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The depiction of women in arthur millers and james joyces works

Introduction by the author, following the dedication "To Marilyn". The only other course, therefore, is to stop along the way to say what I mean by the terms I use, quite certain as I do so that I will be taken to task by no small number of people, but hopeful at the same time that something useful may be said about this art, a form of writing which generates more opinions and fewer instructive critical statements than any other.

To be useful it seems impossible not to risk the obvious by returning always to the fundamental nature of theater, its historic human function, so to speak.

For it seems odd, when one thinks of it, that an art which has always been so expensive to produce and so difficult to do well should have survived in much the same general form that it possessed when it began. This is especially striking now, when almost alone among the arts the theater has managed to live despite the devouring mechanization of the age, and, in some places and instances, even to thrive and grow.

  1. A few of the inevitable materials of the art dictate to me certain aesthetic commitments which may as well be mentioned at the outset, for they move silently but nevertheless with potent influence through the plays in this book as well as in my thoughts about them. Willy says that he remembers walking away down some open road and the family moving from one place to another in a wagon, father stopping in the towns and selling the flutes that he has made on the way.
  2. But as the collapsing process becomes more self-evident, and as the selection of events becomes less and less dominated by the question of their natural maturation, the style of the play moves further and further away from realism.
  3. Three factors control the association; first, the memory, which is its basis; second the senses, which guide it; and third, the imagination which determines its elasticity Humphrey 43.
  4. It was conceived half in laughter, for the inside of his head was a mass of contradictions.
  5. But in writing of the father-son relationship and of the son's search for his relatedness there was a fullness of feeling I had never known before; a crescendo was struck with a force I could almost touch.

Under these circumstances of a very long if frequently interrupted history, one may make the assumption that the drama and its production must represent a well-defined expression of profound social needs, needs which transcend any particular form of society or any particular historic moment. It is therefore possible to speak of fundamentals of the form too when its only tools of importance never change, there being no possibility of a drama without mimicry, conflict, tale, or speech.

My approach to playwriting and the drama itself is organic; and to make this glaringly evident at once it is necessary to separate drama from what we think of today as literature. A drama ought not to be looked at first and foremost from literary perspectives merely because it uses words, verbal rhythm, and poetic image. These can be its most memorable parts, it is true, but they are not its inevitable accompaniments.

A Greek's seat was harder than an American's and even he had to call a halt to a dramatic presentation after a couple of hours. The physiological limits of attention in a seated position enforce upon this art an interconnected group of laws, in turn expressed by aesthetic criteria, which no other writing art requires.

But it is not my intention here to vivisect dramatic form or the techniques of playwriting. I only want to take advantage of this rare opportunity—a collected edition—to speak for myself as to my own aims: A few of the inevitable materials of the art dictate to me certain aesthetic commitments which may as well be mentioned at the outset, for they move silently but nevertheless with potent influence through the plays in this book as well as in my thoughts about them. These plays were written on the assumption that they would be acted before audiences.

The "actor" is the depiction of women in arthur millers and james joyces works person, and he no sooner appears than certain elementary questions are broached. What is he doing here? How does he live or make his living? Who is he related to? Is he rich or poor? What does he think of himself? What do other people think of him, and why? What are his hopes and fears; and what does he say they are? What does he claim to want and what does he really want? The actor [character - JAGL] brings questions onto the stage just as any person does when we first meet him in our ordinary lives.

Which of them a play chooses to answer, and how they are answered, are the ruling and highly consequential imperatives which create the style of the play, and control what are later called the stylistic levels of its writing. If, for instance, the actor is masked as he appears and his body movements are constricted and highly ordered, we instantly expect that the common surfaces of life will also be breached by the kinds of questions he or the play will respond to.

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He will very probably speak about the theme or essential preoccupation of the play directly and without getting to it by circuitous routes of naturalistic detail.

If he appears in the costume of his trade, class, or profession, however, we expect that he or the play will give us the answers to his common identity, and if they do not they risk our dissatisfaction and frustration. The play will either be intent upon rounding out the characters b y virtue of its complete answers to the common questions, or will substitute answers to a more limited group of questions whicvh, instead of being "human," are thematic and are designed to form a symbol of meaning rather than an apparency of the "real.

When I speak of style, therefore, this is one of the relationships I intend to convey. In this sense the tragedies of Shakespeare are species of realism, and those of Aeschylus and Sophocles are not. We know a great deal more about Macbeth and Hamlet, apart from their functions as characters in their particular given dramas, than we can ever surmise about Oedipus the king, or the heroes and heroines of Strindberg's plays.

