Talk - Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller, who died in February 2005, is seen as being the twentieth century’s greatest American playwright, though the thing most people remember about him is his troublesome five-year marriage with Marilyn Monroe. Miller, a Jewish New Yorker, made his name with the 1949 play Death of a Salesman which sprang him to international fame, being produced in six different continents. The play, written in a stream-of-consciousness style, examines the dangerously illusive nature of the American Dream.

Miller’s most frequently-produced work, however, which was recently made into a movie by his film-director son, is The Crucible, which he wrote in 1952. Miller wrote the play to highlight the parallels between the Salem witch trials in 1692, and the post war McCarthy-inspired Red Scare hysteria. Miller himself was blacklisted by the US government for suspected communist tendencies, and his refusal to testify to the Un-American Committee. McCarthy, who wrote his final play Finishing the Picture in 2004, also wrote the script (from his own short story) of the 1961 Hollywood cult classic, The Misfits, which turned out to be the last movie of both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, with whom he was soon to divorce. It was telling that when his death was announced last year, all but one of the British broadsheets used the news as an excuse to get a picture of Monroe on their front cover. Today’s talk is by Sussex University’s American literature specialist John Whitley. AL

Pipe dreamer: Arthur Miller was one of the 20th century’s
finest playwrights
Town Hall Corn Exchange
When? 2.30pm
How Much? tba