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Rebelling Against the Status Quo in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

In a world where compromise is part of our daily experience, there is something to be

said for the rebel. Depending on the time, circumstances and historian, individuals who have

been found to revolt have been labeled everything from heroic revolutionary leader to mere

lunatic (albeit magnificent agitators). The actions and agendas of such rebels vary, as do the

means and modes of self expression. But one thing is certain – rebels capture our attention, if not

our collective imagination, and oftentimes strike a common chord found within the human spirit.

There is a certain element of excitement and dread attached to the idea of rebelling against the

status quos regardless of a given agenda. One of the more compelling heroes of revolt in recent

literary and theatrical history is Arthur Miller. Arthur Miller is arguably the most celebrated

playwright of the past half century and has secured a well earned place in the history of

playwrights of revolt.

Arthur Miller’s moderately humble beings as a child growing up in the shadow of New

York City did little to anticipate his eventual rise as a literary giant. Miller’s family was

“unequivocally middle-class and Jewish (Bigsby, page viii).” There were no notable experiences

that shaped him or propelled him in a particular direction. But Miller did have a desire to attend

the University of Michigan and when he was initially denied admission he went to work to

reverse the university’s decision. Miller gained employment to personally cover his tuition and

“wrote a letter to the president of the university and asked for a chance to prove his merit

(Bigsby, page viii).” He was eventually accepted and successfully earned a Bachelor of Arts


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plays. Miller was married three times (most notably to Marilyn Monroe), was active in liberal

movements, stood up against the House of Un-American Activities Committee and even

endeavored to write an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. From Joe Keller to

Willy Loman, John Proctor to Dr. Stockman, Miller championed the common-man’s struggle to

revolt against the world’s standards and their resolve, if not to live then to die on their own

terms. He asked hard questions, gave unpopular answers and articulated revolt in a way that

continues to stir generations.

Works Cited

An Enemy of the People, 1950, Henrik Ibsen, Adapted by Arthur Miller, Penguin Plays

The Crucible, Arthur Miller, 1952, Dramatists Play Service, Inc

The Portable Arthur Miller, 1971, Edited by Christopher Bigsby, Penguin Classic, Inc.

Digging For a Living

Digging For a Living

In his poem “Digging,” Seamus Heaney describes a unique relationship between a boy and his father. Their relationship closely relates to the one I have with my father. Throughout the poem, the poet’s pen is contrasted with the father’s spade, using each as a symbol of their vocation and background. Along the same lines, the relationship between my father and myself can be expressed through my keyboard and his pencil.

Heaney’s poem tells of a boy and his father who have different callings for their career. The father has worked on the family’s farm his entire life, digging up potatoes and keeping up the farm. The poet describes his father’s digging, as the title infers, with alliteration from the line “Under my window, a clean rasping sound when the spade sinks into gravely ground: My father, digging” (3-5). The poet, on the other hand, would much rather be writing stories or novels than out in the field doing manual labor all day. The father digs physically with his hands while on the contrary, the son digs mentally with his brain. Heaney uses a spade to symbolize the father’s ambitions, thus, representing his farm work. He metaphorically describes the son’s writing with the passage, “Between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests” (29-30).

My father and I share the same type of relationship that Heaney and his father have in the poem. My father is an architect and designs buildings for a living. He spends most of his day at his drawing table, sketching plans for new buildings. On the other hand, I have a job that involves using computers most of the day. He uses his pencil to get the job done, while I use my keyboard to get the job done. When I was younger, he always wanted me to be an architect with him, but now he accepts the fact that I am not going to be an architect because I have a sufficient job in the computer field.

Throughout Heaney’s poem, diction highlights certain words and phrases that require extra emphasis. For example, in the line “The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft against the inside knee was levered firmly,” the words chosen intensely impact the meaning (10-1). Lug, shaft and levered all intensify the line. Furthermore, most of the words are parts of a gun, which is another metaphor used.

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