Essay about Joe Keller as the Tragic Hero in Miller's All My Sons

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Joe Keller as the Tragic Hero in Miller's All My Sons

Ancient Greek tragedies were almost always about a protagonist with a tragic flaw. This flaw dictates the stories events and leads to the eventual downfall of the protagonist. The story cannot end until the protagonist has realised his flaw and tries to remedy it. This very often involves the protagonist dieing in an attempt to make right what wrongs he may have caused.

Arthur Miller has borrowed this idea as a base for his play ‘All My
Sons’. The protagonist of this play is Joe Keller, a sixty-year-old retired factory owner. The play follows the story of him and his family ; his wife Kate, his son Chris and Chris’ fiancée Annie in
1940’s suburban America. The play
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As the play progresses the different layers of Joe’s personality emerge. Joe feels it is his duty and responsibility to provide material comforts for his family whilst he is alive, and to leave an inheritance for his surviving son. There are hints throughout the play that Joe is troubled by his guilt. Miller shows us these hints of
Joe’s true character through strategically placed dramatic devices, which include dialogue from Joe and other characters, the setting of the play, props, entrances and exits of the characters and foreshadowing. The first dramatic device used by Miller in the play is when Larry’s memorial tree is knocked down by bad weather. Joe and Chris think that
Larry is definitely dead and do not read into the tree falling down,
However Kate thinks that it must mean Larry is not dead. She feels the tree should never have been planted in memorial because he is not dead, and sees it as the worlds way of showing he is still alive somewhere. This event begins to reveal Joe’s character because Joe doesn’t want to upset Kate by telling her to stop thinking Larry is still alive. Chris says ‘You have such a talent for ignoring things’, which is an early indication of how Joe reacts to a lot of situations.

There is also the horoscope that Frank drew up for Kate about Larry.
She believes that if the day that

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