Arthur Miller

This essay has a total of 2265 words and 15 pages.

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 Miller's 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 Miller's 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, Parris' 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 Parris' 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 doesn't 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 Elizabeth's
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 any spirits. Abigail says
that Mary is lying and she and the girls pretend to be bewitched by Mary. Proctor, frustrated at the gullibility of the court, grabs
Abigail by the hair and exclaims to everyone that she is a whore confessing that he had an affair with Abigail. Elizabeth is
brought in to be questioned about whether this is true. Elizabeth tells the court that John Proctor never had an affair with
Abigail in order to save his name, however, this destroys Proctor's testimony. Mary crumbles under the peer pressure and
returns to Abigail's side, accusing Proctor of being a witch. The girls pretend to be bewitched by Proctor. Proctor accuses
Danforth of being afraid to reveal the truth. Dansforth acts more to keep the reputation of the court rather than for justice.
Reverend Hale now sees the evil in the court and denounces the proceedings. Proctor is arrested.
Act four begins in prison where Sarah Good and Tituba wait to be hanged. They have gone insane and believe that Satan will
take them both to Barbados.
There is rumors of an uprising in a nearby town due to similar witch trials. The townspeople are afraid of a similar riot in
Salem.
Hale and Parris are now terrified. They go to visit the innocent people in the jail and beg them to make false confessions in
order to save their lives. Hale believes that the blood of the people who are being hanged is on his hands. He asks Elizabeth,
who is now pregnant, to tell John to confess to save his life but Elizabeth will not. While Elizabeth is talking to John, she tells
him that she has forgiven him of his affair and tells his that he can do as he will. John Proctor confesses that he is a witch, but
will not say the others are. After a few moments, Proctor is fed up with the court, tears up his confession, and goes out to be
hanged with Rebecca Nurse. Hales pleads that Elizabeth ask Proctor to confess, but she says, "He has his goodness now.
God forbid I take it from him!"

Plot
In The Crucible all the event flow naturally from one event to the next. Everything happens naturally from the natures of the
characters. The fact that the

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