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on July 11, 2003
The play's main narrative line tells the story of the Salem witch hunts which took place in Massachusetts, 1692. At a deeper level, Miller raises several powerful and important questions about human life and morality. But the play's most amazing quality is that it is not "deep" or "philosophical" by traditional standards. Miller has, in a short and easy-to-read manuscript, opened the door (or maybe I should say he presents the reader with a mirror) to modern political life.
The play is essentially a crtique of McCarthyism and the the communist scare of the 1950s. Miller saw the parallels between the witch hunts and the McCarthy trials, and found the witch trials to be a compelling vehicle for discussing modern events. Key themes include:
1. People gaining absolution from the powers-that-be by confessing the sins of others.
2. The power of community rituals, such as confession.
3. The role of political opposition and the consequences of compliance (passive or active).
4. The consequences of a polarized world views and mass hysteria.
These are just a few of the themes. The play is quite clearly a great tragedy, but remains a tragedy for our times. Through characters we can connect with, Miller convincingly shows us that the lessons from the witch hunts still apply. As a reader, I am convinced that Miller's play remains relevant and powerful in the twenty-first century. Miller has left me with questions, regarding world events in 2002 and 2003, that I did not have before reading the play.
I read this play in only a couple hours. It is compelling, engaging, and difficult to put down. Personally, I feel this text stands a great chance of making it onto my "top ten" list of best manuscripts. I highly recommend this play.
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on April 25, 2001
Using the historical and controversial subject of the Salen Witch Trials, Arthur Miller's play The Crucible presents an allegory for events in contemporary America. Miller's play employs these historical events to criticize the moments in humankind's history when reason and fact became clouded by irrational fears and the desire to place blame for society's problems on others. The play deals with the corrupted town of Salem, Massachusettes, in 1692. John proctor, a blunt, out-spoken farmer and the play's central character, gets caught up in a conspiracy not even his own stength can control when his ex-lover, Abigail, throws false accusations in his wife's direction. As Proctor tries to free his wife and prove all others also accused of withcraft innocent, he finds himself being accused as well. This play is a story of vengeance; one man stands in a tug-of-war battle between God and Satan, pride and damnation, and good and evil. It all leads up to a climactic ending in which one lost soul finds peace with himself and realizes the importance of one's integrity.
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Certainly Arthur Miller's The Crucible is a social play. Miller dramatically represents "the way men ought to live," a life of moderation. Social plays, according to Miller, must not destroy he who becomes cognizant as the curtain falls. The Crucible destroys neither Rebecca Nurse, nor John Proctor; this piece destroys those who seek to destroy. The drama is social because man must choose the middle ground; if not he destroys his fellow man. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Miller's play is not merely a parallel to the McCarthy era, but an additional reminder that moderation is the true path in life. Social dramas, as Miller defines, show man the way to live; The Crucible tells man that in order to prosper he must eschew dichotomy. Only he who obstinately clings to the dichotomy of right and wrong and good and evil will truly suffer, while inhibiting man's progress...Arthur Miller's The Crucible is a brilliant social drama. Miller brilliantly accounts that in 1692 and 1953 "the world is gripped between two diametrically opposed absolutes"(Miller 33). These absolutes are the Devils who haunt Salem, depriving the town of its life. Miller's social drama opens up to man the haunting historical fact that if man should stray from the center, he will destroy his polis, and his fellow man. "The concept of unity, in which positive and negatives are attributes of the same force," Miller elucidates, "in which good and evil are relative, ever-changing, and always joined to the same phenomenon - such a concept is still reserved to the few who have grasped the history of ideas"(Miller 33). Moderation is the key to man's happiness; with dichotomy present, so too is the evil of man.
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on November 25, 2000
While Arthur Miller was more likely known for his most popular play DEATH OF A SALESMAN, which won the Pulitzer Prize as the best play in 1949, THE CRUCIBLE is regarded by many critics to be a much more superior work.
THE CRUCIBLE was written in response to the ridiculous charges made by Senator McCarthy, who accused the Democratic administration of harboring and supporting Communists in the United States Government. Miller wrote the play in 1953, at the same time America was involved in a formidable struggle with the former Soviet Union. America in general had this secret and unexpressed xenophobia of this social-communist power.
