Arthur Miller was born in 1915 in New York. He was fourteen when his fathers manufacturing business was hit by the Depression. His father was left a ruined man, reminiscing about past triumphs much like Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. Miller worked in a warehouse on graduation from school and financed his own way through the University of Michigan, where he began to write plays. Before becoming a full-time playwright, he worked on a ranch (like Biff in Death of a Salesman) and as a loader in New York docks. As a result of this everyday contact with the working classes, Miller gained a great love and respect for the simple American man. This love is evidenced in all his greatest work - Death of a Salesman, All My Sons and A View from the Bridge all deal with the relationship between the common man and the unseen economic and social forces which make life a struggle for him.
Miller was reputed to be a Communist, and was investigated by the House
Un-American Activities Committee in 1956. Despite rigorous questioning, Miller refused to reveal which of his peers attended a meeting of Communist writers ten years before. He was charged with contempt of court, but won an appeal against the charge. The Crucible (1953), Millers other great work, deals with the Salem witch hunt of the seventeenth century, and the audience is invited to draw a comparison between the hysterical fingerpointing in the play and life in McCarthyite America.
Miller was married for a short while to Marilyn Monroe, and wrote a screenplay for her, The Misfits. For a better understanding of Millers social world-view, his essay "Tragedy and the Common Man" outlines the particular place which the common man has in the world of tragic literature.
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