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With The Death of a Salesman during the winter of 1949 on Broadway, Arthur Miller began to live as a playwright who has since been called one of this century's three great American dramatists by the people of America. The dramatist was born in Manhattan in October 17, 1915, to Isadore and Agusta Miller, a conventional, well to do Jewish couple. Young Arthur Miller was an intense athlete and a weak scholar. Throughout his youth he was molded into one of the most creative playwrights America has ever seen, without these priceless childhood experiences there would have never have been the basis and foundation for his great works.
During his bright career as playwright he demonstrated extreme talent on two of his greatest pieces The Crucible and the Death of a Salesman. He has also written other powerful, often mind-altering plays: A View from the Bridge, A Memory of Two Mondays, After the Fall, Incident at Vichy, and The Price. Who could forget the film The Misfits and the dramatic special Playing for Time. Death of a Salesman was not Arthur Miller's first success on Broadway. His first plays were Honors at Dawn (1936) and No Villain (1937) which won the University of Michigan Hopwood Awards. His Death of a Salesman won the Pulitzer prize in 1949, which was another proof of his excellent talent.
Miller wrote The Crucible in 1953 during the McCarthy period when Americans were accusing each other of Pro-Communist beliefs. Many of Miller's friends were being attacked as Communists and in 1956, Miller himself was brought before the House of Un-American Activities Committee where he was found guilty of beliefs in Communism. The verdict was reversed in 1957 in an appeals court.
The Crucible is set against the backdrop of the mad witch-hunts of the Salem witch trials in the late 17th century. It is about a town, after accusations from a few girls, which begins a mad hunt for witches that did not exist. Many townspeople were hanged on charges of witchcraft. Miller brings out the absurdity of the incident with the theme of truth and righteousness. Two years before, when All My Sons opened at the Coronet Theater, people were starting to notice that they were in the mist of one of the greatest playwrights in history. The play also won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and the Donaldson Award (voted upon by Billboard subscribers). Since the debut of All My Sons he noted that he felt as though there was a opening for him to write and be appreciated. That door had always been securely been shut in the past. With the flow of the audience there seemed to be warmth that allowed him to dream and be willing to take that risk in his writing that made him become so famous. He did, however, push the limits when he released his controversial piece Death of a Salesman. And, he gained even more acclaim. Soon he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. He was quickly catapulted into the realm of the great, living, American playwrights; and once was compared to Ibsen and the Greek tragedians.
After his graduation from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, young Miller worked as a stock clerk in an automobile parts warehouse for two and a half years until he had enough money to pay for his first year at the University of Michigan. He finished college with the financial aid of the National Youth Administration supplemented by his salary as night editor on the Michigan Daily newspaper. Before his graduation with a BA degree in 1938, he had written a number of plays, winning a $500 Avery Hopwood Award in 1936 and a $1,200 Theater Guild National Award in 1938 for an effort entitled The Grass Still Grows.
Then, having returned to New York in 1938, he joined the Federal Theater Project. But, before his first play had been produced, the Project ended. Dismayed and setback, he went to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Here he wrote radio scripts that were later heard in the Columbia Workshop and on the Calvacade of America. He also wrote two books during this period: Situation Normal (1944) and Focus, two novels about anti-Semitism (1945). He had not, however, given up playwriting. In November of 1944, his play, The Man Who Had All the Luck opened on Broadway. Unfortunately it became much less of a success than he had hoped. Its unfavorable reception disheartened Miller, and he decided he would write one more play. If that were not successful, he would give up.
In 1947 he wrote All My Sons, his first real success, which established him as a significant American playwright. Soon after he wrote The Crucible in 1953, which became a Broadway hit, and won a Tony Award. This thrilling retelling of the witch trials and hangings in Salem, Massachusetts (1962) riveted audiences. But it reflected a more ready
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