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The Crucible Miller



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Why did Arthur Miller write The Crucible?

John Proctor, however, does not want to die like a martyr. He wants to live. Judge Danforth states that if John Proctor signs a written confession his life will be saved. John reluctantly agrees. They also pressure him to implicate others, but John is unwilling to do this. Once he signs the document, he refuses to hand over the confession. I have given you my soul; leave me my name! John Proctor rips it to pieces. The judge condemns Proctor to hang. He and Rebecca Nurse are taken to the gallows. Hale and Parris are both devastated. They urge Elizabeth to plead with John and the judge so that he might be spared.

God forbid I take it from him! The curtains close with the eerie sound of drums rattling. The audience knows that John Proctor and the others are moments away from execution. Share Flipboard Email. The Crucible Study Guide. Wade Bradford. Theater Expert. Wade Bradford, M. Cite this Article Format. Bradford, Wade. The Role of Witch's Cake in Salem. Tituba and The Salem Witch Trials of History of Witches Signing the Devil's Book. Profile of Mary Lacey Sr. Abigail denies Mary's assertions that they are pretending, and stands by her story about the poppet. When challenged by Parris and Hathorne to 'pretend to be possessed', Mary is too afraid to comply. John attacks Abigail's character, revealing that she and the other girls were caught dancing naked in the woods by Rev.

Parris on the night of Betty Parris' alleged 'bewitchment'. When Danforth begins to question Abigail, she claims that Mary has begun to bewitch her with a cold wind and John loses his temper, calling Abigail a whore. He confesses their affair, says Abigail was fired from his household over it and that Abigail is trying to murder Elizabeth so that she may "dance with me on my wife's grave. Danforth brings Elizabeth in to confirm this story, beforehand forbidding anyone to tell her about John's testimony. Unaware of John's public confession, Elizabeth fears that Abigail has revealed the affair in order to discredit John and lies, saying that there was no affair, and that she fired Abigail out of wild suspicion.

Hale begs Danforth to reconsider his judgement, now agreeing Abigail is "false", but to no avail; Danforth throws out this testimony based solely upon John's earlier assertion that Elizabeth would never tell a lie. Confusion and hysteria begin to overtake the room. Abigail and the girls run about screaming, claiming Mary's spirit is attacking them in the form of a yellow bird, which nobody else is able to see. When Danforth tells the increasingly distraught Mary that he will sentence her to hang, she joins with the other girls and recants all her allegations against them, claiming John Proctor forced her to turn her against the others and that he harbors the devil. John, in despair and having given up all hope, declares that " God is dead ", and is arrested.

Furious, Reverend Hale denounces the proceedings and quits the court. Act Four takes place three months later in the town jail, early in the morning. Tituba, sharing a cell with Sarah Good, appears to have gone insane from all of the hysteria, hearing voices and now actually claiming to talk to Satan. Marshal Herrick, depressed at having arrested so many of his neighbors, has turned to alcoholism. Many villagers have been charged with witchcraft; most have confessed and been given lengthy prison terms and their property seized by the government; twelve have been hanged; seven more are to be hanged at sunrise for refusing to confess, including John Proctor, Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey.

Giles Corey was tortured to death by pressing as the court tried in vain to extract a plea; by holding out, Giles ensured that his sons would receive his land and possessions. The village has become dysfunctional with so many people in prison or dead, and with the arrival of news of rebellion against the courts in nearby Andover , whispers abound of an uprising in Salem. Abigail, fearful of the consequences, steals Parris's life savings and disappears on a ship to England with Mercy Lewis.

Danforth and Hathorne have returned to Salem to meet with Parris, and are surprised to learn that Hale has returned and is meeting with the condemned. Parris, who has lost everything to Abigail, reports that he has received death threats. He begs Danforth to postpone the executions in order to secure confessions, hoping to avoid executing some of Salem's most highly regarded citizens. Hale, deeply remorseful and blaming himself for the hysteria, has returned to counsel the condemned to falsely confess and avoid execution. He presses Danforth to pardon the remaining seven and put the entire affair behind them.

