All My Sons

Tension and Foreshadowing in Act One of All My Sons 11th Grade

Act One of Arthur Miller's All My Sons introduces themes of money and materialism and a reliance on the supernatural as sources of conflict. The tense beginning indicates escalating acrimony in the following act and foreshadows the tragic finale. It is the first impression the audience has of the story, making it vital to the onstage delivery. Tension is naturally formulated through the dialogue of the protagonists; however, Miller introduces themes vital to the plot through passive-aggression between minor characters too.

Jim and Sue are two subtly-opposing caricatures of the social responsibility debate that frames the entire play, introduced in Act One as a couple. While they are both presented as victims of a consumerist nation, they respond differently. Sue responds by placing profit at the heart of all of her motivations, including sending Jim to medical school, as she believes this will bring about their best life - after to what is revealed about Joe’s monetary obsession, this pales and becomes a comparatively comic echo. Jim, on the other hand, did use to have some notion of his social responsibility level but has since compromised. In a later on duologue between Sue and Annie, it is revealed Jim still believes in...

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