Critical Essay – All My Sons

HIGHER
DRAMA CRITICAL ESSAY RESOURCES

Scroll down for essay questions and lots of resources.

Write essays on “All My Sons” by Arthur Miller using the following questions:

SQA Specimen Paper

  • Choose a play in which a central character struggles to cope with social convention or financial difficulties or family duties.

Briefly explain the reasons for the character’s struggle an discuss how the dramatist’s presentation of this struggle enhances your understanding of character and/or theme in the play as a whole.

  • Choose a play in which the concluding scene provides effective clarification of the central concern.

By referring to detail to the concluding scene, discuss in what ways it is important for your understanding of the play as a whole.

  • Choose a play in which the conflict between two characters is an important feature.

Briefly explain the nature of this conflict and discuss how the dramatist’s presentation of this feature enhances your understanding of the play as a whole.

Hodder Gibson Model Paper 1

  • Choose a play in which a central character is slow to understand fully the seriousness of his or her behaviour.

Explain how this situation has developed and discuss how the character’s behaviour influences your overall assessment of him or her.

  • Choose a play which explores one of the following: the nature of heroism, the impact of self-delusion, the burden of responsibility.

Discuss how the dramatist explores this central concern through her or his presentation of one or more character.

  • Choose from a play a scene in which you consider a character makes a significant error of judgement.

Briefly explain the nature of this error of judgement and discuss how this error and its consequences influence your understanding of character and/or theme in the play as a whole.

Hodder Gibson Model Paper 2

  • Choose a play in which a character shows signs of instability at one or more than one key point in the play.

Explain the reason(s) for the character’s instability and discuss how this feature adds to your understanding of the central concern(s) of the text.

  • Choose a play in which an important part is played by one of the following: crime, punishment, retribution.

Explain how the dramatist explores the issue and discuss its importance to your understanding of character and/or theme in the play as a whole.

  • Choose from a play a scene which you find amusing or moving or disturbing.

Explain how the scene provokes this response and discuss how this aspect of the scene contributes to your understanding of the play as a whole.

Hodder Gibson Model Paper 3

  • Choose a play in which a central character experiences rejection or isolation or loneliness

Explain how the dramatist makes you aware of the character’s situation and discuss how it adds to your understanding of character and/or theme in the play as a whole.

  • Choose a play in which features one of the following conflicts: traditional values versus modern thinking; duty versus self-interest; delusion versus self-awareness.

Explain how the dramatist presents this conflict and discuss how this contributes to your understanding of the play as a whole.

  • Choose a play in which the setting in time and/or place is an important feature.

Explain how the dramatist exploits aspects of the setting in a way enhances your understanding of the central concern(s) of the play as a whole.

 Adapted from Old Higher Questions

2012 Exam Paper

Choose a play in which a central character’s changing view of himself/herself is an important feature.

Show how the dramatist makes you aware of the character’s changing view of himself/herself and discuss how this affects your understanding of the character in the play as a whole.

2011 Exam Paper

Choose from a play a scene in which manipulation, temptation or humiliation is an important feature.

Explain what happens in the scene and go on to show how the outcome of the manipulation, temptation or humiliation adds to your appreciation of the play as a whole.

Choose a play in which a power struggle is central to the action.

Explain briefly the circumstances of the power struggle and discuss the extent to which it contributes to your appreciation of theme and/or character in the play as a whole.

2010 Exam Paper

  1. Choose a play in which a central concern is clarified by contrast between two characters.

Discuss how the dramatist’s presentation of the contrast between the two characters adds to your understanding of this play as a whole.

Choose a play in which a central character experiences not only inner conflict but also conflict with one (or more than one) other character.

Explain the nature of both conflicts and discuss which one you consider to be more important in terms of character development and/or dramatic impact.

Choose   from a play a scene in which tension builds to a climax.

Explain how the dramatist creates and develops this tensions, and discuss the extent to which the scene has thematic as well as dramatic significance.

Choose a play which explores one of the following as a central concern: sacrifice, courage, integrity, steadfastness of purpose.

Show how the dramatist introduces and develops the central concern in a way which you find effective.

2009 Exam Paper

Choose a play in which a central character behaves in an obsessive manner.

Describe the nature of the character’s obsessive behaviour and discuss the influence this behaviour has on your understanding of  the play as a whole.

