Ethical Responsibility in a Modernist Universe: America in the Canvas of Miller’s All My Sons

Subhayu Bhattacharjee

Presidency University, Kolkata. Email:

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In an interview with Enoch Brater in the University of Michigan, Arthur Miller emphasized the significance of the Depression of the 1920’s on all playwrights of his generation. In one of his plays, namely, All My Sons, this re-emerges as an important theme, albeit implicitly. Focussing on the lives of a middle-class American household, Miller essays to show how politics in the realm of the public sphere happens to influence decisions that have tremendous emotional consequences in the private lives of all members. I attempt to show that this focus on the family as a space of theatricality is undertaken with a view to exposing the inextricable associations that exist between the two aforesaid spheres of life, and which conspicuously is left unidentified by the characters. The play makes it evident that the hidden presence of this issue is itself the principal cause of tragedy. In fact Miller himself in his well-known article entitled ‘Tragedy and the Common Man’ attributed the idea of self-persistence in an extremely uncontrollable universe to the idea of tragedy in modern times, and the idea of semblance of private autonomy (which no character in the play is bereft of ) as mentioned above squares in perfectly well with this. In attempting to demonstrate the consequences of the inability to locate this nexus between the public and the private, I have undertaken to show how each character is, in the last instance, ‘interpellated’by the ethos of a social discourse that ultimately puts into question their autonomy further, thereby identifying this ‘hidden presence’ as critics have spoken of vis-à-vis the play and its symbolic implications.

 Keywords: Other, pubic, private, capitalist, modernism, American Dream.

Banaras as Text: Representation of Widows in Mona Verma’s The White Shadow

Ankur Konar

Assistant Professor, Department of English, Sir Rashbehari Ghosh Mahavidyalaya. Email:

  Volume V, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF


The interplay of suppression, oppression, repression, compression of identity is an apt summary of the widows living in India. Such long practiced derelict, desolate state of the widows marks them to be somewhat ‘unwanted’ in our so called progressive society. This article will take up Mona Verma’s novel The White Shadow, a novel set in the city of widows, that is Banaras, to discuss how the five-year-old Brinda is widowed after being married for a few hours. The child widow becomes an unwanted figure as her family refuses to take her back and she is placed in the Nirmala Ashram, the marginal place within the centre of the city. Allied with a sense of metaphor, this marginalisation relegates Brinda in particular and the widows in general to be parasitic in nature, lacking any individual identity. Taking cue from some social studies on widowhood this article will focus on how Banaras becomes vibrant with the voices of these silent widows!

Keywords:  Banaras, City, Urban, Widow

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