Social Criticism in Arthur Miller's The Crucible
The Crucible, a play written by Arthur Miller, is a chronological narrative including a large cast of characters with a constantly moving setting.* The Crucible is a dramatization of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and an allegory of the McCarthyism period. Throughout the play, Miller explores the destruction of freedom by the ignorant and tyrannical society in which his characters live.* By exhibiting how easily a member of the community can become an outcast, Arthur Miller displays social criticism in the Puritan society as well as in today's society in The Crucible.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, communism was a major threat to the United ...view middle of the document...
* These trials and prosecutions were brought about because of the superstitions of the members of society. The witch trials thrived on accusations, which were the only way that witches could be identified, and confessions, which not many people chose to do.* Two historians, Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, determined that most of the accusers of witchcraft lived on the west side of Salem Village, while most defendants and accused witches lived on the east.* This discovery shows the separation of society at that time.
Puritanism was the major religious belief in Salem in 1692. Puritanism is the belief and practice of very strict moral and religious values about the proper way to live and behave.* Puritanism did not allow the members of society to celebrate Christmas and if they were given a holiday off from work, they were to focus even more on their prayer lives. Young girls at this time were given little to no freedom. They were expected to walk straight, arms by their sides, eyes looking down, and were to never speak unless spoken to.* In The Crucible, as a way of rebelling against their constricting lifestyle, girls would play pranks such as dancing in the woods, listening to stories of Tituba, and pretending to be bewitched by other villagers.*
Social criticism refers to the faults and flaws that people view in various aspects of society.* Throughout The Crucible, many characters are persecuted because their actions may be seen as unusual or against Puritan beliefs. For example, reading or writing books of any sort is against the strict beliefs of the Puritans.* Giles Corey, an elderly farmer, is suspicious of his wife being a witch because he often sees her in the corner reading books. This example shows how witchcraft runs the lives of the characters. Abigail Williams, the niece of Reverend Parris, often accuses other women in the village of witchcraft because she has a sense of her own guilt and a desire to cover up her affair with John Proctor, her dancing in the woods, and drinking of blood to kill Goody Proctor.*
The Crucible is a play that makes it clear to the audience that the identity of a character is more important and precious than survival. "As the hysteria spreads, the townspeople turn on one another, profiting from their neighbors' misfortunes, wreaking vengeance for real or imagined grievances, substituting spite and fear for love and trust."* The cast of characters is always found to be concerned with their own survival and act savagely when they fear of being accused. Throughout...