Choose a play set in a society whose values conflict with those of a central character or characters.

Describe this difference in values and discuss how effectively the opposition of values enhances your appreciation of the play as a whole.

2008 Exam Paper

Choose a play in which a central character is heroic yet vulnerable.

Show how the dramatist makes you aware of both qualities and discuss how this affects your understanding on the play as a whole.

Choose a play which explores the theme of love in difficult circumstances.

Explain how the dramatist develops this theme and discuss in what ways it is important for your understanding of the play as a whole.

Choose a play in which a character has to exist in a hostile environment.

Briefly describe the environment and discuss the extent to which it influences your response to the character’s behaviour and to your understanding of the play as a whole

2007 Exam Paper

Choose a play which has a theme of revenge or betrayal or sacrifice.

Show how the dramatist explores your chosen theme and discuss how this treatment enhances your appreciation of the play as a whole.

Choose from a play an important scene which you found particularly entertaining or particularly shocking.

Explain briefly why the scene is important to the play as a whole and discuss in detail how the dramatist makes the scene so entertaining or shocking.

Choose a play in which the relationship between a male and a female character changes significantly.

Show how the relationship between the two characters changes and discuss to what extent this illuminates a central theme/concern of the play.

2006 Exam Paper

Choose a play in which the dramatist’s use of contrast between two characters is important to your understanding of one of them.

Discuss how your understanding of this character is strengthened by the contrast. Show how this enhances your understanding of the play as a whole.

Choose a play which underlines how one person’s flaw(s) can have a significant impact on the play and the characters.

Explain briefly the nature of the flaw(s) and discuss in what ways it is important for your understanding of the play as a whole.

Choose a play in which an important theme is effectively highlighted by one specific scene or incident.

Explain how the theme is explored in the play as a whole and then show in detail how the chosen scene or incident effectively highlights it.

2005 Exam Paper

Choose a play whose main theme is made clear early in the action.

Show how the dramatist introduces the theme and show how it is developed throughout the play.

Choose a play in which one scene or moment determines the fate of a main character.

Explain fully why you think this is the key moment in the character’s fortunes and show how it enhances your understanding of character and/or theme in the play as a whole.

2004 Exam Paper

Choose a play which features one of the following themes: appearance versus reality; good versus evil; dreams versus reality; youth versus age.

Show how the dramatist develops one of these themes and discuss how the exploration of this theme enhances your appreciation of the play as a whole.

Choose a play in which the mood is mainly dark or pessimistic.

Show how the dramatist creates this mood and discuss in what ways it is important for your understanding of the play as a whole.

2003 Exam Paper

Choose a play in which a character feels increasingly isolated from the community in which he or she lives.

Show how the dramatist makes you aware of the conflict and discuss the extent to which you find the resolution of the conflict satisfying.

2002 Exam Paper

Choose a play in which there is a scene which provides a turning point in the drama.

Briefly explain  why it is a turning point and go on to discuss the importance of the scene to your appreciation of the play as a whole.

Choose a play in which there is a breakdown in family relationship(s).

Explain the reason(s) for the breakdown and discuss the extent to which it is important to the play as a whole.

Choose a play in which one of the character’s weaknesses were stronger than their strengths.

Explain what happened to this character and discuss the extent to which it is important to the play as a whole.

Choose a play involving the death of a central character.

Briefly explain the circumstances surrounding the death and discuss the extent to which it is important to your understanding of the character and the play as a whole.

Below you will find downloadable resources for the play “All My Sons” by Arthur Miller.

Remember you all have access to Word online via your school GLOW  account

Study guide – http://www.novelguide.com/all-my-sons

Synopsis
themes
Turning Point
turning-point-essay-plan-2
All My Sons by Arthur Miller
All my sons Essay
All My Sons Guilt and Blame Quotes
All my sons Joe essay
all_my_sons
All-My-Sons
-All-my-Sons–A-Critique-of-the-American-Dream
all-my-sons-script
All-My-Sons—use-of-contrast
basic-essay-plans-revision conflict-essay-plan
Joe-Keller-Character-Analysis-Act-1

writing-a-critical-essay-on-all-my-sons

all-my-sons-critical-essay-plan

all-my-sons-theme-of-responsibility

All My Sons Production Pack – links to production we visited at Dundee Rep

Refresh your memory using these:

all-my-sons-script

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