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How does Miller present Gellberg so far in the play?
In scene one Miller presents Gellberg as corpse like `perfect stillness' and wearing
attire that can be likened to that of funeral wear `he is in a black suit, black tie.' For
the audience this not only highlights how Gellberg is an `intense man' but may
foreshadow later events in the play to the viewer.
During scene one, we see Gellberg interact with Hyman's wife, Margret. We, as the
audience observe Gellberg in a social setting, and while Margret is both hospitable
and amiable `can I get you something? Tea?' Gellberg is out rightly brusque and
boorish this is displayed in both the stage directions ` (faint reprimand)' and in the
speech `He said five o'clock sharp.' We also learn from this speech that Gellberg
values punctuality and professionalism, `...it's very nice'.
Additionally Miller presents Gellberg as hugely inexperienced in the wider world,
`well, there's Finns all over' this could be due to lack of money as the great
depression had just happened, or that Gellberg isn't fond of travelling `New York's
the size of France, why would I go to Minnesota for?'
Miller makes a the characters of Hyman and Gellberg contrast hugely as Gellberg is
insecure with sexuality, whereas Hyman is at ease, and is portrayed as an
adulterous husband. From scene one we see a rivalry between Hyman and Gellberg,
mainly over Sylvia `your relationship.' Gellberg is immensely complimentary of his
wife as for the era he states that `you could talk to Sylvia like you talk to a man.'
Miller chooses to present Gellberg as a Jew who wants to break his own stereotype.
As this play is set in 1930's America, antiSemitism is rife, and Gellberg makes a
point of setting himself apart from the Jewish community. This is illustrated when his
desire to be a unique individual is expressed through his surname `Gellburg. It's
the only one in the phone book.' Furthermore Gellberg tells Hyman `I don't run with
the crowd, I see with these eyes, nobody else's.' This seeming lack of empathy
could be why he cannot sympathise with Sylvia, `for making it hard for me' and
cannot understand why she is so affected by the photographs in the newspaper `I
want you to stand up.'
Miller presents Gellberg's relationship with Sylvia as not only strained but disjointed
and awkward ` (Gellberg is standing behind her, He holds a paper bag.) ' this stage
direction also leaves the audience unsettled, as the act of standing behind someone
is perceived as threatening and sinister.
Miller does however portray Gellberg as deeply in love with Sylvia, bringing her gifts
to improve her mood, and offering her support and comfort `You'll get better, don't
worry about it.' Conversely as Gellberg has pressured their son into doing something
Sylvia isn't approving of, it causes tension in the marriage ` (with an edge of
resentment) '. As a response to this, Miller chooses to highlight the adoration
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Gellberg has ` gives her a kiss on the cheek'. Whilst this action is not a regular
occurrence ` She is embarrassed and vaguely alarmed' Gellberg is echoing Hyman
`talk about...you know...everything.'
We know that Gellberg is stereotypically supposed to be democratic due to the views
of his religion, but as Miller has chosen to state Gellberg is `Republican' it further
highlights not only is lack pf Jewish identity `he doesn't like being Jewish' , but his
close minded approach to life.…read more