GUILT, BETRAYAL, AND SELF-DECEPTION IN ARTHUR MILLER’S ALL MY SONS AND DEATH OF SALESMAN

Abstract

Arthur Miller’s plays depict the human tendency of self-deception, betrayal and guilt which leads to the deterioration and the collapse of human values. The intensity of these elements may vary but they run through all of his plays. In All My Sons, Joe, a selfish businessman, in order to save his business from ruin, supplies defective cylinder heads to the American Air Force which results in the death of 21 fighter plane pilots. Joe atones for his crime by committing suicide. In Death of Salesman, the central subject is the collapse of dreams and false nature of protagonist which bring about not only his own ruin but also that of his family. The play also shows the contradicting feelings of self-deception, betrayal and guilt which speed Willy to his demise. According to Miller, the American Dream creates false hopes that prevent people from being proud of what they have accomplished to make their lives better than they would be elsewhere, and eventually fail at achieving anything.