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The place is Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, an enclave of rigid piety huddled on the edge of a wilderness. Its inhabitants believe unquestioningly in their own sanctity. But in Arthur Miller's edgy masterpiece, that very belief will have poisonous consequences when a vengeful teenager accuses a rival of witchcraft-and then when those accusations multiply to consume the entire village. First produced in 1953, at a time when America was convulsed by a new epidemic of witchhunting, The Crucible brilliantly explores the threshold between individual guilt and mass hysteria, personal spite and collective evil. It is a play that is not only relentlessly suspenseful and vastly moving but that compels readers to fathom their hearts and consciences in ways that only the greatest theater ever can. "A drama of emotional power and impact" -New York Post Â
About The Author Arthur Miller was born in New York City in 1915 and studied at the University of Michigan. His plays include All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), A View from the Bridge and A Memory of Two Mondays (1955), After the Fall (1963), Incident at Vichy (1964), The Price (1968), The Creation of the
World and Other Business (1972) and The American Clock. He has also written two novels, Focus (1945), and The Misfits, which was filmed in 1960, and the text for In Russia (1969), Chinese Encounters (1979), and In the Country (1977), three books of photographs by his wife, Inge Morath. More recent works include a memoir, Timebends (1987), and the plays The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991), The Last Yankee (1993), Broken Glass (1993), which won the Olivier Award for Best Play of the London Season, and Mr. Peter's Connections (1998). His latest book is On Politics and the Art of Acting. Miller was granted with the 2001 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He has twice won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and in 1949 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Reviews At once an allegory of the 1950s' anti-communist witch hunts and a spotlight on seventeenth-century witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, this play shows how ignorance and good intentions can interweave to destroy lives. The star-studded cast ratchets the tension to a disturbing level as the town disintegrates. The young girls playing at witchcraft shriek in irregular counterpoint to the quiet, terrifying judgments rendered by Reverend Harris (Michael York), and doubt is ever more audible in the voice of Reverend Hale (Richard Dreyfuss). Most moving is Stacy Keach as John Proctor, who fights to salvage some good from the trials that destroy Salem.
For the last four years I have taught "The Crucible" to high school Juniors using a class set of the Penguin Classics version of the play. Needing more copies, I placed an order for some with my school's librarian. Thinking he'd save money, he bought this version. *It is not the same version of the play.* This version of the play reads more like a script (complete with detailed stage directions and set design/layout) and is better suited for performing the play, not reading it in a classroom setting. Differences: * This play is divided into 2 main Acts, not the original 4 * Miller's commentary and character descriptions are omitted (vital sections if you want to link the play to McCarthyism) * The dialogue is different; certain (sometimes key) lines are omitted. Bottom Line: It's an inferior copy of the play, and it is worth the few extra dollars to buy the other version.
Arthur Miller's The Crucible is a work that successfully connects two different time periods to create a poignant look at reputation and honesty within society. Set in a strict Puritan town in the late 1600s, The Crucible tells the story of John Proctor's fight against deception. The town of Salem, MA is plagued with accounts of witchcraft causing mass hysteria as well as a general distrust amongst neighbors lead by the young Abigail Williams, who manipulates the God-fearing public with claims that many of the citizens are, in fact, partners with the devil. Proctor, Williams' former master, seems invulnerable to the struggle until Williams turns her gaze upon Proctor's wife, Elizabeth, and claims her to be a witch. It is with this allegation that Williams hopes to rid Proctor of Elizabeth and claim him as her own, as the two had a short-lived affair while she was working within his home. Proctor valiantly defends his wife and other innocent citizens in court, but quickly finds his plans for freedom to be foiled as he himself is accused as being a witch. With the promise of death before him, Proctor reflects upon his past sins and finds the determination to defend the honor of his neighbors and himself. The Crucible is a substantial piece in that it speaks out against persecution in society and promotes resistance toward discrimination. This is connected to the 1950s, where fear of Communist factions within the country gripped citizens prompting for "witch hunts" against Communists across the country, leading to general distrust and paranoia. Few were able to stand against the judgmental government, yet some like Miller, Proctor's modern counterpoint, were able to take a stand. It is with such a correlation that shows the importance
of this piece; as a viewpoint against persecution, discrimination, and destruction of reputation inside society, whether it is Puritanical or democratic.
There are many elements in The Crucible and The Grapes of Wrath that relate strongly to the theme denial. In both novels, characters deny others and themselves of much information, and truth. In The Crucible, Elizabeth and the other girls were able to deny the freedom of any person who wronged them. The judge was in denial that innocent children such as themselves could possibly by lying. Furthermore, Hale and the others were in denial of Procter's chosen fate. The Witchcraft Trials are largely a result of denial. In The Grapes of Wrath, the Joad family was traveling to California, the Promised Land, looking for good work. They often heard rumors along the way telling of an over abundance of workers, and how the competition for jobs was incredibly high. Despite the warnings, the joads continued their journey, and upon reaching California, they found that the rumors were true. They were in denial of the fact that their efforts may have been in vain. In both novels, denial plays a strong role in the plot. Without this theme, the situations in The Crucible, and The Grapes of Wrath would surely have been entirely different.
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