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Arthur Miller Introduction

What Arthur Miller did... and why you should care

By the time the American playwright Arthur Miller died in 2005 at the age of 89, he had written more than two dozen plays over the course of a career that lasted almost 70 years. Though he is best remembered for standouts such as Death of a Salesman, All My Sons, and The Crucible, every play Miller wrote was created with the same goal—to make the world a better place, even if it meant, he once said, "grabbing people and shaking them by the back of the neck."1 Arthur Miller was one of the most political of American playwrights, tackling issues ranging from McCarthyism to Reaganism to the failure of the American Dream in a way that helped audiences understand the issue by showing them a piece of themselves.

Miller was a relentless critic of America, in part because he believed so passionately in its promise. His own life was a version of the American Dream writ large—the son of hard-working immigrants who rose to prominence based on his own talent, he married another American icon (Marilyn Monroe) before fighting off McCarthyism with the strength of his own principles. He changed American theater, but he also changed America.

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