The use of an ellipse creates tension and suspense for the audience as we become keener for the characters and plot to acquire justice. Miller also gives the opportunity to for us to question as to whether Chris Keller is our tragic hero whose fatal flaw is self-delusion. In addition to this Chris is our symbol of hope as the majority of hope sprouts from him therefore if his hope expires then we have no hope for the characters. Nevertheless Act Three in ‘All My Sons’ becomes pivotal in examining whether we reach catharsis.
In Act Three the audience hope stalwartly for some justice and resolution to be taken place and long for a cathartic conclusion. As Miller relieves Kate’s sub-conscious hope we become fearful at the thought of what might happen when she finally faces reality. Miller also reveals that not only is the audience going through the process of purging emotions to reach a cathartic ending, but in fact so are the characters therefore the audience empathise with their desperate hope for resolution.
The audience now seem to share the same hope as the characters building deeper empathetic feelings from the audience: “(with pity and fear)”18 The letter that Ann reveals to Kate becomes representative of a catalyst used by Miller in order to reach catharsis. What does the letter enclose and how can this change the lives of all the characters, is what we the audience fear for. After the truth has been exposed we finally feel a sense of relief, but then the plot takes a sudden turn: “A shot is heard in the house. They stand frozen for a brief second. “19
In conclusion: having explored the issues within the plot that allow for catharsis, Arthur Miller in ‘All My Sons’ does not let the audience reach the long awaited cathartic ending. Our hope for resolution and the purging of valuable emotions is waived through the ultimate act of cowardice by Joe Keller: his suicide. The hope we have for Chris, Ann and Kate to live freer lives is now the only hope that exists. Instead of relief, a whole new consortium of anxieties is revealed. We can evaluate upon the fact of whether or not all the characters had a further responsibility.
Should have Chris vowed to prove that his fathers alibi was the truth? At the time when Steve Deever called Keller for help and Kate answered, should she have taken responsibility? And finally, should we, as the audience, be so harsh upon Kate Keller, is her only fault to love her family more than ever, thus pitying her state. Miller has indeed purged our emotions till the very end of the play, but whether or not we have reached a cathartic ending can only be identified from one’s own experience.
Primary Texts Miller, Arthur. All My Sons. Oxford: Heinemann Educational Publishers, 1971. Websites http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_dream