THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller (1952)

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In 1953, Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible" ran on Broadway at the Martin Beck. Despite being a box office success and acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, it was considered second-best to his prior "Death of a Salesman."


Although the events of the play are based on the events that took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, Miller was liberal in his fictionalization of those events. For example, many of the accusations of witchcraft in the play are driven by the affair between farmer, husband, and father John Proctor, and the Minister's teenage niece Abigail Williams; however, in real life Williams was probably about eleven at the time of the accusations and Proctor was over sixty, which makes it most unlikely that there was ever any such relationship. Miller himself said, "The play is not reportage of any kind .... [n]obody can start to write a tragedy and hope to make it reportage .... what I was doing was writing a fictional story about an important theme."

The "important theme" that Miller was writing about was clear to many observers in 1953 at the play's opening. It was written in response to Senator McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee's crusade against supposed communist sympathizers.
Essentially, Arthur Miller has written a literary allegory in which what is occurring in the plot (the Salem witch trials) is symbolic for what was occurring in the 1950s (McCarthyism).



Interesting Links:
Salem Witch Trials
Movie Trailer


Setting the Stage: Act I, in literary terms, is called an exposition, or an introduction to what we need to know about in the play. Explain how Arthur Miller has “set the stage,” for the rest of the play using literary technique (setting, characters, irony, symbolism....) using textual evidence to support your response.
DUE: Wednesday, April 22



Tyranny and hysteria:

Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" centralizes around mass hysteria, social and political repression, and the tragic combination of the two. Miller has admittedly stated that his play is a direct allegory for Senator McCarthy and the "Red Scare," which occurred in the United States in the 1950s. How do you see this connection in relation to your world, meaning your society, community, school, friends, enemies……
DUE: Friday, April 24

For more on the "Red Scare," click here and here.