Martin Classroom Issues and Strategies Written and first produced for the drama season in New York, The Crucible continues to interest students for its witchcraft theme and setting in Salem and for its more recent political association as a historical parable against the dangers of McCarthyism. While the latter issue has generally faded in the public mind, it was very much the issue when the play opened.
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.
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible may not be the playwright’s masterwork, but it remains as one of the most popular production pieces in the United States, and has served companies from the professional level to high schools. The original production opened at the Martin Beck Theater on January 22, Arthur Miller and the Red Scare When The Crucible premiered on Broadway in , the country was in the midst of troubling and frightening period known as McCarthyism, or the Red Scare, which directly informed the play. A Teacher’s Guide to The Crucible by Arthur Miller 3 INTRODUCTION When Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in , his intent was to hold a mirror to his own society, deeply embroiled in the hysteria of the McCarthy era. The play’s setting, the
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.Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, – February 10, ) was an American playwright, essayist, and a figure in the twentieth-century American theater.
Among his most popular plays are All My Sons (), Death of a Salesman (), The Crucible () and A View from the Bridge (, revised ). More Essay Examples on Arthur Miller Rubric. Already have an Essay or Paper?
Use our free Online Plagiarism Checker to learn how unique is your essay. Arthur Miller was born on October 17, in Manhattan, New York. Biographical Arthur Miller was a controversial playwright during the ’s and 60’s, note because of the material that he choose to write about, but because of the events that took place surrounding one of his best works: The Crucible.
Interestingly, in the notebook Arthur Miller started at this time, he noted that “It must be ‘tragic’” and, when The Crucible opened in New York, in , he remarked, “Salem is one of the few dramas in history with a beginning, a middle and an end.”/5(2).
Arthur Miller and the Red Scare When The Crucible premiered on Broadway in , the country was in the midst of troubling and frightening period known as McCarthyism, or the Red Scare, which directly informed the play. Playwright Arthur Miller Refused Visa For a Visit to Brussels to See His Play () The State Department denied a passport to Miller, citing regulations denying passports to persons believed to be supporting the Communist movement, whether or not they are members of the Communist party.