With close reference to three or more key moments from ‘The Crucible’ discuss how Millers writing is both dramatic and relevant to a modern audience Arthur Miller was born in New York in 1915 and has written many successful books and plays. ‘The Crucible’ was one of the major plays of the 20th century and was written by him in response to the anti-communist hearings made by Senator Joe McCarthy. Arthur Miller himself was called before the American Congress Committee in 1956 and found himself in much the same dilemma as John Proctor.
He was asked for a list of people who had attended a former meeting. He denied to produce a list and was fined for contempt of congress. ‘The Crucible’ is a play about a love lost teenager (Abigail) who is rejected by the married man she is in love with (John Proctor). In her revenge she aims to win him over but instead rips up the rigid structure of Salem and fans a complex society into an ignorant hysteria. Ironically, the one she aims to get back, John Proctor, is hanged.
I believe that ‘The Crucible’ is relevant to a modern audience because of the McCarthy hearings that were taking place at the time, and many other events in history since then that have occurred, ones in which groups of human beings are persecuted for there race, religion, or political beliefs; such as the holocaust. The McCarthy hearings were in response to irrational fear of communism and the Salem witch trials were in response to irrational fear of witches. But in reality, it was fear of people different from them. One strong theme that is contained in ‘The Crucible’ is the idea of conformity, which the audience can draw parallels to.
In ‘The Crucible’, the need for the characters to conform to the rules of the church and that of its minister are evident. They find themselves in a very difficult situation: they must either turn their backs on what they believe in and lie by admitting to having “had relations with the devil” and conform to the churches standards or they must follow there individual beliefs and refuse to lie. The audience can relate to this because they find themselves in situations like this everyday, Miller makes the audience decide where they would draw the line.
Was a person “bad” if they didn’t live by the rules of the Catholic Church? Or was it all right for an individual to have there own interpretation of these rules? ‘The Crucible’ attacks the poor balance of power we are surrounded by in society today. We are shown how much affect a single entity can have on a society, if they define what beliefs people live by. During the Salem witch trials, religion was the answer to everything that people didn’t understand. Therefore ministers and priests were the only ones who were “qualified” to interpret the rules of religion and God.
Nobody could have been more powerful than them in Salem, as nobody would dare question the voice of God. To this very day, many people are afraid to question the views of there religion. For example the Catholic Churches views on abortion. The story illustrates how peoples react to mass hysteria, as people did in the McCarthy hearings during the 1950’s. Many Americans were wrongly accused of being communist or communist sympathisers just as the early English settlers were accused of being witches or being involved with witchcraft.
Throughout the play it is evident that the society is becoming increasingly more divided, with the ‘social outcasts’ being picked off first, and then individuals getting revenge: Abigail trying to get John Proctor back and arguments over land between villagers. They start to use it as a personal form of disposing of people they don’t like, shrouded under the excuse of performing Gods work. After living in a society with such high religious beliefs and rigid rules it is a vent for lots of pent up anger collected over the years that cant, under normal circumstances, be show.