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The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Transcript of The Crucible by Arthur Miller
THE CRUCIBLE: In the words of Arthur Miller
Social Context: 1950's America and McCarthyism
As Cold War paranoia pervaded the country, Miller wrote The Crucible (1953), as a response to 1950s McCarthyism. Three years later, he was called to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) and was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to name those he knew to have Communist sympathies (he was eventually cleared of the charges).
Salem Witch Trials
Miller read the recorded transcripts of the trials.
Have a look at SPARKS NOTES on YouTube for a 10 minute synopsis of the plot:
A 2 min overview of the play:
Miller was sentenced to a $500 fine or thirty days in prison, blacklisted, and disallowed a US passport
"I could not use the name of another person and bring trouble on him." Arthur Miller
Here hung Rebecca, John Proctor, people more real to me than the living can ever be. The sense of a terrible marvel again that people could have such a belief in themselves and in the rightness of their consciences as to give their lives rather than say what they thought was false. Or, perhaps, they only feared Hell so much? Yet, Rebecca said, and it is written in the record, I cannot belie myself. And she knew it would kill her. The Gallows Rock stands forever in Salem. They knew who they were. Nineteen.
"The prime business of a play is to arouse the passions of its audience." Arthur Miller
"Drama ought to help us to KNOW more, and not merely to spend our feelings." Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller examines the human heart as well as "the work of the individual conscience when pitted against the uniform thinking of the mob" (New Yorker
A crucible is used to melt metal. The reactions can be violent but something new is created. It is a metaphor for the violent hysteria in Salem during the witch trials.
Under McCarthy the United States became a "crucible" in which citizens' beliefs about justice, the power of the courts and individual freedom were deeply tested
Metaphorically, it means a test or trial. In the play there are the tests to determine who is a witch, there are the literal trials the accused must undergo as well as the internal trials , where the characters' deepest, most powerful beliefs are put to the test.
Watch this YouTube clip of an interview with Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe at the time of the hearings:
Here is a 2 minute plot summary:
View this video in which Arthur Miller explains his purpose in writing "The Crucible":
View this clip from an extract from the hearings of the House of Un-American Activities:
Next, the motif of empowerment:
And here's a clip explaining the theme of hysteria in the play:
Meet the characters:
Here's a short clip on the context of the play:
John Proctor and guilt:
"Every human in every society has a panic button and if anybody is unscrupulous enough to mash it, they will create a condition which, if it is unopposed successfully, can end up killing a lots of people." Arthur Miller
"If someone is gonna yell fire and there is no fire, there's gonna be a stampede and someone's gonna get it. I don't foresee a time when any society is guaranteed against that." Arthur Miller