Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"
'The Crucible' was written in 1952 by the twentieth century American
playwright Arthur Miller (1915-.) Miller was born in New York and
educated at the University of Michigan where he began to write plays.
Most of Miller's plays are set in contemporary America and on the
whole offer a realistic portrayal of life and society and the theme of
self-realization is re-current e.g. John Proctor in 'The Crucible'.
'The Crucible' was the third play Miller wrote. It is a play about the
Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts. It was used
as a parable for McCarthyism in America in the 1950s. Miller's play
'The Crucible' has recently been made into a hugely successful film
that stars Hollywood actress Winona Ryder showing its enduring themes.
The play concentrates on key figures of the trials: Abigail Williams,
Mary Warren, John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor and Reverend Samuel
Parris. These were all real people trapped in the devastation of the
The disturbing storyline powerfully depicts people under pressure and
certain issues involved, Senator Joseph McCarthy; an important figure
in the USA in the 1950's is mentioned somewhat in 'The Crucible.' For
instance; a certain similarity between the Salem Witchcraft Trials and
McCarthyism was the fact that they both failed to make a plausible
case against anyone, both their colourful and cleverly presented
accusations drove people out of their jobs (and in 'The Crucible') and
their towns and brought popular condemnation to others. The
persecution of innocent souls is apparent in both Senator Joseph
McCarthy's work and of 'The Crucible.' McCarthyism was when all left
wing views were arraigned for un-American activities during the 1950s.
'The Crucible' has much strength, its main and most imminent being its
deeper meaning relating to America in the 1950s. The play explores the
themes of witchcraft, the struggle between good and evil and a fear of
At the end of Act One Reverend Hale of Beverly, an authorative on
witchcraft arrives at Reverend Parris's house. He is trying to awaken
Betty from her bed, as she has not woken since Parris caught Betty and
some other girls from the wood with Tituba, Parris's Negro slave. The
atmosphere is tense due to the fact the scene is taking place in the
dark, upstairs room of Betty's bedroom. Its homely state and the close
proximity of the characters add suspense and tension.
The locals have no explanation for Betty's behaviour other than that
she is bewitched. More local disturbances were likely to be blamed on
witchcraft, and the hunt for witches began. The community in Salem was
all Puritan settlers who had fled from persecution in England and
hoped to have found a city of souls. The town was deeply religious as
a result of a close relationship between the church and the law, it
was, in fact a theocracy. Betty's supposed bewitching would have