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Arthur Miller and The Crucible. Arthur Miller 1915-2005 Playwright and Essayist Child of The Great Depression Went to The University of Michigan Studied.

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Presentation on theme: "Arthur Miller and The Crucible. Arthur Miller 1915-2005 Playwright and Essayist Child of The Great Depression Went to The University of Michigan Studied."— Presentation transcript:

1 Arthur Miller and The Crucible

2 Arthur Miller Playwright and Essayist Child of The Great Depression Went to The University of Michigan Studied Journalism and wrote for the school paper, which is where he published his first work. He switched his major to English and won many awards in college for his early plays.

3 Early Career Roxbury, Connecticut – he built a small studio. Wrote Death of a Salesman in less than six weeks. The play won a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize for drama.

4 Married to Marilyn Arthur Miller did not hold very stable relationships His first wife was Mary Slatterly He divorced Mary in June of 1956 and on June 29 th (of the same year) he married Marilyn Monroe. Very public marriage They divorced in 1961 and 19 months later, Monroe died of an apparent drug overdose. In 1962, Miller married a photographer named Inge Morath. They had a child with Down Syndrome who was sent to an institution immediately and removed from Miller’s life. (what do you think about that?) After Inge died in 2002, Miller announced he had been living with a painter and intended to marry her. This never happened though, and Miller’s family strongly opposed the relationship.

5 Arthur Miller’s Legacy He died of heart failure in 2005 at his home (he died on the 56 th anniversary of the Broadway debut of Death of a Salesman) His legacy as a writer spanned over seven decades After his death he was called “the last great practitioner of the American stage,” and Broadway theatres darkened their lights out of respect.

6 Why did Arthur Miller write The Crucible? McCarthyism: “A period of intense anti-Communist suspicion in the United States” –Also known as “The Red Scare” –Thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists and became subjects of aggressive investigations from government agencies. –Who was accused? –Government workers, those in the entertainment industry, educators, and union activists (NON-CONFORMISTS) _ Hollywood Blacklists- ruined careers, destroyed images _ It was a widespread social and cultural phenomenon that affected all levels of society and was the source of a great deal of debate and conflict in the United States. In 1956 and 1957, Miller was subpoenaed by the House Un- American Activities Committee and was convicted of contempt of Congress for his refusal to identify writers believed to hold Communist sympathies. The following year, the United States Court of Appeals overturned the conviction.

7 Why did Arthur Miller write The Crucible? Shortly after the testimony, Miller traveled to Salem to research the Salem Witch Trials of He wrote The Crucible as an allegorical play in which he likened his experiences with the House of Un-American Activities Committee to those of The Salem Witch Trials. The Crucible was not favored when it was released because it dealt with very highly charged current events. Arthur Miller was cold-shouldered by many colleagues after the release of The Crucible. Today though, The Crucible is Arthur Miller’s most highly produced work around the world.

8 “For nearly seven decades, Miller has been creating characters that wrestle with power conflicts, personal and social responsibility, the repercussions of past actions, and the twin poles of guilt and hope. In his writing and in his role in public life, Miller articulates his profound political and moral convictions. He once said he thought theater could "change the world."

9 Social Dramatist Arthur Miller has been given the title “Social Dramatist” because his plays are pointed critiques of contemporary societal values. – For example, The Crucible was written over 250 years after the Salem Witch Trials, but Miller saw similarities in his own society – The play is an exploration of “the mystery of the handing over of one’s conscience.”

10 The Salem Witch Trials of Seen in three contexts- Economic Context –Family sizes were increasing –Disputes over land between neighbors and family grew strong. –Loss of crops and livestock, and even bad weather was attributed to “The Wrath of God.”

11 Religious Context -The Puritans has established a “theocracy”—a commonwealth dominated by theology (Paradox) -They believed they were God’s chosen people and therefore should live “exemplary lives” -The church ruled in all civil matters, even those dealing with capital punishment. -The Puritans believed in the existence of an invisible world inhabited by God and the angels, including the Devil(who was seen as a fallen angel) and his fellow demons. -To Puritans, this invisible world was as real as the visible one around them.

12 Social Context -The Puritans held very patriarchal beliefs. -Women should be totally submissive to men. -Women were more likely to “enlist in the Devil’s services,” and women were considered lustful by nature. -“Small Town” atmosphere. Secrets were hard to keep, and mostly everything heard was accepted as fact. -Children were at the bottom of the social ladder and were not encouraged to “play.” Toys were seen as idle, and a way to let the devil in. -Young girls were trained, from a young age, to spin, weave, cook, clean, and to be servants to their husbands, mothers, fathers, and brothers.

13 A Summary of Events 1692 in Salem Village, young girls of the Parris household began to have “fits of an un-natural behavior.” The Process: 1. After someone concluded that a loss, illness or death had been caused by witchcraft, the accuser would enter a complaint against the alleged witch with the local magistrates. 2. If the complaint was deemed credible, the magistrates would have the person arrested and brought in for a public examination, essentially an interrogation, where the magistrates pressed the accused to confess 3. If the magistrates at this local level were satisfied that the complaint was well-founded, the prisoner was handed over to be dealt with by a superior court. 4. The next step, at the superior court level, was to summon witnesses before a grand jury. 5. A person could be indicted on charges of afflicting with witchcraft, or for making an unlawful covenant with the Devil. Once indicted, the defendant went to trial, sometimes on the same day. 6.There were four execution dates from the witch-trials. 7.Not even in death were the accused witches granted peace or respect. As soon as the bodies of the accused were cut down from the trees, they were thrown into a shallow grave and the crowd would disperse. Oral history claims that the families of the dead reclaimed their bodies after dark and buried them in unmarked graves on family property. The record books of the time do not mention the deaths of any of those executed.

14 The Crucible What is a crucible? -A container made of metal material that can withstand high heat. OR -A severe searching, test, or trial.

15 Essential Questions What is a hero? How do we decide “the right thing to do? How do you explain events that defy rational explanation? Why were people accused of Witchcraft in Salem in the 1690’s What is a crucible? How does this term apply to humans? How can decisions we make or actions we take have implications beyond what might be expected?

16 Themes Deception Hysteria/Fear Possession Greed Quest for Power Revenge Crime & Punishment


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