Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 165

The themes of Arthur Miller’s The Price revolve around familial duty, regret, and guilt. Victor and Walter are brothers who, when their father lost everything in 1929, chose different paths. Victor became a police officer and supported his father, while Walter continued his education and became a doctor. Now, as they come together to sell their father’s furniture, they are faced with the decisions they made. Victor must consider what he has lost by his sacrifice; financial comfort and a fulfilled career. Walter must confront that his choice hasn’t made him happy; he has suffered a nervous breakdown and is divorced. He suffers from the guilt of choosing his career over their father, and he resents Victor, who sacrificed his own ambition for family.

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A third character, Solomon, the furniture dealer, experiences regret and guilt for different reasons; his daughter’s suicide. He is now embarking on a new career, an attempt to step away from some of the weight of his past.

Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 426

The Price dramatizes two sides of a dilemma: to sacrifice ambitions and desires for a loved one and then lose oneself, or to not make the sacrifice, in which case one must struggle with feelings of guilt. Victor chose the first route, while Walter chose the second. Thus, Victor sacrificed his ambition, his desire to become a scientist, in order to help his father, and the result is that he is trapped in a job he despises and he feels lost, unable to make a decision about retirement and a new career. Walter, who fled his responsibility to a father crushed by the stock market crash of 1929, pursued a successful career as a doctor but is now tormented by guilt, so much so that he attempts to bribe Victor to alleviate it. At the end of the play, when Walter comments that he will not allow Victor to make him feel guilty again, it is clear that Walter actually has been tormenting himself.

Each brother envies the other. Victor envies Walter’s successful career, while Walter envies Victor’s generous spirit. Neither man, however, can return to his original choice and undo it. Victor understands this finality by the end of the play, while Walter is still trying to erase...

(The entire section contains 591 words.)

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