To put it another way, when the career of a person rather than the detail of his motives stands at the forefront of the play, we move closer to non-realistic styles, and vice versa. I regard this as the one immovable and irremediable quality which goes to create one style or another. And there is always an organic connection rather than a temperamental choice involved in the style in which a play is written and must be performed. The first two plays in this book were written and performed with the intention of answering as many of the common questions as was possible.

Another decisive influence upon style is the conception and manipulation of time in a play. Broadly speaking, where it is conceived and used so as to convey a natural passage of hours, days, or months, the style it enforces is pressed toward realism. Where action is quite opeanly freed so that things mature in a moment, for instance, which would take a year in life, a true license for non-realistic styles is thereby won.

As is obvious, the destruction of temporal necessity occurs in every play if only to a rudimentary degree; it is impossible that in life people should behave and speak in reference to a single thematic point for so continuous a time. Events, therefore, are always collapsed and drawn together in any drama. But as the collapsing process becomes more self-evident, and as the selection of events becomes less the depiction of women in arthur millers and james joyces works less dominated by the question of their natural maturation, the style of the play moves further and further away from realism.

All My Sons attempts to account for time in terms of months, days, and hours. Death of a Salesman explodes the watch and the calendar. The Crucible is bound by natural time—or strives to appear so. The compacting of time destroys the realistic style not only because it violates our sense of reality, but because collapsing time inevitably emphasizes an element of existence which in life is not visible or ordinarily felt with equivalent power, and this is its symbolic meaning.

When a criminal is arraigned, for instance, it is the prosecutor's job to symbolize his behaviour to the jury so that the man's entire life can be characterized in one way and not in another. The prosecutor does not mention the accused as a dog lover, a good husband and father, a sufferer from eczema, or a man with the habit of chewing tobacco on the left and not the right side of his mouth.

Nor does he strive to account for the long intervals of time when the accused was behaving in a way quite contrary to that symbolic characterization. The prosecutor is collapsing time—and destroying realism, by fastening only on those actions germane to the construction of his symbol.

To one degree or another every play must do this or we should have to sit in a theater for years in order to appreciate a character and his story. But where the play does pretend to give us details of hours, months, and years which are not clearly and avowedly germane to the symbolic meaning, we come closer and closer to what is called a realistic style.

  • The Spanish press, thoroughly controlled by Catholic orthodoxy, regarded the play as commendable proof of the spirit's death where there is no God;
  • The one exception among these plays is A Memory of Two Mondays—as will be seen later.

In passing, I should say that the Greek "unity" of time imposed on the drama was not arbitrary but a concomitant of the preponderant Greek interest in the fate and career of the hero rather than his private characteristics, or, to put it another way, his social and symbolic side rather than his family role.

Another material, so to speak, of drama is not describable in a word, and has a less direct influence on style. I mention it, however, because it is probably the most powerful influence on my way of writing and enforces on me a kind of taste and approach to the art which marks these plays.

It is necessary, if one is to reflect reality, not only to depict why a man does what he does, or why he nearly didn't do it, but why he cannot simply walk away and say to hell with it.

To ask this last qustion of a play is a cruel thing, for evasion is probably the most developed technique most men have, and in truth there is an extraordinarily small number of conflicts which we must, at any cost, live out to their conclusions.

To ask this question is immediately to impose on oneself not, perhaps, a style of writing but at least a kind of dramatic construction. For I understand the symbolic meaning of a character and his career to consist of the kind of commitment he makes to life or refuses to make, the kind of challenge he accepts and the kind he can pass by.

I take it that if one could know enough about a human being one could discover some conflict, some value, some challenge, however minor or major, which he cannot find in itself to walk away from or turn his back on.

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The structure of these plays, in this respect, is to the end that such a conflict be discovered and clarified. Idea, in these plays, is the generalized meaning of that discovery applied to men other than the hero. Time, characterizations, and other elements are treated differently from play to play, but all to the end that that moment of commitment be brought forth, that moment when, in my eyes, a man differentiates himself from every other man, that moment when out of a sky full of stars he fixes on one star.

I take it, as well, that the less capable a man is of walking away from the central conflict of the play, the closer he approaches a tragic existence. In turn, this implies that 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. From this flows the necessity for scenes of high and open emotion, and plays constructed toward climax rather than evocation of a mood alone or of bizarre spectacle.

The one exception among these plays is A Memory of Two Mondays—as will be seen later. From such considerations it ought to be clear that the common tokens of realism and non-realism are in themselves not acceptable as criteria.

That a play is written prosaically does not make it a realistic play, and that the speech is heightened and intensified by imagery does not set it to one side of realism necessarily.

