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  • Print publication year: 1997
  • Online publication date: May 2006

14 - Critic, criticism, critics


From the very beginning of his career, Arthur Miller has engaged with the critical enterprise, but perhaps even more interestingly he has himself been a relentless and passionate critic, in all of his plays, of the human social and psychological condition, and has consistently ascribed a high value to that critical engagement. In fact, Miller's is a remarkably diverse yet tautly consistent group of major works that have made him, without doubt, the major American dramatic writer of his time, perhaps of the twentieth century. And yet, perhaps not surprisingly, given the nature of the expectations of American theatre audiences, Miller's critical reception, particularly in his native America, has been mixed, at times downright hostile; Miller has irked critics from the beginning of his career and continues to do so, and it is precisely this irksomeness, along with his relentless will to excavate his own and the general human psyche and to place his discoveries into hypotheses about the human experience that draw broad (and often very critical) conclusions, that make his plays so compelling and powerful. “Great drama,” he declares, “is great questions or it is nothing but technique.”