Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"
'The Crucible' was written by Arthur Miller. Arthur Miller was brought
before a committee in 1956 to answer charges of 'communist sympathy'
and to name the people he had had meetings with up to twenty years
before. Liberal writer, film directors, actors and actresses were all
called before the committee. The committee often had lists of names of
people who had attended meetings yet they still forced witnesses to
recite names, to see if they would comply and give the right names.
This action and others performed by the committee lead Arthur miller
to associate his treatment and the treatment of others with the
witchcraft trails that had taken place in Salem, Massachusetts, USA,
two centuries before. He felt as if it was a historical parallel and
in a sense history was repeating itself.
Act 1 begins with a simplistic scene. A small room, a narrow leaded
window to the left- sunlight streaming through. A candle burning next
to a bed to the right of the room. The only furniture: a chest, a
chair and a small table. A very minimal room which links in with the
very disciplined, forbidding, severe way of life that the Puritans
followed. From the setting it is obvious the play is not set in
In this sparsely furnished room, a man is kneeling beside the bed,
praying over a small child. The impression all is not well is given
away by the fact that the child is very still, as if in a deep sleep,
even though it is evident that it is daytime. Even before any dialog
has begun the audience is already apprehensive, as they are able to
sense the tension in the air.
As Tituba enter, she does not say anything that the audience has not
already deducted from the scene that they have already seen. She
clarifies the child, Betty, is seriously ill. Abigail enters the
scene; she is entrancingly beautiful, the audience recognises that her
beauty could be used to her advantage, to manipulate.
Within the first few minutes of the dialog, unnatural causes for
Betty's illness are mentioned. The audience is automatically compelled
and prepares for a bewitching play. As this is going on, Parris,
Betty's father, becomes very secretive about the causes of betty's
illness, and the audience associated Parris with a man who is very
conscious of his reputation, and what other people think, and have to
say about him, and also one of the leading roles. Abigail reveals
there have been rumours of witchcraft, the audience becomes more and
more enthralled and fascinated by what is going on.
From the beginning it is apparent to the audience that Abigail is
lying to her uncle, and at times it is even blatant. She delivers