The Crucible Arthur Miller

The Crucible

Arthur Miller

Introduction

Arthur Miller was an American playwright
who was born in 1915. He grew up in New York to a Jewish family.

He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1938 where he began to
distinguish himself as a playwright. His first plays were Honors
at Dawn (1936) and No Villain (1937) which won the University of Michigan

Hopwood Awards. His Death of a Salesman won the Pulitzer prize in

1949. Miller wrote The Crucible in 1953 during the McCarthy period
when Americans were accusing each other of Pro-Communist beliefs.

Many of Millerís friends were being attacked as communists and in 1956,

Miller himself was brought before the House of Un-American Activities Committee
where he was found guilty of beliefs in communism. The verdict was
reversed in 1957 in an appeals court. Miller married Marylin Monroe
in 1956 but divorced her in 1961.

The Crucible is set against the
backdrop of the mad witch hunts of the Salem witch trials in the late 17th
century. It is about a town, after accusations from a few girls,
which begins a mad hunt for witches that did not exist. Many townspeople
were hanged on charges of witchcraft. Miller brings out the absurdity
of the incident with the theme of truth and righteousness. The theme
is conveyed through the struggles of Millerís main character, John Proctor.

Summary

Act one begins with Reverend Parris
praying over her daughter, Betty Parris, who lies unconscious on her bed.

Through conversations between Reverend Parris and his niece Abigail Williams,
and between several girls, the audience learns that these girls, including

Abigail and Betty, were engaged in occultic activities in the forest lead
by Tituba, Parrisí slave from Barbados. Parris caught them and jumped
from a bush startling the girls. Betty fainted and had not recovered.

During this session, Abigail drank chicken blood to kill Elizabeth Proctor.

She tells the girls that she will kill anyone who mutters a word about
what happened. The townspeople do not know exactly what the girls
were doing but there are rumors of witchcraft.

John Proctor enters the room where

Betty lies faint. Abigail is still in there and she tries to seduce
him. Proctor is a farmer who has had an affair with Abigail a while
ago, but now he wants to forget it.

Reverend John Hale is summoned to
look upon Betty and the research the incident. He is an expert in
occultic phenomena and he is eager to show his knowledge. He questions

Abigail who accuses Tituba as being a witch. Tituba, afraid of being
hanged, confesses faith in God and accuses Goody Good and Goody Osborne
of witchcraft. Abigail and Betty, who has woken up, claim to have
been bewitched and confess faith in God. They name several other
people whom they claim they saw with the Devil.

Act two begins eight days after
the discussion at Parrisí house. Between act one and act two, Deputy

Governor Dansforth came to Salem to oversee the court proceedings.

Fourteen people have been arrested for witchcraft, and there is talk of
hanging. Elizabeth Proctor asks John to go to the court and testify
against Abigail and the other girls. John doesnít want to get involved.

There is tension between Elizabeth and John since Elizabeth has not forgiven

John for the affair. Marry Warren enters. She was in court
testifying against the townspeople. She gives Elizabeth a doll which
she has made in court. In the middle of their discussion, Hale enters
to question John and Elizabeth, suspicious of witchcraft. Later,

Giles Corey and Francis Nurse enter to seek advice after both their wives
had been arrested. Next, the marshal arrives with a warrant for Elizabethís
arrest. Elizabeth was accused by Abigail for stabbing Abigail with
a needle through a doll. John Proctor protests but Elizabeth is taken
away in chains. Proctor demands Mary that she goes to court and testify
against the girls. He vows that he will fight the proceedings, even
if it means confessing his own adultery.

Act three takes place in court.

Francis Nurse, Giles Corey, and John Proctor present their case against
the girls to Deputy Governor Dansforth and Judge Hathorne. Proctor
presents a petition signed by 91 people testifying to the good character
of their wives, and Dansforth issues warrants for the questioning of all
of them. Corey charges Putnam on inciting his daughter to accuse

Corey of witchcraft in order get his land. Corey has a witness but
will not name him for fear of getting the man arrested. Corey is
arrested because of contempt of the court.

Proctor presents his case and a
deposition by Mary Warren saying that she never saw the devil or