Arthur Miller Essay Why I Wrote The Crucible

why i wrote the crucible essay

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?Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, portrays the fundamental causes of paranoia amidst its effects on a society and its individual counterparts, united with the terror of supernatural forces. In Puritan New England, the occurrences involving the presence of witchcraft fittingly resembled the appearance of Communists in America in the mid-1900s. Senator Joseph McCarthy roused up hysteria in the American people by encouraging the belief that Communism had slipped through the cracks of the United States government, similarly to how Reverend Parris allowed the notion of witchcraft to escalate to the point of death in Salem, Massachusetts.

Miller’s drama rendered certain elements that mirrored the Second Red Scare, such as societies having just been delivered from a time of disorder and confusion and the institution of duress causing persons to irresponsibly accuse another so to uphold their reputations. In the earlier lines of The Crucible, Miller explains that part of the overwhelming suffering that took place occurred because of “their self-denial, their purposefulness, their suspicion of all vain pursuits, [and] their hard-handed justice” (Crucible 6).

The defeat of a society, if not from another civilization, originates within itself. This same concept is shown in the Salem Witch Trials and the McCarthy Era since both Parris and McCarthy, as leaders in their communities, instigated panic and continued falsely preaching about nonexistent injustices. In his drama, Miller states, “the witch-hunt was a perverse manifestation of the panic which set in among all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater individual freedom” (7).

In regard to all communities, panic excites even more paranoia; Under these conditions, people tend to assimilate under the same judgments due to lack of reason. Those accused in Salem began voicing the names of innocent people to the court because they acknowledged the fact that death would result if they refused. Similarly, Americans felt that if they did not create allegations against others, their reputations would be tarnished and their livelihoods ruined. Parallel to the Communist trials, the witch trials were substantially progressed by the proclamations of the accused, who were driven into naming other offenders.

In his article, addressing those questioning his play, Millers explains, “the best proof of the sincerity of your confession was naming others whom you had seen in the Devil company – an invitation to private vengeance, but made official by the seal of the theocratic state” (“Why I Wrote’). Spectral evidence was a damning indication of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials, but the pressure to save oneself from acquiring a destroyed reputation was also a motivating factor.

The people accused during the Salem Witch Trials also can be compared to the artists, writers, and actors during the McCarthy Era. Collectively, the groups had the duty to reveal to their society the fallacious convictions of the Salem Court and the House Un-American Activities Committee, who were claiming legitimacy based on unreliable ideas. While obliged to expose the corrupt nature of the court systems, the people also recognized that accompanied by this responsibility came the possibility of imprisonment or death.

Miller states, “the Red hunt, led by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and McCarthy, was becoming the dominating fixation of the American psyche. It reached Hollywood… [and] unleashed a veritable holy terror among actors, directors, and others” (“Why I Wrote”). Few people stepped up in defense of the innocent during these faulty trials due to fear and desire to maintain their reputations in their communities, leading to these trials being in a way successful.

Miller uses artistic freedom when he ages Abigail Williams and designates her and John Proctor’s sinful actions as a central part of the plot in The Crucible. Abigail has a distorted view of Proctor’s emotions toward her. Miller uses his play to progress the Salem Witch Trials and establishes the affair as the integral component that leads to Abigail’s false blame and Proctor’s failure to carry out his social responsibility.

Proctor finally begins to realize the true fate of his careless mistakes and refusal to own up to them when he says, “’now Heaven and Hell grapple on our backs, and all of our old pretense is ripped away… Peace. It is a providence, and no great charge; we are what we always were, but naked now” (81). Proctor concealing his adulterous ways only further shows him avoiding his obligations to his family and community and prolonging the trials he knows are based on inaccurate information.

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Within The Crucible, Arthur Miller establishes an allegory to the situation he faced during the McCarthy Era in the mid-1900s. The two most prominent characters, who were considered leaders in their communities, allowed the rise of falsehoods, which eventually laid foundation for hysteria. Paranoia amongst a group of people leads to irrational thinking and leads to less than immaculate decision making skills. Miller also adds Abigail Williams and her adultery with John Proctor in the play to provide a center to his ever evolving plot that is moved by lack of social responsibility and mass panic.

Author: Christen Curtis

in The Crucible

why i wrote the crucible essay

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Parallels between Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, and his article Why I wrote the Crucible, can easily support Miller’s reasons for writing this classic play. Miller’s purpose in writing both the play and the article was to emphasize the similarities between the 1692 witch hunt and the 1950’s Red Scare. Miller simply wanted to convey the message of fear over reason, express himself in a new language of old English, to warn of mass hysteria, and most importantly compare his life in the 1950’s to the irrational trial in 1692. Miller’s reasons are numerous, and while they are all stated flat out in his article, they are also clearly stated and understood in the play. A major theme in both the article and the play is fear over reason.…show more content…

Miller says, “I was also drawn into writing The Crucible by the chance it gave me to use a new language” (Miller 4). Miller liked the challenge of writing a historical novel, in an unfamiliar accent as well as his goal of conveying the importance of the time frame and the themes he chose to write about. An example of this language would be at the end of the novel when Elizabeth is telling Hale she cannot save her husbands life, “He have his goodness now, God forbid I take it from him!” (Miller 145). This is an example of the old English. Today, we would not speak with that sentence structure or with words or phrases such as “he have his goodness…” Miller is able to convey his mood and message by using unique language throughout the novel. Miller is able to convey the affect of mass hysteria on large groups of people in his play, The Crucible. He states in his article, “Senator McCarthy…if you remember the fear he once spread” (Miller 1). McCarthy was able to spread fear and panic, because he was a great orator, and spoke with authority, he never faltered. Abigail Williams in the play is the same way, she speaks with great authority and is feared by most other characters. Mary Warren expresses her fear of going against Abby to Proctor, “I cannot charge murder on Abigail…She’ll kill me for sayin’ that!... I cannot, they’ll turn on me-…I cannot do it, I cannot!” (Miller 80). Due to mass hysteria, the little power these

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