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Home » Unveiling the Layers: A Literary Analysis of Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues

Unveiling the Layers: A Literary Analysis of Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues

Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues is a satirical play that explores themes of capitalism, religion, and the media. The play centers around the impending execution of a messianic figure in a fictional South American country and the various characters who become involved in his story. This article will provide a literary analysis of Resurrection Blues, examining the play’s use of symbolism, characterization, and plot to comment on contemporary society.

Historical and Cultural Context

Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues is a play that was written in the early 2000s, but it is set in a fictional country in South America. The play is a commentary on the political and social climate of the time, as well as a reflection on the human condition. The play is set in a time when the world was still reeling from the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and the United States was embroiled in a war in Iraq. The play explores themes of power, corruption, and the search for meaning in a world that seems to have lost its way. Miller’s play is also deeply rooted in the traditions of Western literature, drawing on the themes and motifs of the Bible and Greek tragedy. The play’s title, Resurrection Blues, is a reference to the Christian belief in the resurrection of the dead, and the play itself is filled with allusions to biblical stories and characters. Miller’s play is a powerful exploration of the human experience, and it is a testament to the enduring power of literature to speak to the deepest truths of our lives.

The Characters

Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues is a play that features a diverse cast of characters, each with their own unique personality and backstory. The protagonist, Jean-Baptiste Clamence, is a wealthy businessman who is willing to pay a large sum of money to be crucified in order to gain publicity for his company. His fiancée, Emily, is a young woman who is torn between her love for Jean-Baptiste and her desire to do what is right. The play also features a group of revolutionaries who are determined to overthrow the corrupt government, as well as a priest who is struggling with his faith. Each character in Resurrection Blues is complex and multi-dimensional, and Miller does an excellent job of exploring their motivations and inner conflicts. Through their interactions with one another, the characters reveal the many layers of the play’s themes, including the corrupting influence of power, the nature of faith, and the importance of personal responsibility. Overall, the characters in Resurrection Blues are a testament to Miller’s skill as a playwright and his ability to create compelling and thought-provoking works of literature.

The Setting

The setting of Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues is a fictional South American country called “San Sebastian.” The play takes place in a rundown hotel room where a wealthy American businessman, his wife, and a cast of characters including a revolutionary leader, a priest, and a group of soldiers all converge. The setting is significant as it reflects the political and social turmoil of the country, with the hotel room serving as a microcosm of the larger issues at play. The dilapidated state of the room also highlights the decay and corruption present in the country’s government and society. The setting ultimately serves as a backdrop for the play’s exploration of themes such as power, corruption, and the search for meaning in a chaotic world.

Symbolism and Imagery

Symbolism and imagery play a significant role in Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues. The play is filled with various symbols and images that add depth and meaning to the story. One of the most prominent symbols in the play is the crucifixion. The play is set in a South American country, and the crucifixion is a powerful image that represents the country’s history of colonization and oppression. The crucifixion is also a symbol of sacrifice and redemption, which are themes that run throughout the play.

Another important symbol in the play is the character of Jeanine. Jeanine is a prostitute who is hired to play the role of the Virgin Mary in a televised crucifixion. Jeanine represents the corruption and exploitation that exist in the world. She is a symbol of the commodification of religion and the objectification of women.

The imagery in the play is also significant. The desert is a recurring image that represents the harshness and emptiness of life. The desert is a place of isolation and despair, and it is where the characters in the play go to find meaning and purpose.

Overall, the symbolism and imagery in Resurrection Blues add depth and complexity to the play. They help to convey the themes of sacrifice, redemption, corruption, and exploitation. The use of these symbols and images is a testament to Miller’s skill as a playwright and his ability to create a rich and meaningful story.