Miller had used the famous McCarthy saying in the play - the senator oftained maintained that those who opposed his hearing were Communists, and consequently, any public official who offered criticism, questions, or doubts of the hearings soon found himself defending himself against the charge of being a part of the Communicst conspiracy.
In THE CRUCIBLE, we also found struggle and conflict between the Salem people and the Authority. At a more personal, narrower level, this conflict exists between John Proctor vs. Reverend Parris. John Proctor was a local member of the church who had opposed and challenged many of Parris' unnecessary expenditures. Like those who dared the power of the government and questioned authority of hearings back in 1950s here in America, anyone who opposed the authority of the Salem judges was automatically suspected of trying to undermine the court in the 17th century.
Besides McCarthyism at the time when the play was written, THE CRUCIBLE reflected so much the concepts of Puritanism back in the 17th century. The unusual nature of the Puritan religion led to all kinds of and different levels of fear of witches and persecution. Puritans, like the authority in THE CRUCIBLE, deeply felt that their way of life was absolutely right and all other ways were wrong. Therefore, Puritans believed that government should be totally controlled by the church.
THE CRUCIBLE is an authentic examination of the Puritan Age of America. It was written at the time when McCarthyism outburtsed and people lived in hysteria. It served to parallel the Salem Witch0hunt which brought about fear and persecution some 300 years ago. Interesting play. Fun to read.
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on September 11, 2002
This concise and well-crafted play takes a look at the singularly dark and surprisingly medieval events of the Salem witch trails. The play was written by Arthur Miller, the acclaimed American playwright from Michigan and one-time husband of movie icon Marilyn Monroe. All other accounts of this story tend to suffer by comparison to Miller's. His characters (most or all were real people in the actual event) are convincing and the language believable and tight. The story recounts the events, the awful trials and the subsequent "justice" administered on those concerned. Theories since have suggested voodoo, ergot poisoning, land-grabbing, religous fervor, blatant evil, lust and superstitious ignorance as possible explanations for the events -- but Millers account seems as reasonable an account as any and better than most. Having read this play at school and seen it performed live, I must admit that I preferred reading it to watching it, although I saw a rather unusual contemporary version. "A fart on you Thomas Putnam"!
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on September 17, 2000
The Crucible is as twisted a story as any that I've read before. In the late 15th century, Salem, Massachusetts was in the form of a theocracy, which stirred up conflict between government leaders and citizens as well as citizen vs. citizen battles. Witchcraft was the big talk of this play because it played such a huge role in the vast number of trials and executions. When you begin to take in the information of the text, you see that witchcraft became a way that any citizen of Salem could blame their enemies just to have them killed. Several small groups of people (factions) who fought over such topics as land and governmental positions would accuse their opponents of witchcraft and in many cases it would result in imprisonment or death. Examples of battles between two people are Abby and Elizabeth Proctor who fought over John Proctor and Putnam and Francis Nurse, who were in a dispute because Nurse beat out Putnam's brother-in-law to become a member of Salem's ministry. Even though this play may not be historically accurate, it made me realize exactly what was going on in the world 300 years ago and make me appreciate the United States' government today.
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on March 28, 2004
The subject of witchcraft has always intrigued me. Unfortunately this play did not keep my interest. The biggest reason was because the introduction, written by Christopher Bigsby, gave away the ending of the play. He said that damages were paid to John Proctor's wife Elisabeth after he was executed on August 19,1692. I know the play was for the most part historically accurate. I just didn't understand why he needed to state the anticipated ending of the play on the book on the second page of the book. The rest of the introduction was interesting. I liked how he compared the fear the people in Salem had of witches to the Red Scare. He said the only difference was that communists were real. This analogy helped me to relate the ridiculous fear these people had of withes to something tangible. The play itself was less exciting than I thought it would be. It was a little hard to follow. There were many characters and many things going on at once. I didn't like how there wasn't a single character who you felt like you could relate to. I liked how throughout the play you couldn't help but have a sense of disbelief about what was going on. I was amazed that the people of Salem so easily believed children without proof. It was unbelievable how by simply telling a judge that you saw a person with the devil they were guilty until proven innocent. I gave this play three stars because it was a good story. It wasn't the best book I have ever read, but I think it was more me than the book that was the problem. I would suggest reading the play before reading the introduction.