Danforth refuses, stating that pardons or postponement would cast doubt on the veracity of previous confessions and hangings. Danforth and Hale summon Elizabeth and ask her to persuade John to confess. She is bitter towards Hale, both for doubting her earlier and for wanting John to give in and ruin his good name, but agrees to speak with her husband, if only to say goodbye. She and John have a lengthy discussion, during which she commends him for holding out and not confessing.

John says he is refusing to confess not out of religious conviction but through contempt for his accusers and the court. The two finally reconcile, with Elizabeth forgiving John and saddened by the thought that he cannot forgive himself and see his own goodness. Knowing in his heart that it is the wrong thing for him to do, John agrees to falsely confess to engaging in witchcraft, deciding that he has no desire or right to be a martyr. Danforth, Hathorne, and a relieved Parris ask John to testify to the guilt of the other hold-outs and the executed. John refuses, saying he can only report on his own sins. Danforth is disappointed by this reluctance, but at the urging of Hale and Parris, allows John to sign a written confession, to be displayed on the church door as an example.

John is wary, thinking his verbal confession is sufficient. As they press him further John eventually signs, but refuses to hand the paper over, stating he does not want his family and especially his three sons to be stigmatized by the public confession. The men argue until Proctor renounces his confession entirely, ripping up the signed document. Danforth calls for the sheriff and John is led away, to be hanged. Facing an imminent rebellion, Putnam and Parris frantically run out to beg Proctor to confess.

Hale, guilty over John's death, pleads with Elizabeth to talk John around but she refuses, stating John has "found his goodness". During the McCarthy era , German-Jewish novelist and playwright Lion Feuchtwanger became the target of suspicion as a left-wing intellectual during his exile in the US. In , Feuchtwanger wrote a play about the Salem witch trials , Wahn oder der Teufel in Boston Delusion, or The Devil in Boston , as an allegory for the persecution of communists, thus anticipating the theme of The Crucible by Arthur Miller; Wahn premiered in Germany in Original Broadway cast : [10] [11].

In June Miller recast the production, simplified the "pitiless sets of rude buildings" and added a scene. Marshall — Rev. In , the year the play debuted, Miller wrote, " The Crucible is taken from history. No character is in the play who did not take a similar role in Salem, Abigail Williams' age was increased from 11 or 12 [16] to 17, probably to add credence to the backstory of Proctor's affair with Abigail. John Proctor himself was 60 years old in , but portrayed as much younger in the play, for the same reason.

Miller claimed, in A Note on the Historical Accuracy of this Play , [19] that "while there were several judges of almost equal authority, I have symbolized them all in Hathorne and Danforth". Both men were subsequent Deputy Governors, but it was Stoughton who, alone among the judges, was a bachelor who never married [20] who ordered further deliberations after the jury initially acquitted Rebecca Nurse. He refused to ever acknowledge that the trials had been anything other than a success, and was infuriated when Governor Phips whose own wife, somehow, had been named as a possible witch ended the trials for good and released the prisoners.

Danforth did not sit on the Court of Oyer and Terminer. In fact he is recorded as being critical of the conduct of the trials, and played a role in bringing them to an end. In real life, the Putnams who both died in were survived by ten of their twelve children, including Ann Jr. Thomas Putnam's conduct during the witch trial hysteria has been amply documented to have been almost entirely due to financial motivations and score-settling, something the play only makes reference to after introducing the Putnams' fictional deceased offspring as part of the plot narrative. In the essay, "Journey to The Crucible ", Miller writes of visiting Salem and feeling like the only one interested in what really happened in Parris issued his first in a series of apologies on November 26, , and was removed from his position in The play's action takes place 70 years after the community arrived as settlers from Britain.