The Theme of Resurrection

The theme of resurrection is a prominent motif in Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues. Throughout the play, characters grapple with the idea of rising from the dead, both literally and metaphorically. The play’s central figure, the messianic figure known as the “Man,” claims to have the power to resurrect the dead, and his followers eagerly await his promised resurrection. Meanwhile, other characters struggle to find meaning and purpose in their lives, seeking their own forms of resurrection. Miller uses this theme to explore questions of faith, redemption, and the human desire for transcendence.

The Role of Religion

Religion plays a significant role in Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues. The play explores the themes of faith, redemption, and the afterlife. The characters in the play are all searching for something, and religion provides them with a sense of hope and purpose. The character of Jeanine, for example, is a devout Catholic who believes that her faith will save her from her troubled past. Similarly, the character of Felix, a wealthy businessman, turns to religion in his search for meaning and purpose in life. Miller uses religion to highlight the human need for something greater than oneself and the search for meaning in life. However, the play also critiques the commercialization of religion and the exploitation of people’s faith for profit. The character of the Reverend, for example, is portrayed as a manipulative figure who uses religion to gain power and wealth. Overall, religion plays a complex and multifaceted role in Resurrection Blues, reflecting the complexities of human faith and the search for meaning in life.

Irony and Satire

Irony and satire are two literary devices that Arthur Miller masterfully employs in his play Resurrection Blues. The play is a scathing critique of the American obsession with fame and the commodification of death. Miller uses irony to highlight the absurdity of the situation, while satire is used to expose the flaws in the characters and society as a whole. The play is set in a fictional South American country where a struggling dictator is trying to boost his popularity by staging the crucifixion of a man named Lazarus. The play is filled with irony, from the fact that the dictator is named General Felix Barria, which translates to “happy warrior,” to the fact that the crucifixion is being staged for a reality TV show. Miller uses irony to show how the characters are blind to the absurdity of their situation and how they are willing to do anything for fame and fortune. Satire is also used to expose the flaws in the characters and society. The characters are all caricatures of different aspects of American society, from the greedy producer to the disillusioned priest. Miller uses satire to show how these characters are all consumed by their own desires and how they are willing to sacrifice anything, including their own morals, for their own gain. Overall, Miller’s use of irony and satire in Resurrection Blues is a powerful commentary on the state of American society and the dangers of our obsession with fame and fortune.

The Use of Language and Dialogue

In Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues, the use of language and dialogue plays a crucial role in conveying the themes and messages of the play. Miller’s writing style is characterized by its simplicity and directness, which allows the audience to focus on the content of the dialogue rather than the language itself. The play is set in a fictional South American country, and Miller uses language to create a sense of place and to highlight the cultural differences between the characters. The dialogue is also used to explore the themes of religion, politics, and the human condition. Miller’s characters speak in a variety of styles, from the poetic language of the revolutionary leader to the colloquialisms of the American tourists. This diversity of language adds depth and complexity to the play, and allows the audience to see the characters from different perspectives. Overall, the use of language and dialogue in Resurrection Blues is a testament to Miller’s skill as a writer, and adds to the play’s enduring relevance and impact.

Miller’s Writing Style

Arthur Miller’s writing style is characterized by its realism and social commentary. He often explores the complexities of human relationships and the impact of societal norms on individuals. In Resurrection Blues, Miller uses a mix of humor and satire to critique the American obsession with fame and the commodification of death. His dialogue is sharp and witty, and he creates vivid and memorable characters that reflect the diversity of American society. Miller’s writing style is both accessible and thought-provoking, making his work relevant and engaging for contemporary audiences.

The Play’s Structure

Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues is a play that is structured in a unique way. The play is divided into two acts, with each act having three scenes. The first act sets the stage for the play, introducing the characters and the central conflict. The second act is where the action really heats up, with the characters’ motivations and desires becoming more complex and the tension between them escalating.

One of the most interesting aspects of the play’s structure is the way Miller uses flashbacks and dream sequences to reveal the characters’ backstories and inner thoughts. These moments are often surreal and disjointed, but they add depth and complexity to the characters and their relationships.

