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The Crucible By Arthur Miller Historical and Contextual Information.

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1 The Crucible By Arthur Miller Historical and Contextual Information

2 Salem, Massachusetts Setting is Salem, Massachusetts Puritan time period Puritanism- Christian faith that originated in England during the early 1600s They split from the Church of England in 1633 Many emigrated to the American colonies

3 Puritanism Believed in black and white lines between good and evil The powers of darkness were real forces to them Could wreak havoc and destruction on society if unleashed System of government was a “theocracy,”- meant that God was the true leader of society God expressed his will through the actions of men and women.

4 Witchcraft Like all Puritans, the residents of Salem Village believed in witchcraft. Believed that witchcraft was entering into a compact with the devil in exchange for certain powers to do evil. Considered it a sin and a crime; it was a very serious accusation

5 Witchcraft Reverend Samuel Parris’s daughter and Abigail Williams started having fits of convulsion, screaming, and hallucination A doctor examined the girls and concluded that the only explanation for these bizarre behaviors was witchcraft

6 The Salem Witch Trials Rather than get in trouble for meddling with witchcraft, the girls blamed Tituba, Reverend Parris’ slave They then blamed others around the town for their fits, as well This sparked a witch hunt Many of the accusations began to be made for personal gain of some sort- such as property

7 Accusation Process Afflicted person makes a complaint to the Magistrate about a suspected witch. Magistrate issues a warrant for the arrest of the accused person. The accused person is taken into custody and examined by two or more Magistrates. If, after listening to testimony, the Magistrate believes that the accused person is probably guilty, the accused is sent to jail for possible reexamination and to await trial When at court, the court decides if they believe the accused or the accuser

8 The Salem Witch Trials During the next 8 months of terror, more than 150 people were imprisoned for witchcraft. By the time court was dismissed, 27 people had been convicted, 19 hanged, and 1 pressed to death. This hysteria reveals how deep the belief in the supernatural ran in colonial America.

9 Allegory Written about US events in the 1600’s as an allegory to the US events of the 1950’s Allegory: Allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personification of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy. Thus an allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and symbolic meaning.

10 The Cold War During WWII, the US, Great Britain, and the USSR (Soviet Union) fought side by side to defeat Nazi Germany After the war, the US and Great Britain ended their friendship with Russia, which created the beginning of the cold war

11 Communism Russia and America: two conflicting systems of government The US believed (and still believes) in the capitalist and democratic ideology Russia operated under a communist system The government owned most businesses, farms and homes Citizens were guaranteed a job, a place to live, and food But, Soviet citizens did not enjoy many of the individual rights guaranteed the people of the US

12 Joseph McCarthy Joseph McCarthy was born in 1909 in Wisconsin Although he once dropped out of high school, he managed to get his diploma, graduate from Marquette University in Milwaukee, get his law degree, and win an election to the Wisconsin circuit court as a judge. Served as a lieutenant in the Marines during WWII. He would later claim to be a war hero—something the Military denied

13 McCarthy’s Rise to the top At the start of the Cold War, McCarthy was an unknown Republican politician. Once he took up the cause and fight against Communism, he became famous. 5 years after being elected to the Senate, he made himself into one of the most powerful men in the country. McCarthy, who honestly believed that communism was a threat to American society, also used his cause to gain more political power for himself.

14 American Communist Party Founded in 1919 A legal organization that operated as a political party similar to the Republican and Democratic parties ACP members competed in elections, including those for the United States Presidency The majority of ACP members were loyal Americans, they just believed in the communist ideas

15 McCarthyism Once McCarthy became popular, he started attacking anyone he thought might be “communist”. This included those who might take his political career. His willingness to attack the reputation of anyone he disliked went against the values he claimed to support Term “McCarthyism” begins

16 McCarthyism The fear, suspicion, and scapegoating that surrounded McCarthy’s, accusations It was a witch-hunt style campaign to silence critics of the Cold War

17 The Red Scare A near hysteria was created in the late 40's and 50's with hearings led by Joseph McCarthy accusing people of belonging to the Communist Party Focused on national and foreign communists influencing society or infiltrating the federal government, or both.

18 House UnAmerican Activities Committee A sub branch of the US House of Representatives Created in 1937 to investigate un-American and subversive activities. In 1947 began investigating the Hollywood Motion Picture Industry. They interviewed 41 “friendly witnesses” that accused other actors of having left wing views.

19 Blacklisting Persons accused of being communists were often denied employment in both the public and private sector. In the film industry alone, over 300 actors, writers, and directors were denied work in the U.S. American writer, Arthur Miller, was one of those alleged to have been “blacklisted.”

20 Arthur Miller Oct. 17, 1915 – Feb. 10, 2005 – Died of heart failure Wrote: – Death of a Salesman (1949) – All My Sons (1947) – The Crucible (1953) – Many others….

21 Arthur Miller Born in New York City to Jewish immigrants Miller’s father was a successful women’s clothing manufacturer The family business failed when he still at school. Miller’s mother was forced to sell off her possessions to keep the family afloat. Miller worked odd jobs during youth to help support himself during the depression Began writing plays in college

22 Arthur Miller In 1953 he wrote The Crucible, which uses the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692 to attack the anti- communist “witch hunts” of the 1950s. He believed the hysteria surrounding the witch craft trials in Puritan New England paralleled the climate of McCarthyism – Senator Joseph McCarthy’s obsessive quest to uncover communist party infiltration of American institutions. After the publication of the The Crucible, Miller himself was investigated for possible associations with the communist party. He refused to give information regarding his colleagues and was found guilty of contempt of court. His sentence was later overturned.


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