The Crucible Essay, Research Paper
The Crucible was written by Arthur Miller during an era known as
McCarthyism. McCarthyism was a search, or “witch hunt”, led by Senator
Joe McCarthy, for Communists in the nineteen-fifties United States
Government. This “witch hunt” indirectly shed light upon “…one of the
strangest and most awful chapters in human history”: The Salem
Witchcraft Trials of 1692. The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is a drama of the
true story which took place during the seventeenth century.
In The Crucible, the events flow naturally from one event to the next.
Everything occurs naturally from the mood of the characters. This story is
not contrived, but is based on a true story. This story takes place in Salem,
Massachusetts in the late sixteen-hundreds. The characters of the story
were superstitious and gullible, which allowed for the mass hysteria taken
place. The incident begins with the girls dancing in the forest, which in
turn, generates a witch hunt. The conflict was sufficient enough to keep
interest aroused. There were tension and suspense in the story, covering
basic human instincts and qualities. The story shows the human necessity
for survival, and the lengths which one will go to save his life.
The play opens in a scene of chaos; Betty Parris, daughter of
Reverend Parris, has slipped into what is now known as a coma. When
Betty does not awaken, the townspeople immediately turn to witchcraft
as the concern. Jealousy, caused by theocracy of the times, causes many
of the people to accuse others of witchcraft. Debates over property lines
occur; neighbors are at each others’ throats. Centering now upon John
Proctor, and his wife, Elizabeth, the story takes a turn. Elizabeth is
accused by Abigail Williams of witchcraft. When Elizabeth is standing
trial, Abigail now accuses John of the same crime; he is now to stand trial,
also. At the story’s end, John is hanged, and it becomes apparent to the
town of Salem that there is no such thing as witchcraft. As a result of
these occurrences, theocracy came to an end in Salem.
The ending to the play symbolizes the struggle evident throughout.
The Crucible goes a long way to help understand the tragedies which
occurred in Salem, as well as the tragedy during the nineteen-fifties.
Millers’ style of writing is very simple. He uses simple sentences and
words to make the reading easier to understand. The dialogue is effective
in sounding like actual speech. Miller created images throughout the
story which are hard to forget.
The Crucible has had over 500 performances, around the world. The
play is an engaging and timeless drama, with continued popularity not
only in the United States, but all over the world. Miller centers on social
concerns throughout the world. He expresses the human necessity for
survival, and the lengths one will go to save his life. The Crucible parallels
with the people of Salem, Washington, or even Nazi Germany. In each of
these examples, vengeance turned neighbor against neighbor, brother
against brother, and husband against wife. With the understanding and
analysis of these crises’, others in the future can be prevented. Miller
expresses the significance of mass hysteria in a society, and the frame of
reference people held. The universal theme expressed in The Crucible
deals with the intolerance of society. Because we, the people, are so
intolerant to others who appear differently, we begin to become
prejudiced against these people. Prejudiced, in great numbers, will in
turn lead to mass hysteria, as shown in The Crucible.
The Crucible is “a play of enormous strength and intelligence”-John
McCain, New York Journal-American. This story reflects the suffering
during human history. It reminds us that man is not perfect, and that we
do make mistakes. These sufferings we undergo, become to us, like a
crucible. The mass hysteria endured during the sixteen-hundreds, as well
as the mass hysteria during the nineteen-hundreds, should guide us
towards good judgement in the future. Hopefully, man can turn away
from petty issues such as these, and not take the lives of the innocent.