Arthur Millers, The Crucible, was first written in 1952 and produced in 1953. The play was based on the events surrounding the witch trials in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts. Miller wrote about the event as an allegory for McCarthyism. McCarthyism is a term named after Senator Joseph McCarthy, who was the leader of anti-communist suspicion which occurred in the United States in the 1950's during which Arthur Miller was questioned himself in 1956. The Crucible has many dramatic twists and turns in it, which shows the effects of what a person who abuses their power can do, and people who follow and listen to people with power without questioning their actions.
In the first few pages of The Crucible, Miller grabs the attention of the audience straight away by using language as a device. This is to create a confused mood. He does this by creating this mysterious illness that the audience are intrigued by. Which makes them interested from the start of the play. As the characters start to question the illness and start thinking of 'unnatural causes', Miller is showing a society where rumour can spread and be believed as fact. This is because the people of Salem are highly influenced by whoever is in power, as they are persecuted for standing out and having their own opinions.
Just like 1950's America, as McCarthy had the power to influence his listeners to being scared of communism and communists, just like the people of Salem where frightened of witchcraft and witches.
Though I am going to focus on Act Three, this is when John Proctor takes his housemaid Mary Warren to the courtroom to tell he court that the girls are all lying and it is all a farce. John Proctor needs to get this information out in the open to secure the freedom of his wife, Elizabeth Proctor, but Abigail uses manipulation to trash the rumours of lies and fakes that Mary Warren has a sent an 'evil spirit' in the shape of a yellow bird to get the girls, soon enough all the girls in the courtroom see this yellow bird too.
This scene shows how powerful Abigail actually is, she has been frightened by the fact that Mary Warren has tried to come clean, but she fights back, coming out stronger and more powerful than before. She knows this too, and uses it to her advantage by making out Mary Warren to be a liar. She only has her power through fear of her, this links in with the McCarthy period in America, as because she is a powerful figure through fear, like Joseph McCarthy, people who are scared of them, so they follow them without questioning, and people who do oppose to what they are saying are seen as evil and are condemned.
Miller is purposely putting this in here to warn people of the dangers of following the crowd and not standing up for your own beliefs; as if less people follow the more people who abuse their power will fall.
This part of the play is also very gripping to watch, as it suggests fear which creates a sense on action on the stage, as there is lots of movement and energy happening here. As at the start of the scene Proctor was confident and had power, though with Abigail making more lies, she regains the power and in the stage directions, he is shown as 'trembling' which is kind of showing that Proctors life is collapsing about him, like an earthquake he is trembling and everything is crashing down.
Though Proctor may have been shown to lose the little power he had here, it is still ironic that he has a powerful effect still on Abigail, while she has an effect over the other girls, this is like there are under one another's spell, which is kind of resembling witchcraft.
The characters in the crucible have little depth or background, as Miller doesn't tell us about the past of the characters, and what there past might show us about that character, as we just have to go on what we already know. A director might want to show more background to the characters if they were doing an interpretation of the play, they could show Proctor as a wicked character who like the attention the girls seem to give him, or could portray him as a pure character that pushes the girls away.
I have also chosen to look at the ending of the play, at the end of Act Four, this is when John Proctor has been forced to confess to save his life, but he couldn't live with knowing his life ws a lie, so John Proctor rips up the confession, even though he would be hung on account of witchcraft. He is showing that he will give up his life for the greater good. When he rips up the confession it shows that he has proven to Elizabeth that he is a good man, and she has forgiven him.
The play finishes with John Proctor being hung, Miller has used a very dramatic ending to end the crucible with, though it tells us at the end that after John Proctors death, the allegations of witchcraft started to be questioned by more and more people, which meant it died down, Miller is using this to show 1950's America that if one person stands up, then others will to, and begin to question McCarthy and McCarthyism, and people will see that its not right. We are shown at the end that despite Proctors sins, that he couldn't live a lie, so he would rather die sin free.
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