All My Sons Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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In what ways is All My Sons a domestic tragedy?  

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There is so much of this sad play that shows this is a domestic tragedy. A domestic tragedy can be defined as a tragedy where the principal actors in the tragedy are normal lower and middle class individuals, rather than noble, kingly figures. A domestic tragedy is therefore a tragedy that an audience can relate to more, because it features everyday life and issues that the audience is more likely to be aware of, and perhaps to have experienced themselves to a certain extent. This can be seen in the way that Joe and Kate Keller constantly do everything they can to deceive both themselves and others around them, and how they strenuously avoid the truth in any possible way. This actually produces some very sadly ironic situations, such as when Joe Keller speaks to George and says:

There are certain men in the world who rather see everybody hung before they'll take blame. You understand me, George?

Of course, the audience understands this statement far more than Joe Keller himself understands it, because Joe is of course, unwittingly, speaking of his own situation, and his complete avoidance of taking responsibility for his own actions. By the end of the play, he is forced into accepting his own culpability, and that all the pilots who died as a result of his crime were "his sons," and facing that guilt honestly means that he ends up killing himself, as he sees no alternative. It is impossible for him to entertain living when he has openly acknowledged his guilt, and this is one way in which this play can be regarded as a domestic tragedy. It exposes the intricate and complex web of lies and deceit that humans so often build up around themselves and the tragedy that so often strikes when those webs are torn down.

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