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on September 11, 2000
"The Crucible" was a play that I could really get into. It was very easy for me to visualize the events through Miller's writing. Miller did a very good job of developing the characters. Such characters as Abigail were successfully portrayed as evil. She was corrupt, adulterous, immoral, a liar, and a murderer. Her lies led to the deaths of a number of innocent men and women. On the other hand I was really uplifted by Proctor's character. He was a "good guy" that didn't exemplify the qualities of what most protagonists have. The hero of a story shouldn't be innocent and perfect with no faults as heroes are portrayed in many Disney movies. Proctor made mistakes (his affair with Abigail), isn't a devout Puritan (often skips Church, plows on the Sabbath, and doesn't know ALL the commandments), and he tells it like it is. When questioned about his faith, he tells Hale that the church is corrupt and that he disagrees with Reverend Parris. He well exemplifies a man with good morals, who is sorry for his sins. He dies with dignity. He was smart and knew that the witchhunt was a farce. He knows that he will get his reward in heaven. I believe that despite he didn't fit the qualifications of a prince charming, John Proctor was the hero of "The Crucible."
I think that Miller did a very good job of linking the Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s to the Communist Red Scare of the 1950s. Both situations had formidable outside tribes that caused paranoia and trepidation. More than just the factual similarities, Miller is able to go deeper into how people should have reacted. He condemns those who join the bandwagon and try to destroy the heathens or outsiders. Instead he wants us to act as Proctor did and to identify that the chaos is just a farce. He wants us to keep composed and moderate. This play teaches us to look at our own conscience rather than our social status.
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on January 15, 2004
The small town of Salem is devastated to find out that its own young and charming women in the town are witches of the black art. This story starts out simply enough, in the village pastor's house. His daughter has been odd lately and doctors and such have come to see if they can help the girl with her problems. They soon realize they are dealing with something far more evil then any disease. I personally hate reading unless I have to, but this book had a certain something to it that pulled me right in. Perhaps it was the relationship you develop out of sympathy for the townsmen and their women. Maybe it's curiosity of who will be accused of witchcraft next. Whatever the case, I simply couldn't put down that book. The Crucible is a play and is written in the format of a play. This can pose a problem to someone who doesn't read a lot of literature, or is confused easily. In the beginning of the story the characters run in and out of the scenes so quickly and with little more then mentioning their name. So some might completely forget who entire families are until they are brought back to you later on in the story. Either that or you'll have to go back and read everything again just to make yourself sure you know who they are. I did. Other than the difficulty I experienced following who was who in the beginning. I found myself trapped in this book, and had to find out what happened in the ending. This book is very difficult to read, but if you can make it through the first couple of chapters, this will be one of your favorite books. It is very well written and definitely worth checking out even if you are only moderately interested in these kinds of books. I give it two thumbs up!
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on June 13, 2002
Review on „The Crucible"
The movie is about the witch trial that took place in a village called Salem. Several people were accused of making compact with the devil and for committing witchcraft, a capital crime in those days. The reason for the mass hysteria was the fact that some of the girls in the village practised dancing in the woods with the Negro-slave of the town's minister who saw them doing that. They danced around a burning fire and drank blood. Two of the girls fell ill and in fear of the consequences the other ones accused each other. A major character in that context was Abigail Williams. She also accused the wife of John Proctor, a farmer, who she had had sexual interferences with. Several other people were accused and in the end, 19 were hanged.
The movie is about mass hysteria and the unscrupulous behaviour of people who get in trouble.
In my view the movie on "The Crucible" is very good. The producers knew how to create tension very well. The best part in the movie was - from my point of view - the scene when Elizabeth Proctor was led to court to tell Governor the truth about her husband committing the crime of adultery. The music was very dramatic and the excitement rose when the group of people went outside to hear John Proctor.
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