are often held to be below tragedy — or tragedy above us.
  • I think the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing — his sense of personal dignity. From Orestes to Hamlet, Medea to Macbeth, the underlying struggle is that of the individual attempting to gain his "rightful" position in his society.
    Sometimes he is one who has been displaced from it, sometimes one who seeks t attain it for the first time, but the fateful wound from which the inevitable events spiral is the wound of indignity and its dominant force is indignation. Tragedy, then, is the consequence of a man's total compulsion to evaluate himself justly.
  • Only the passive, only those who accept their lot without active retaliation, are "flawless." Most of us are in that category.
    But there are among us today, as there always have been, those who act against the scheme of things that degrades them, and in the process of action everything we have accepted out of fear of insensitivity or ignorance is shaken before us and examined, and from this total onslaught by an individual against the seemingly stable cosmos surrounding us — from this total examination of the "unchangeable" environment — comes the terror and the fear that is classically associated with tragedy. More important, from this total questioning of what has previously been unquestioned, we learn.
The thrust for freedom is the quality in tragedy which exalts. The revolutionary questioning of the stable environment is what terrifies.
  • The tragic right is a condition of life, a condition in which the human personality is able to flower and realize itself. The wrong is the condition which suppresses man, perverts the flowing out of his love and creative instinct. Tragedy enlightens — and it must, in that it points the heroic finger at the enemy of man's freedom. The thrust for freedom is the quality in tragedy which exalts. The revolutionary questioning of the stable environment is what terrifies.
  • Above all else, tragedy requires the finest appreciation by the writer of cause and effect.
    No tragedy can therefore come about when its author fears to question absolutely everything, when he regards any institution, habit or custom as being either everlasting, immutable or inevitable. In the tragic view the need of man to wholly realize himself is the only fixed star, and whatever it is that hedges his nature and lowers it is ripe for attack and examination.
  • There is a misconception of tragedy with which I have been struck in review after review, and in many conversations with writers and readers alike. It is the idea that tragedy is of necessity allied to pessimism. Even the dictionary says nothing more about the word than that it means a story with a sad or unhappy ending. This impression is so firmly fixed that I almost hesitate to claim that in truth tragedy implies more optimism in its author than does comedy, and that its final result ought to be the reinforcement of the onlooker's brightest opinions of the human animal.
    For, if it is true to say that in essence the tragic hero is intent upon claiming his whole due as a personality, and if this struggle must be total and without reservation, then it automatically demonstrates the indestructible will of man to achieve his humanity.
  • The possibility of victory must be there in tragedy. Where pathos rules, where pathos is finally derived, a character has fought a battle he could not possibly have won. The pathetic is achieved when the protagonist is, by virtue of his witlessness, his insensitivity, or the very air he gives off, incapable of grappling with a much superior force.
    Pathos truly is the mode for the pessimist. But tragedy requires a nicer balance between what is possible and what is impossible. And it is curious, although edifying, that the plays we revere, century after century, are the tragedies. In them, and in them alone, lies the belief — optimistic, if you will, in the perfectibility of man.
    It is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possibly lead in our time — the heart and spirit of the average man.

The Crucible (1953)