Another important element of the play’s structure is the use of repetition and circularity. Certain lines and motifs are repeated throughout the play, creating a sense of inevitability and reinforcing the themes of death and resurrection. The play’s final scene, in particular, is a masterful example of circularity, as the characters find themselves back where they started, but with a new understanding of themselves and their place in the world.

Overall, the structure of Resurrection Blues is a testament to Miller’s skill as a playwright. By using a variety of techniques to reveal the characters’ inner lives and create a sense of inevitability, he creates a powerful and thought-provoking work of art.

The Reception of Resurrection Blues

The reception of Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues has been mixed since its premiere in 2002. Some critics praised the play for its satirical commentary on American capitalism and the media’s obsession with sensationalism. Others, however, found the play to be overly convoluted and lacking in coherence. Despite the mixed reviews, Resurrection Blues has continued to be performed in theaters around the world, with each production offering its own interpretation of Miller’s complex themes. As we delve deeper into the layers of this play, it becomes clear that Resurrection Blues is a work that demands careful analysis and interpretation.

Miller’s Political Views

Arthur Miller, the renowned American playwright, was known for his political views that were often reflected in his works. Miller was a staunch advocate for social justice and equality, and his plays often tackled issues such as corruption, capitalism, and the American Dream. In his play Resurrection Blues, Miller explores the intersection of politics and religion, and the consequences of power and greed. The play is set in a fictional South American country, where a dictator is facing a rebellion and is seeking to use the crucifixion of a man named Lazarus as a means to quell the uprising. Miller’s political views are evident in the play, as he critiques the abuse of power and the manipulation of religion for political gain. Through his characters, Miller exposes the corruption and hypocrisy of those in positions of authority, and highlights the importance of standing up against injustice. Miller’s political views continue to resonate with audiences today, as his works remain relevant and thought-provoking.

The Significance of the Title

The title of a literary work is often the first thing that readers encounter, and it can set the tone for their entire reading experience. In the case of Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues, the title is particularly significant. The word “resurrection” suggests themes of rebirth and renewal, while the word “blues” implies a sense of sadness or melancholy. Together, these two words create a sense of tension and ambiguity that is characteristic of Miller’s writing. As readers delve deeper into the text, they will discover that the title is just one of many layers that make up this complex and thought-provoking work.

The Play’s Commentary on Society

Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues is a play that offers a scathing commentary on society. The play is set in a fictional South American country, where a wealthy American businessman is planning to stage a crucifixion as a form of entertainment. The play explores themes of capitalism, religion, and the commodification of human life. Miller uses the characters in the play to highlight the flaws in society and the dangers of unchecked capitalism. The play is a powerful critique of the way in which society values money and entertainment over human life. Miller’s commentary on society is both thought-provoking and disturbing, and it forces the audience to confront uncomfortable truths about the world we live in.

The Portrayal of Women

In Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues, the portrayal of women is complex and multifaceted. While some female characters are depicted as strong and independent, others are objectified and reduced to their physical appearance. The character of Jeanine, for example, is a powerful businesswoman who is not afraid to speak her mind and take charge. However, her sexuality is also emphasized, with several male characters commenting on her attractiveness and desirability. Similarly, the character of Gabriela is initially presented as a passive and submissive woman, but she later reveals herself to be a strong and resilient survivor. Overall, the portrayal of women in Resurrection Blues is both progressive and regressive, reflecting the contradictions and complexities of gender roles in contemporary society.

The Relationship between Art and Politics

Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues is a play that explores the relationship between art and politics. The play is set in a fictional South American country where a dictator is facing a rebellion. The play’s characters include a wealthy American businessman, a revolutionary leader, and a woman who claims to be the Messiah. The play raises questions about the role of art in politics and the responsibility of artists to engage with political issues. Miller’s play suggests that art can be a powerful tool for political change, but it also warns of the dangers of using art for propaganda or manipulation. The play’s themes are particularly relevant in today’s political climate, where artists are increasingly using their work to comment on social and political issues.

