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  • 8:07:30 pm
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  • 24 June 2024

Arthur Miller Remembered

After 89 years, Arthur Miller dies, leaving us to celebrate the life, times and achievements of an American genius.

I remember it was 1998. I was a Junior at Fairfield College Preparatory School in Fairfield CT. A young buck, I had dreams and aspirations like any other kid my age; adolescent, puerile, even some delinquent. But still, I shared with the rest of my brethren in America an idea of a future and a belief that, truly, if I held tight to my dreams and believed in those dreams, they would one day become a reality.

And then I met Willy Loman.

Willy Loman tried. Willy Loman tried so hard. He wanted so badly to believe he was something, that he was someone. He needed for his children to see a man who had accomplished something real with his long life, for them to see a man whose hard work as a dedicated salesman had paid off as he reached old age. But, as outside observers, we saw the truth: Willy was a disillusioned salesman, tired and weary, grown up and grown old on delusions of grandeur. He dreamed of owning a business, of making riches, of being known and, most importantly, having a grand funeral procession so long, the eye could barely see its end. Each day, Willy would put on a smile for the world, reciting a line from the American Dream. And in the end, it killed him, left him with an empty heart, a paltry funeral and a lackluster legacy.

Such a painstaking truth about the American dream can really knock the wind out of a man, strong and steady. For your average, experienced adult, such a genuine expression of hopeless might bring forth a bit of emotional distress. But it is the power of that play, the ability of this playwright to tear at the very soul of a 16 year-old boy that is both solemn and remarkable. It is true; I can remember those pangs of failure, anger, alienation and distrust so vividly. Miller was able to take me, a mere high school student, deep into the recesses of my own mind, baiting me to ask of myself the inevitable question, “What have you done with your life?” Thinking back on how much that piece affected me, and at such a young age, only one word comes to mind: “Amazing.”

This says a lot about a writer. My story, my paralyzing experience reading “Death of A Salesman” is a testament to Arthur Miller’s genius and craftsmanship and it is today that we must say goodbye to this great mind, this great writer. After 89 years, Miller leaves us with a catalogue of brilliance and a legacy much greater than that of his own creation, Willy Loman.

Arthur Miller’s brilliance extends far beyond just one play. He began writing in the 1940's when he conjured up “The Man Who Had All the Luck” followed by the hit plays “All My Sons” in 1947 and “Death of A Salesman” in 1949, both of which won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle’s best play award, with “Death of a Salesman” taking home the Pulitzer in 1949. Following, in 1953, Miller wrote a reactionary piece to the McCarthy era Red scare entitled, “The Crucible,” winning a Tony Award for that production. His career is further marked by film “The Misfits” and plays “After the Fall,” “The Ride Down Mt. Morgan” and 1994's “Broken glass.” This is not to mention a 5-year rocky marriage to superstar Marilyn Monroe and a lifetime achievement award at the age of 83. Even as recently as this past week, Miller had been planning a revival of “Death of a Salesman” in London with producer, David Reichenthal. It is still scheduled to go on beginning in May.

Mr. Miller passed away Thursday night of heart failure in his Connecticut home surrounded by family. Thus, we must say “goodbye” to this great writer, honoring him in the best way we know how; by continuing to treasure his works and by acknowledging and celebrating his life in ways only Willy Loman ever dreamed.

For more info on Arthur Miller see Yahoo News and SHOWBIZ/books/02/11/obit.miller/index.html" target="_blank">CNN.

William Wallace
Saturday, 12 February 2005

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