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Table of Contents Context Early in the yearin the small Massachusetts village of Salem, a collection of girls fell ill, falling victim to hallucinations and seizures. In extremely religious Puritan New England, frightening or surprising occurrences were often attributed to the devil or his cohorts.
The unfathomable sickness spurred fears of witchcraft, and it was not long before the girls, and then many other residents of Salem, began to accuse other villagers of consorting with devils and casting spells. Old grudges and jealousies spilled out into the open, fueling the atmosphere of hysteria.
The Massachusetts government and judicial system, heavily influenced by religion, rolled into action. Within a few weeks, dozens of people were in jail on charges of witchcraft. By the time the fever had run its course, in late Augustnineteen people and two dogs had been convicted and hanged for witchcraft.
His career as a playwright began while he was a student at the University of Michigan. Several of his early works won prizes, and during his senior year, the Federal Theatre Project in Detroit performed one of his works.
He produced his first great success, All My Sons, in Two years later, inMiller wrote Death of a Salesman, which won the Pulitzer Prize and transformed Miller into a national sensation. Many critics described Death of a Salesman as the first great American tragedy, and Miller gained an associated eminence as a man who understood the deep essence of the United States.
Drawing on research on the witch trials he had conducted while an undergraduate, Miller composed The Crucible in the early s.
Miller wrote the play during the brief ascendancy of Senator Joseph McCarthy, a demagogue whose vitriolic anti-Communism proved the spark needed to propel the United States into a dramatic and fractious anti-Communist fervor during these first tense years of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
Led by McCarthy, special congressional committees conducted highly controversial investigations intended to root out Communist sympathizers in the United States. As with the alleged witches of Salem, suspected Communists were encouraged to confess and to identify other Red sympathizers as means of escaping punishment.
The policy resulted in a whirlwind of accusations. Some cooperated; others, like Miller, refused to give in to questioning. Those who were revealed, falsely or legitimately, as Communists, and those who refused to incriminate their friends, saw their careers suffer, as they were blacklisted from potential jobs for many years afterward.
At the time of its first performance, in January ofcritics and cast alike perceived The Crucible as a direct attack on McCarthyism the policy of sniffing out Communists. Still, there are difficulties with interpreting The Crucible as a strict allegorical treatment of s McCarthyism. For one thing, there were, as far as one can tell, no actual witches or devil-worshipers in Salem.
However, there were certainly Communists in s America, and many of those who were lionized as victims of McCarthyism at the time, such as the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss a former State Department officialwere later found to have been in the pay of the Soviet Union.
If Miller took unknowing liberties with the facts of his own era, he also played fast and loose with the historical record. Furthermore, his central plot device—the affair between Abigail Williams and John Proctor—has no grounding in fact Proctor was over sixty at the time of the trials, while Abigail was only eleven.
In an odd way, then, The Crucible is best read outside its historical context—not as a perfect allegory for anti-Communism, or as a faithful account of the Salem trials, but as a powerful and timeless depiction of how intolerance and hysteria can intersect and tear a community apart.
In John Proctor, Miller gives the reader a marvelous tragic hero for any time—a flawed figure who finds his moral center just as everything is falling to pieces around him.Complete summary of Arthur Miller's The Crucible. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of The Crucible.
Inspired by the McCarthy hearings of the s, Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, focuses on the inconsistencies of the Salem witch trials and the extreme behavior that can result from dark desires and hidden agendas.
Miller bases the play on the historical account of the Salem witch trials. Witchcraft or witchery broadly means the practice of and belief in magical skills and abilities exercised by solitary practitioners and groups.
Witchcraft is a broad term that varies culturally and societally, and thus can be difficult to define with precision, and cross-cultural assumptions about the meaning or significance of the term should be applied with caution. Introduction. The Crucible is Arthur Miller’s dramatization of the Salem Witch Trials of / Set in Salem, Massachusetts, the play enacts the hysteria and irrational hunt, trial, and execution of innocent people caught up in a personal and superstitious web of accusations.
Arthur Miller is an American playwright who wrote The Crucible in Thus, the play was written on the heels of World War II, which ended in , and was written during a time in which the.
Abigail Williams in The Crucible by Arthur Miller - The Crucible is a powerful and disturbing drama based on a true event from American history: The Salem Witch Trials of