  • A Greek's seat was harder than an American's and even he had to call a halt to a dramatic presentation after a couple of hours;
  • We know a great deal more about Macbeth and Hamlet, apart from their functions as characters in their particular given dramas, than we can ever surmise about Oedipus the king, or the heroes and heroines of Strindberg's plays;
  • To be sure, he had been able to know that he was as much the victim of his beliefs as their defeated exemplar, had he known how much of guilt he ougth to bear and how much to shed from his soul, he would be more conscious;
  • Who is he related to?
  • A muffled debate arose with the success of Death of a Salesman in which attempts were made to justify or dismiss the play as a Left-Wing piece, or as a Right-Wing manifestation of decadence;
  • More important to me is the fact that this particular kind of argument obscures much more relevant considerations.

The underlying poem of the play I take to be the organic necessity of its parts. I find the arbitrary not poetry but indulgence.

The novel is another matter entirely. A very great play can be mimed and still issue forth its essential actions and their rudiments of symbolic meaning; the word, in drama, is the transformation into speech of what is happening, and the fiat for intense language is intensity of happening.

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We have had more than one extraordinary dramatist who was a cripple as a writer, and this is lamentable but not ruinous. Which is to say that I prize the poetic above else in the theater, and because I do I insiste that the poem truly be there. II The assumption—or presumption—behind these plays is that life has meaning.

I would add now, as their momentary commentator, that what they meant to me at the time of writing is not in each instance the same as what they mean to me now in the light of further experience. Plato, by banning artists from citizanship in his ideal republic, expressed at least a partial truth; the intention behind a work and its effects upon the public are not always the same.

Worse yet, in his conscious intention the artist often conceals from himself an aim which can be quite opposed to his fondest beliefs and ideas. Those more tempted by an evil, for instance, are more likely to feel deeply about it than those who have only known the good.

From this, two ironic propositions logically flow. The first is that a play's 'idea' may be useful as a unifying force empowering the artist to evoke a cogent emotional life on the stage, but that in itself it has no aesthetic value, since, after all, it is only a means to an end. The second is that since every play means something—even the play which denies all meaning to existence—the "idea" of a play is its measure of value and importance and beauty, and that a play which appears merely to exist to one side of "ideas" is an aesthetic nullity.

  1. Aristotle having spoken of a fall from the heights, it goes without saying that someone of the common mold cannot be a fit tragic hero. The image of a suicide so mixed in motive as to be unfathomable and yet demanding statement.
  2. And it is in this sense that loneliness is socially meaningful in these plays. A very great play can be mimed and still issue forth its essential actions and their rudiments of symbolic meaning; the word, in drama, is the transformation into speech of what is happening, and the fiat for intense language is intensity of happening.
  3. The play's eye was to revolve from within Willy's head, sweeping endlessly in all directions like a light on the sea, and nothing that fromed in the distant mist was to be left uninvestigated. I was the water; she was the rock.
  4. It occurred to me that I must write this play so that even the actual criminal, on reading it, would have to say that it was true and sensible and as real as his life. Such would not be the career arc of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller.
  5. This time, if I could, I would have told the whole story and set forth all the characters in one unbroken speech or even one sentence or a single flash of light.

Idea is very important to me as a dramatist, but I think it is time someone said that playwrights, including the greatest, have not been noted for the new ideas they have broached in their plays. Buy new I mean an original idea invented by the playwright, quite as such things are created, if infrequently, by scientists, and occasionally by philosophers.

Surely there is no known philosophy which was first announced through a play, nor any ethical idea. No social concept in Shaw's plays could have been much of a surprise to the Webbs and thousands of other Socialists of the time; nor can Ibsen, Chekhov, Strindberg, or O'Neill be credited with inventing any new thoughts. As a matter of fact, it is highly unlikely that a new idea could be successfully launched through a play at all, and this for several good reasons.

A genuine the depiction of women in arthur millers and james joyces works in the realm of ideas must first emerge as an abstruse and even partial concept. Be it Christianity, Darwinism, Marxism, or any other that can with reason be called original it has always been the product of proofs which, before they go to form a complete and new concept, require years and often generations of testing, research, and polemic.

At first blush a new idea appears to be very close to insanity because to be new it must reverse important basic beliefs and assumptions which, in turn, have been institutionalized and are administered by one or another kind of priesthood with a vested interest in the old idea.

Nor would the old idea be an idea at all, strictly speaking, if some goodly section of the population did not believe in it. If only because no dramatic structure can bear the brunt of the incredulity with which any really new idea is greeted, the play from would collapse under the burdens of having to deliver up the mountain of proof required for a new idea to be believed. And this would be true even if the audience were all philosophers—perhaps even truer, for the philosopher requires proofs even more exact than the layman does.

The dramatic form is a dynamic thing. It is not possible to dally in it for reflection. The polemical method, as well as the scientific exposition, the parable, or the ethical teaching, all depend upon a process which, in effect, says, "What you believe is wrong for these reasons; what the truth is is as follows.