There are wheels within wheels in this village, and fires within fires!
Act I
  • Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you know I can do it; I saw Indians smash my dear parents' heads on the pillow next to mine, and I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down!
    • Abigail Williams
  • Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I'll cut off my hand before I ever reach for you again.
    • John Proctor
  • A child's spirit is like a child, you cannot catch it by running after it; you must stand still, and, for love, it will soon itself come back.
    • Rebecca Nurse
  • We cannot look to superstition in this. The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone.
    • Reverend John Hale
  • There are wheels within wheels in this village, and fires within fires!
    • Mrs. Ann Putnam
  • I have trouble enough without I come five mile to hear him preach only hellfire and bloody damnation. Take it to heart, Mr. Parris. There are many others who stay away from church these days because you hardly ever mention God any more.
    • John Proctor
  • Hale: Here is all the invisible world, caught, defined, and calculated. In these books the Devil stands stripped of all his brute disguises. Here are all your familiar spirits — your incubi and succubi; your witches that go by land, by air, and by sea; your wizards of the night and of the day. Have no fear now — we shall find him out if he has come among us, and I mean to crush him utterly if he has shown his face!
    Rebecca: Will it hurt the child, sir?
    Hale: I cannot tell. If she is truly in the Devil's grip we may have to rip and tear to get her free.
Act II
I have seen too many frightful proofs in court — the Devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing finger points!
  • Proctor: You will not judge me more, Elizabeth. I have good reason to think before I charge fraud on Abigail, and I will think on it. Let you look to your own improvement before you go to judge your husband any more. I have forgot Abigail, and —
    Elizabeth: And I.
    Proctor: Spare me! You forget nothin' and forgive nothin.' Learn charity, woman. I have gone tiptoe in this house all seven months since she is gone. I have not moved from there to here without I think to please you, and still an everlasting funeral marches round your heart. I cannot speak but I am doubted, every moment judged for lies, as though I come into a court when I come into this house!
    Elizabeth: I do not judge you. The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you. I never thought you but a good man, John — only somewhat bewildered.
    Proctor: Oh, Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer!
  • I'll plead no more! I see now your spirit twists around the single error of my life, and I will never tear it free!
    • John Proctor
  • I like it not that Mr. Parris should lay his hand upon my baby. I see no light of God in that man. I'll not conceal it.
    • John Proctor
  • Theology, sir, is a fortress; no crack in a fortress may be accounted small.
    • John Hale
  • Though our own hearts break, we cannot flinch; these are new times, sir. There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respect and ancient friendships. I have seen too many frightful proofs in court — the Devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing finger points!
    • John Hale
  • Is the accuser always holy now? Were they born this morning as clean as God's fingers? I'll tell you what's walking Salem — vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law! This warrant's vengeance! I'll not give my wife to vengeance!
    • John Proctor
  • Now hell and heaven grapple on our backs and all our old pretense is ripped away. Aye, and God's icy wind will blow.
    • John Proctor
  • We burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment.
    • Deputy Governor Danforth
  • A person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. This is a sharp time, now, a precise time — we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world.
    • Deputy Governor Danforth
  • Hale: There is a prodigious fear of this court in the country —
    Danforth: Then there is a prodigious guilt in the country. Are you afraid to be questioned here?
    Hale: I may only fear the Lord, sir, but there is fear in the country nevertheless.
    Danforth: Reproach me not with the fear in the country; there is fear in the country because there is a moving plot to topple Christ in the country!
    Hale: But it does not follow that everyone accused is part of it.
    Danforth: No uncorrupted man may fear this court, Mr. Hale!
  • In an ordinary crime, how does one defend the accused? One calls up witnesses to prove his innocence. But witchcraft is ipso facto, on its face and by its nature, an invisible crime, is it not? Therefore, who may possibly be witness to it? The witch and the victim. None other. Now we cannot hope the witch will accuse herself; granted? Therefore, we must rely upon her victims — and they do testify, the children certainly do testify. As for the witches, none will deny that we are most eager for all their confessions. Therefore, what is left for a lawyer to bring out? I think I have made my point. Have I not?
    • Deputy Governor Danforth
  • A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For them that quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud — God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!
    • John Proctor
  • You're pulling heaven down, and raising up a whore!
    • John Proctor
Act IV
  • It is mistaken law that leads you to sacrifice. Life, woman, life is God's most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it. I beg you, woman, prevail upon your husband to confess. Let him give his lie. Quail not before God's judgment in this, for it may well be God damns a liar less than he that throws his life away for pride.
    • John Hale
  • John, I counted myself so plain, so poorly made, no honest love could come to me! Suspicion kissed you when I did; I never knew how I should say my love. It were a cold house I kept!
    • Elizabeth Proctor
  • Danforth: Do you mean to deny this confession when you are free?
    Proctor: I mean to deny nothing!
    Danforth: Then explain to me, Mr. Proctor, why you will not let —
    Proctor: [With the cry of his whole soul] Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!
  • I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from such dogs. Give them no tear! Tears pleasure them! Show honor now, show a stony heart and sink them with it!
    • John Proctor
  • Who weeps for these, weeps for corruption!
    • Deputy Governor Danforth
  • He have his goodness now, God forbid I take it from him!
    • Elizabeth Proctor