The people on whom the characters are based would have retained strong regional dialects from their home country. Miller gave all his characters the same colloquialisms, such as "Goody" or " Goodwife ", and drew on the rhythms and speech patterns of the King James Bible to achieve the effect of historical perspective he wanted. The word "crucible" is defined as a severe test or trial; alternately, a container in which metals or other substances are subjected to high temperatures. The characters whose moral standards prevail in the face of death, such as John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse , symbolically refuse to sacrifice their principles or to falsely confess.

The play has been presented several times on television. A production starred George C. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see The Crucible disambiguation. Original Broadway cast : [10] [11] In June Miller recast the production, simplified the "pitiless sets of rude buildings" and added a scene. Comparative Drama. JSTOR Critical companion to Arthur Miller: a literary reference to his life and work.

New York: Infobase. ISBN The more I read into the Salem panic, the more it touched off corresponding images of common experiences in the fifties: the old friend of a blacklisted person crossing the street to avoid being seen talking to him; the overnight conversions of former leftists into born-again patriots; and so on. Apparently, certain processes are universal.

The thought that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable And so the evidence has to be internally denied. That plain, craggy English was liberating in a strangely sensuous way, with its swings from an almost legalistic precision to a wonderful metaphoric richness. But it was not yet my language, and among other strategies to make it mine I enlisted the help of a former University of Michigan classmate, the Greek-American scholar and poet Kimon Friar. He later translated Kazantzakis. As in the film, nearly fifty years later, the actors in the first production grabbed the language and ran with it as happily as if it were their customary speech. With its five sets and a cast of twenty-one, it never occurred to me that it would take a brave man to produce it on Broadway, especially given the prevailing climate, but Kermit Bloomgarden never faltered.

Well before the play opened, a strange tension had begun to build. I knew of two suicides by actors depressed by upcoming investigation, and every day seemed to bring news of people exiling themselves to Europe: Charlie Chaplin, the director Joseph Losey, Jules Dassin, the harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler, Donald Ogden Stewart, one of the most sought-after screenwriters in Hollywood, and Sam Wanamaker, who would lead the successful campaign to rebuild the Old Globe Theatre on the Thames. On opening night, January 22, , I knew that the atmosphere would be pretty hostile.

The coldness of the crowd was not a surprise; Broadway audiences were not famous for loving history lessons, which is what they made of the play. The critics were not swept away. The play stumbled into history, and today, I am told, it is one of the most heavily demanded trade-fiction paperbacks in this country; the Bantam and Penguin editions have sold more than six million copies. Nor is the new screen version the first.

Jean-Paul Sartre, in his Marxist phase, wrote a French film adaptation that blamed the tragedy on the rich landowners conspiring to persecute the poor. In truth, most of those who were hanged in Salem were people of substance, and two or three were very large landowners. From Argentina to Chile to Greece, Czechoslovakia, China, and a dozen other places, the play seems to present the same primeval structure of human sacrifice to the furies of fanaticism and paranoia that goes on repeating itself forever as though imbedded in the brain of social man. For others, it may simply be a fascination with the outbreak of paranoia that suffuses the play—the blind panic that, in our age, often seems to sit at the dim edges of consciousness.

But below its concerns with justice the play evokes a lethal brew of illicit sexuality, fear of the supernatural, and political manipulation, a combination not unfamiliar these days. The film, by reaching the broad American audience as no play ever can, may well unearth still other connections to those buried public terrors that Salem first announced on this continent. One thing more—something wonderful in the old sense of that word. I recall the weeks I spent reading testimony by the tome, commentaries, broadsides, confessions, and accusations.

Nobody seems even to have thought to ask. But, of course, actions are as irrelevant during cultural and religious wars as they are in nightmares. The thing at issue is buried intentions—the secret allegiances of the alienated heart, always the main threat to the theocratic mind, as well as its immemorial quarry. By Truman Capote. By Wolcott Gibbs. By Jhumpa Lahiri.

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