The Crucible Essay

2715 words - 11 pages

GumanganArna Alyssa GumanganMrs. Robyn SwarthoutAP Language/Composition13 August 2014The CrucibleBibliographical entry MLA style:Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Viking Penguin, 1953. Print.Brief author biography:Arthur Miller was an American playwright whose biting criticism of societal problems defined his genius. Born in Harlem, New York, in October 17, 1915, Miller attended the University of Michigan before moving back east to produce plays for the stage. His first critical and popular success was Death of a Salesman, which opened on Broadway in 1949. Like most classics, The Crucible is a dramatic exploration of historical events. The Crucible, which premiered in 1953, is a fictionalization of the Salem witch-hunts of 1692, but it also deals in an allegorical manner with the House Un-American Activities Committee and the "witch hunt" for communists during the early 1950's. In a note to the play, Miller writes, "A political policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence." Although the dialogue has been fabricated, many of the lines were inspired from the actual court documents from 1692. When Arthur Miller finished The Crucible, the United States was embroiled in the post-World War II Red Scare, bolstered and spearheaded by the fiery Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy began to rule America's conscious with an iron fist, weeding out accused communists with his extensive use of the House Un-American Activities Committee to condemn Nazi sympathizers in World War II. McCarthy's primary tactic of control was fear; fear fed by the dangerous power of unfounded accusations, secret evidence and testimony, and unfair trial practices. In making the play, what interested Miller was not the singular effect of one man launching a series of calculated, efficient attacks on an idea, but rather how the American people themselves began to revel in the fear which was being used to rule their minds. Dealing as it did with highly charged current events, the play received unfavorable reviews and Miller was cold-shouldered by many colleagues. As a Jewish man, Miller was a political advocate against the inequalities of race in America, and he was vocal in his support of labor and the unions. Because he was such an outspoken critic in these two areas, he was a prime target for Senator Joseph McCarthy and others who were on a mission to rid the country of Communism. Miller was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities because of his connections to these issues but refused to condemn any of his friends. This experience, a rather blind and sweeping condemnation of anything even remotely connected to Communism without sufficient evidence, is what prompted him to write about the Salem Witch Trials. For nearly six decades, Miller has been creating characters that wrestle with power conflicts, personal and social responsibility, the repercussions of past actions, and the twin poles of guilt and hope. In his writing and in...

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