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Arthur Miller's Play, The Price

In his play The Price, Arthur Miller attempts to bring moral and familial issues far closer to home than he believes he had done in some of his "larger" social and political plays. He writes in his autobiography Timebends about his own vision and purpose with respect to the play and its very personal message:

Two brothers, one a policeman, the other a successful surgeon, meet again after an angry breakup many years before. . . . Grown men now, they think they have achieved the indifference to the betrayals of the past that maturity confers. But it all comes back; the old angry symbols evoke the old emotions of injustice; and they part unreconciled. Neither can accept that the world needs both of them---the dutiful man of order and the ambitious, selfish creator who invents new cures (Miller Timebends 542).

The play is a tragedy because there is something in these brothers which prevents them from a reconciliation. They are incapable of fully accepting in themselves and in one another the differences between them. The message of the play is a good and moral one, but the heart of the story (the confrontation between Victor and Walter) is told too awkwardly and undramatically to carry the impact Miller intended. There is also a wearying repetition to that confrontation which unfortunately underestimates the intelligence of the reader, as if Miller thought he had to beat the message of pride into the dull heads of his readers and audience.

For example, we hear far too many times about the money of the father. We hear over and over again about the differences between the brothers and their obvious failure to come to any compassionate or humbling understanding of one another's positions.

The most interesting parts of the play involve confrontations not between the brothers, whose positions are all too clear and who never really have a hope of reconciliation because of their mutual immaturity and intransigence, but between V...

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Arthur Miller's Play, The Price. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:52, April 13, 2024, from