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The Crucible Arthur Miller is one of the most famous American playwrights. Despite the fact that Death of a Salesman is considered the work that made him world-famous, The Crucible was undeservedly forgotten by the public. The Crucible was designed as a historic drama based on historically refracted reflections of the real events, - the witch trial of 1692 in Salem, one of the most fanatical centers of Puritanism, - that is whimsically connected with McCarthy period. The spectrum of emotional tones, varying from tragic to comic, is presented to the audience as a food for thought on different vital topics. Arthur Millers play combines the knowledge of social realities and deep understanding of all-too-human foibles.
The Crucible, actually, continues Millers weakness for the intertwining of realities. The play is rich in social and philosophic context. It is no coincidence that The Crucible was written in 1953, during the McCarthy period. It is very important to understand the historical context of the play, because Arthur Miller was concerned not only with the details of witch trials in Salem, but, what is even more intriguing, he was concerned with the events in America during the McCarthy period. It was the period, when Joseph McCarthy, the U. S.
Senator was afraid of Communists and launched a campaign against them. As this took place, Arthur Miller was ordered to present his apologies for his interest in Marxism (Bloom 6). When he was brought to the House Committee of UN-American Activities, he refused to obey the order and appeared before the court, where he got a suspended prison sentence. Miller appeal against the court's decision and the court allowed his appeal. This incident occurred not long before The Crucible appeared. As we will further explore, this incident is definitely relevant to the chain of events in The Crucible.
So, lets examine the play more thoroughly. The Crucible consists of three acts. It takes place in Salem (Massachusetts) in the 17 th century. The events occur in the house of Reverend Samuel Parris, who sits near the bed of his daughter Betty.
He found his daughter dancing like heathen in the forest (Miller 23) together with her friends Mary Warren, Abigail, Ruth, Mercy and Tituba. When she saw her father, she exclaimed that she saw Tituba and heard a screeching and gibberish coming from her mouth. She were swaying like a dumb beast over that fire!" (Miller 24) and has fallen into trance with these words. Samuel Parris wants to find out what happened and asks for the cause of the girls sudden disease. Doctor Guides supposes that witches, probably, could be the cause.
In such a manner the play begins, filling the atmosphere with guilt and fear. The inhabitants of the village consider that the Devil is somewhere near and want him out. Logically, the only way to drive out the Devil is to force the girls to admit and confess about their sins. At the same time Reverend Samuel is afraid that people can accuse his daughter of witchcraft, because his neighbors start inquiring into Betty's weird disease and assure each other that the Devils touch is heavier than sick (Miller 31).
At the same time, Abigail and John Proctor talk to each other concerning their love. Abigail wants to hear that John Proctor loves her, but he doesnt want to have anything in common with Abigail, because he is afraid of the recent rumors that Abigail is involved in witchcraft. As this takes place, Reverend John Hale comes from Beverly with a strong intention to drive out the demons from Salem. Reverend Samuel assist Reverend John Hale in doing this to ensure nobody will suspect him and his family being involved in the matter of witchcraft. Reverend John Hale talks to Betty and, finally, Betty, Abigail and Tituba confess in their involvement with the witches and spirits.
The girls give the names of other people they saw there. The witch-hunt begins. Elizabeth, the wife of John Proctor tells him that he has to betray Abigail and turn her into the court. Firstly John refused to do this, but, when his servant Mary Warren tells that it was Abigail who accused his wife of being the witch, John finally agrees to speak with Abigail. The witch hunt continues followed by the visits of Reverend Hale, who questions and inquires about the religious beliefs and ritual practices of Salem's inhabitants.
At the same time Abigail was elevated to sainthood, - Where she walks the crowd will part like the sea for Israel. And folks are brought before them, and if they scream and howl and fall to the floor the person's clapped in jail for bewitching' them. (Miller 47) Chaos bursts out in the court, as nobody wants to be accused of witchcraft. People starts telling names and accusing each other. The men come to John Proctors house and arrest his wife. John Proctor arrives to the court and wants to save his wife. He asks his servant Mary to give the testimony that the girls were lying.
The court asks the girls to come for questioning. Abigail pretends she is suffering in the cause of justice and claims that Mary is lying, while she is telling the truth. Rebecca is the next victim. She is accused of being guilty for the supernatural murder of the babies. Hale claims that if Rebecca is guilty, "then nothing is left to stop the whole green world from burning" (Miller 120). People are afraid of everything.
The judges cannot believe that people may be just afraid of the court, and if it is true, there can be only one explanation: There is fear in the country because there is a moving plot to topple Christ in the country! (Miller 136) Proctor tries to prove that he came to save his wife, but not to overthrow the court. He is a reputable person who loves his wife and stands upon his rights and dignity. In order to save his wife John has to confess that he was infidel to her: "A man will not cast away his good name. You surely know that... I have made a bell of my honor! I have rung the doom of my good name" (Miller 149).
The court brings Elizabeth for questioning but the woman denies that her husband betrayed her and does everything to save his good name. Further the girls start screaming and Mary accuses Proctor by telling that he is the evil one. The court arrests Proctor, who shouts in despair: God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!" (Miller 150) Reverend Hale leaves the court. Not long after the executions should occur. Reverend Parris asks to delay the hangings, but Danford refuses. Reverend Hale doesnt leave hope to force the accused people to confess of their sins.
He also speaks to Elizabeth and asks her to turn a blind eye to her pride in order to save the life. She agrees to talk to her husband. Finally, when Proctor was about to be hanged, his wife tells that John has his goodness now; he keeps his good name and walks to his death. Miller is notable for his acute social eyesight and active civil position. No doubts that The Crucible is the fruit of a hard work of the playwright.
It demonstrated Millers unsurpassed talent, inspiration, ability to feel compassion and sympathy to the main characters, the originality of his literary style, psychological insight, and sense of humor. The main character is a complex, many-sided personality. We can even draw the parallel between Arthur Miller and Proctor within the context of the events during the McCarthy period. Works Cited Bloom, Harold.
Crucible. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1999. Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Penguin Classics, 2003.
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