The Play’s Connection to Miller’s Other Works

Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues is not only a standalone play but also has connections to his other works. One of the most prominent connections is the theme of the American Dream. Miller has explored this theme in his other plays such as Death of a Salesman and All My Sons. In Resurrection Blues, the American Dream is portrayed through the character of Jeanine, who dreams of becoming a Hollywood star. However, her dream is shattered when she realizes that her role in the play is to be crucified. This highlights the harsh reality of the American Dream, where success often comes at a great cost.

Another connection to Miller’s other works is the portrayal of the corrupt nature of society. In Resurrection Blues, the corrupt nature of society is depicted through the character of the General, who is willing to pay any amount of money to ensure his resurrection. This is similar to the portrayal of society in Miller’s play The Crucible, where the corrupt nature of society is shown through the witch trials.

Furthermore, the play also explores the theme of the individual versus society. This theme is also present in Miller’s other works such as A View from the Bridge and The Crucible. In Resurrection Blues, the character of Skip is a prime example of the individual who is willing to stand up against society. He refuses to be a part of the General’s plan and instead chooses to help Jeanine escape.

In conclusion, Resurrection Blues is not only a play that stands on its own but also has connections to Miller’s other works. The themes of the American Dream, the corrupt nature of society, and the individual versus society are all explored in this play, just like in Miller’s other works. These connections add depth to the play and make it a valuable addition to Miller’s body of work.

The Role of Money and Capitalism

In Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues, the role of money and capitalism is a central theme that permeates throughout the play. The play explores the idea that money and capitalism have the power to corrupt individuals and society as a whole. The characters in the play are all driven by their desire for money and success, which leads them to make questionable decisions and engage in unethical behavior.

One of the most prominent examples of the corrupting influence of money is the character of Jeanine, who is willing to do whatever it takes to become rich and famous. She is willing to sell her body and her soul to the highest bidder, and she is not alone in her pursuit of wealth. The other characters in the play are also motivated by money, whether it is the corrupt government officials who are willing to sell out their own people for a profit, or the wealthy businessmen who are more concerned with their bottom line than with the well-being of their employees.

Miller’s play is a scathing critique of capitalism and the way it can lead to greed, corruption, and moral decay. It suggests that the pursuit of wealth and success can blind individuals to the needs of others and lead them to engage in unethical behavior. The play also highlights the way that capitalism can create a stark divide between the haves and the have-nots, with the wealthy few controlling the lives of the many.

Overall, Resurrection Blues is a powerful commentary on the role of money and capitalism in modern society. It challenges us to consider the ways in which our pursuit of wealth and success can lead us astray and encourages us to think critically about the systems that govern our lives.

The Play’s Message for Contemporary Audiences

Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues, written in 2002, is a play that still resonates with contemporary audiences today. The play’s message is clear: the pursuit of money and power can lead to the corruption of society and the loss of humanity. This theme is particularly relevant in today’s world, where greed and corruption are rampant in politics and business.

The play also explores the idea of the American Dream and its flaws. The characters in the play are all chasing their own version of the American Dream, whether it be fame, fortune, or power. However, their pursuit of these goals leads them down a path of destruction and ultimately, death. This message is important for contemporary audiences to consider, as many people still believe in the myth of the American Dream and the idea that success is the key to happiness.

Furthermore, the play addresses the issue of religion and its role in society. The character of the Messiah, who is portrayed as a businessman, highlights the commercialization of religion and the exploitation of people’s faith for profit. This is a topic that is still relevant today, as many religious institutions are criticized for their financial practices and the way they handle scandals.

Overall, Resurrection Blues is a play that speaks to the issues of our time. Its message about the dangers of greed and corruption, the flaws of the American Dream, and the commercialization of religion are all topics that are still relevant today. As such, the play is a powerful reminder of the importance of staying true to our values and maintaining our humanity in the face of societal pressures.