Presentation on theme: "“The Crucible” By Arthur Miller. Salem, Massachusetts, 1692 Early in 1692, a small group of girls in Salem fell ill, falling victim to hallucinations."— Presentation transcript:
Salem, Massachusetts, 1692 Early in 1692, a small group of girls in Salem fell ill, falling victim to hallucinations and seizures.
In extremely religious Puritan New England, frightening or surprising occurrences were often attributed to the devil or his cohorts.
The unfathomable sickness spurred fears of witchcraft, and it was not long before the girls, and then many other residents of Salem, began to accuse other villagers of consorting with the devil and casting spells.
Old grudges and jealousies spilled out into the open, fueling the atmosphere of hysteria. The theocratic Massachusetts government and judicial system soon became involved.
Within a few weeks, dozens of people were in jail on charges of witchcraft. The hysteria lasted from May to September of 1692. By the time it was over, 19 people (and two dogs) had been convicted and hanged for witchcraft, one elderly man was pressed to death by stones, and 150 prisoners were awaiting trial. Five more people died in prison.
Arthur Miller More than two centuries later, Arthur Miller was born in New York City in 1915. The relative prosperity of the Miller family during his early years ended abruptly with the stock market crash of 1929. The altered status of his family and the misery wrought by the Depression had a profound impact on the development of his social consciousness.
Miller dropped out of high school and worked as a shipping clerk in an automobile parts warehouse. Despite his inability to complete high school, he persuaded the University of Michigan to accept him as a student. Miller studied English, drama and journalism, and began writing plays in college. He graduated in 1938.
Miller wrote over 50 works, among them radio plays, novels, articles, and 17 plays. Death of a Salesman opened two years later in 1949. Widely considered to be his best play, Death of a Salesman won a Pulitzer Prize and catapulted Miller to international fame.
Miller’s personal life became the focus of public attention when he married film star Marilyn Monroe in 1956. The couple divorced in 1961.
Miller wrote The Crucible in 1958. Although the play depicts the Salem witch trials of 1692, it was a response to the paranoid political climate that surrounded him. The 1950s saw the rise of Senator Joseph McCarthy, a demagogue whose paranoid hunt for Communists propelled the U.S. into a dramatic anti-Communist fervor. McCarthy conducted Senate hearings that were supposed to flush out suspected communists from government and other areas of American life, including the Arts.
The policy resulted in a whirlwind of accusations. Many cooperated through false confessions, attempting to save themselves, creating the image that the U.S. was overrun with Communists, and perpetuating the hysteria. The liberal entertainment industry, in which Miller worked, was one of the chief targets. Some called to testify cooperated, others refused. Those who refused to incriminate their friends were placed on the infamous Hollywood Blacklist. Those placed on this list were denied employment, based upon their suspected Communist sympathies.
Miller was called on to testify before the House Committee on Un- American Activities in 1956. Like so many of his generation, Miller, although never a member of the Communist Party, had advocated principles of equality among the classes, and social justice. At the hearings, he testified about his own experiences but refused to discuss the experiences of his colleagues and associates. He was blacklisted for his refusal to name names, but was eventually removed from the list.
Comparison between the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism: 1.Suspension of rational judgment 2.People who challenged the authority of the court soon found themselves under suspicion of guilt 3.Conscience was no longer a private matter but one of state administration
The Crucible does three important things : 1.Illustrates the belief that history repeats itself 2.Through the retelling of the Salem witch trials during the Red Scare of the 50s, The Crucible helped people to understand that often in life we are unable to see our moment in history very easily unless we are aided by earlier examples, or, in other words, unless we are able to make a connection between what is going on now and what has already happened. 3.Shows the danger of mob mentality—the kind of thinking/action where a large number of people act on poor information or they act using emotions, rather than logic.
Themes in The Crucible Hypocrisy Individual vs. the community (unity and exclusion) Authority Greed Justice vs. retribution and revenge Godliness vs. worldliness Ignorance vs. wisdom The Puritan Myth Order vs. Individual Freedom It is also a story about the struggle between good and evil inside the heart of one man.