Arthur Miller's language: The poetic in the colloquial

Stephen A Marino, Fordham University

Abstract

Although Arthur Miller has been a major American playwright for six decades, the poetic language of his plays has not been subject to close critical scrutiny. Miller has been tagged as a playwright who predominantly uses colloquial language. However, his plays contain many poetic elements. Throughout his canon he employs a sophisticated use of language that goes beyond merely re-creating the realistic speech dialects of his characters in prose. Rather, Miller significantly employs the figurative devices of metaphor, symbol, and imagery to give poetic significance to the common man's dialect. Miller's dialogue often takes what appears to be the colloquialisms, cliches, and idioms of the common man's language and reveals them as poetic language. In addition, in many texts he also has embedded a series of metaphors--many are extended--which possess particular connotations in the societies of the individual plays. Most importantly, the figurative devices significantly support the tragic conflicts and social themes which are the focus of every Miller play. Examining how these devices work in a cross section of his plays from his early to late career suggests that Miller has created a unique dramatic idiom in twentieth century American drama. Miller's own theory of verse drama provides insight into how he uses figurative language to illustrate his social themes. ^

Subject Area

Theater|Literature, American|Language, General

Recommended Citation

Stephen A Marino, "Arthur Miller's language: The poetic in the colloquial" (January 1, 1997). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9730101.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9730101

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