The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller: A Life Born on October 17, 1915 l Attended the University of Michigan from 1934 -1938 l Graduated with a degree in journalism l Wrote and produced five plays during college career l Married three times l Two daughters, one son l
Miller and HUAC Investigated for possible associations with the Communist party from 1953 to 1955 l In 1956, he was called to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). l Only attended meetings looking to advocate social justice and equality l When brought before the committee, he refused to name any other attendees. l
Miller and HUAC (cont. ) Found guilty of contempt l Later released l
The Red Scare A time of paranoia and hysteria over communism l Many government officials were involved or accused. l Many writers, actors, and directors lost their jobs l Many named names to save their own careers l
Connections Miller wrote The Crucible as a metaphor for the Red Scare in the 1950’s. l He felt there was a “witch hunt” within the government and beyond l Like the witch trials, it was easier to admit guilt than maintain innocence. l The play is widely performed when social unrest is present in a culture. l
20 th Century Witch Hunts l The Holocaust
20 th Century Witch Hunts l Japanese-American Internment Camps
20 th Century Witch Hunts: Racial Profiling African Americans l Native Americans l Arab/Middle-Eastern decent l
20 th Century Witch Hunts: Stereotypes Homosexuality l AIDS l
The story takes place in 1692 during the Salem Witch Trials
During this time, Puritans believed that any peculiar behavior or defiance towards society, religion, or God, was a direct result of being “moved” by the devil.
Possible Causes For Accusing Hallucinations from spoiled food l Boredom l Strict society l Social cleansing? l Land dispute l
If children misbehaved, defied their parents, or acted strange, it was only because the devil himself inspired them to do so.
Individuals that were accused of being witches had two options.
Confess and ask God forgiveness (even if it wasn’t true).
Or deny all accusations and be sentenced to death.
Deaths were public events, and forms of entertainment.
Puritans did not go to the movies. They went to town hangings.
The youngest child to be accused was four years old.
Believe it or not, her name was Dorkus.
Children weren’t the only ones accused.
A couple of dogs were hung because they wouldn’t stop barking.
That is obviously a sign of the devil.
Now for the confusing part.
If you were accused, sometimes the town would watch you be thrown into a lake with heavy weights.
If you were to drown, you were not considered a witch.
But you were dead so it didn’t matter.
If you managed to stay above water, that was not considered natural.
Therefore, you would be hung for being a witch.
Either way you were dead.
Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible to illustrate that history repeats itself.
During the 50’s, Senator Joseph Mc. Carthy was accusing people of being communists.
A lot of famous figures were accused. This includes: actors, television executives, producers, and other people in Hollywood.
Many people in Hollywood are very liberal. Therefore, they must also be communists.
In fact, Arthur Miller was put on trial for being a communist.
Even President Ronald Reagan.
He was originally an actor. Remember?
People who were accused had two options.
They could apologize for their actions and confess to being a communist (even if it wasn’t true).
Or they could be thrown in jail.
Just like the Salem Witch Trials, the Mc. Carthy era was unfair. Mass hysteria spread, and individuals began to question their integrity.
Do you confess to something you didn’t do, or do you receive the punishment and maintain your respect?
Unfortunately, we didn’t learn from the Mc. Carthy era. Mass hysteria continues and we still point our fingers.
Remember 9 -11? How many innocent people were accused for being a terrorist just because the color of their skin?
Remember Columbine? How many innocent students were accused of bomb threats just because of the way they dressed?
Now the story
The story is based on true events, and court documents. However, some of the story has been changed for dramatic effect.
In the story, Abigail Williams used to work for John Proctor’s family. She was their maid.
In the story, Abigail Williams is portrayed as 18 years old and John Proctor is portrayed as a man in his 30’s.
Throughout the script, there are several references that indicate that these two had an affair.
In real life, Abigail was 11 years old, and John Proctor was in his 60’s.
We don’t know if these two really participated in an affair. What we do know is that in the story, Abigail Williams wants to be with John Proctor.
We also know that John Proctor is married with two children.
What starts as a story of teenage love, soon turns into a story of revenge.
A story of accusations.
A story about saving yourself.
Welcome to The Crucible.