In ‘The Crucible’, Arthur Miller raises many themes that are relevant today. Using one Act explain how these themes are explored through character and action. In 1692 in Salem Village, Massachusetts, ten teen-age girls claimed that the Reverend Samuel Parris’s West Indian slave, Tituba, and two old women of the town had bewitched them. Within six months, 36 were hanged, and one was pressed to death with rocks, presumably because of their connections with Lucifer.
Two hundred and sixty years later, in the United States there was another wave of fear that resulted in the imprisonment, loss of income, and even suicide of a number of Americans, on the testimony of a few who alleged that the accused persons were agents or dupes of the international Communist conspiracy. These few were not teen-age girls, but supposedly responsible, public- minded politicians supported by ordinary citizens in society. This period was known as the McCarthy Era after Senator Joseph McCarthy (1909-1957), a leader of Communism. Arthur Miller, one of the country’s most prominent playwrights, saw a similarity between the communist hunt of
the 1950’s and the witch-hunt of 1692. Prompted by his view, he wrote ‘The Crucible’. Despite the 17th-century setting of the play, it can be judged both as historical drama and as a criticism of society at that time. Arthur Miller’s intention in writing ‘The Crucible’ was to show the similarities of Salem in 1692 and the United States in the mid-1950’s when the anti- communist hysteria had reached its greatest pitch. There is no doubt that there are similarities between the two periods.
During the McCarthy era it was considered honorable (at least by some) to accuse someone of communist association and almost as honorable to confess to such an accusation, even when the evidence was woefully insubstantial. In some cases, merely to be accused was often equivalent to establishing guilt, and men were often fired from their jobs before their cases had been tried. Justice was abused in the name of law, and good people, seeing this, were afraid, and ashamed. To defend the accused led to guilt by association with them. It was against people’s principles not to defend them.
You could argue that people genuinely feared the threat of communism and therefore simply saw it as doing their duty to accuse them of so-called communist activities. Just as in Salem, hysteria and Justice were the problems. The girls where accusing other people in the village of witchcraft, they were abusing Justice. Abigail tried to use her powers of being able to accuse people of witchcraft to get to John Procter. She did this by accusing Elizabeth (John Procter wife) of witchcraft. The accused would rather be hanged than ‘Baden’ their name. Miller himself was found to be communist and had to appear before the house of Un-American activities.
There was a real threat to writers, artists and filmmakers – they were often blacklisted and therefore unable to get work. Arthur Miller was born on 17 October 1915 in New York City. Miller Graduated from high school in 1932 there was no money to send him to university. He took various jobs to earn money to go to college . A ‘Crucible’ is an earthen pot for melting metals. Arthur Miller’s play is about the early European settlers on the east coast of America trying to establish a new home for themselves after fleeing from religious persecution in Europe.
They are a very mixed lot, from all kinds of backgrounds, put together into the ‘melting pot’. The melting pot is also seen by some as the means by which we reduce something to a purer form. So, the witch-hunters might be seen as pursuing the hunt for purity and putting the people into the melting pot to make them purer. The importance name in ‘The Crucible’ Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Arthur Miller section.