After the Fall (1964)

  • Where choice begins, Paradise ends, innocence ends, for what is Paradise but the absence of any need to choose this action?
    • Foreword
  • I am bewildered by the death of love. And my responsibility for it.
    • Quentin in After the Fall (1964) Act II
  • I saw clearly only when I saw with love. Or can one ever remember love? It's like trying to summon up the smell of roses in a cellar. You might see a rose, but never the perfume. And that's the truth of roses, isn't it? — The perfume?
    • Quentin in After the Fall (1964) Act II
  • I think it's a mistake to ever look for hope outside of one's self. One day the house smells of fresh bread, the next of smoke and blood. One day you faint because the gardener cuts his finger off, within a week you're climbing over corpses of children bombed in a subway. What hope can there be if that is so? I tried to die near the end of the war. The same dream returned each night until I dared not to go to sleep and grew quite ill. I dreamed I had a child, and even in the dream I saw it was my life, and it was an idiot, and I ran away. But it always crept onto my lap again, clutched at my clothes. Until I thought, if I could kiss it, whatever in it was my own, perhaps I could sleep. And I bent to its broken face, and it was horrible ... but I kissed it. I think one must finally take one's life in one's arms.

The Ride Down Mount Morgan (1991)

  • I love her too, but our neuroses just don't match.
    • Lyman speaking of his wife to his lawyer, Act 1
  • Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.
    • Act 1
  • Look, we're all the same; a man is a fourteen-room house — in the bedroom he's asleep with his intelligent wife, in the living-room he's rolling around with some bareass girl, in the library he's paying his taxes, in the yard he's raising tomatoes, and in the cellar he's making a bomb to blow it all up.
    • Lyman, Act 2

Quotes about Miller

  • The greatest playwright of the 20th century.
    • Vaclav Havel, as quoted in "Broadway lights go out for Miller" BBC News (11 February 2005)
  • Writing meant, for him, an effort to locate in the human species a counterforce to the randomness of victimisation.
    • Salman Rushdie, as quoted in "Broadway lights go out for Miller" BBC News (11 February 2005)

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Arthur Miller
Born October 17, 1915(1915-10-17)
New York City, New York
Died February 10, 2005 (aged 89)
Roxbury, Connecticut
Occupation Playwright, Essayist
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Mary Slattery (1940-1956)
Marilyn Monroe (1956-1961)
Inge Morath (1962-2002)

Arthur Miller (October 17, 1915February 10, 2005) was a famous American playwright, a person who writes plays. His most famous plays are All My Sons, Death of a Salesman and The Crucible. He also wrote for the movie The Misfits while he was married to Marilyn Monroe. She acted in this movie.

Early life

Arthur Miller's family was a rich family from New York. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the family lost all their money. Because Miller wanted to go to university, he had to work in a warehouse. He studied economics and history at the University of Michigan, and also learnt how to write plays. He married Mary Slattery in 1940.


In 1944, Miller had his first play in a theatre on Broadway in New York, called The Man Who Had All the Luck. Not many people liked it so this play was stopped after one week.

However, three years later, his play All My Sons became very popular. This play won the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

In 1949, he wrote Death of a Salesman, a story about the American Dream.

In 1953, he wrote The Crucible, a story about the Salem Witch Trials. He wrote this because of the McCarthyism of the 1950s, the fear that communism would take over America. A few years later, Miller was a accused of being a communist himself. He had to answer questions from the House Un-American Activities Committee, a group that Senator Joseph McCarthy made.

Personal life

In 1956, Miller divorced Mary Slattery so he could marry the actress Marilyn Monroe. During this marriage, he wrote for the movie The Misfits. Monroe acted in this movie. After five years of marriage, Monroe divorced him.

The following year, Miller married again. The photographer Inge Morath was his third wife, and they were together until she died in 2002. They had two children.

His son, Daniel, was born with Down Syndrome. Miller put him in a hospital and did not want to see him again. His daughter, Rebecca, married actor Daniel Day-Lewis, who asked Miller several times to contact his hospitalised son.

Arthur Miller died in Roxbury, Connecticut in 2005.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address