Presentation on theme: "- Setting and Context - Ms Paine – 11 ENGLISH. Born in Harlem, New York in 1915, Arthur Miller attended the University of Michigan before moving back."— Presentation transcript:
- Setting and Context - Ms Paine – 11 ENGLISH
Born in Harlem, New York in 1915, Arthur Miller attended the University of Michigan before moving back east to produce plays for the stage. His first critical and popular success was Death of a Salesman, which opened on Broadway in The Crucible was first presented in His very colorful public life was partly highlighted by his rocky marriage to Marilyn Monroe, and his unwavering refusal to cooperate with the House of Un-American Activities Committee. He was married three times and died in 2005, at the age of 89. (Adapted from accessed on 24/10/14)
Definition: An allegory is a story that can be seen to have two different and parallel meanings, rather like a parable or fable. (Langston, D and Walker, M,. York Notes for the GSCE – The Crucible. Pearson Education Ltd. (2011), p. 51.) Miller uses the events that happened during the Salem Witch Trials (1692-3) to parallel the anti-Communist witch hunt led by Senator Joseph McCarthy during the 1950s in America.
“ The infamous Salem witch trials began during the spring of 1692, after a group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft. As a wave of hysteria spread throughout colonial Massachusetts, a special court convened in Salem to hear the cases; the first convicted witch, Bridget Bishop, was hanged that June. Eighteen others followed Bishop to Salem’s Gallows Hill, while some 150 more men, women and children were accused over the next several months. By September 1692, the hysteria had begun to abate and public opinion turned against the trials. Though the Massachusetts General Court later annulled guilty verdicts against accused witches and granted indemnities to their families, bitterness lingered in the community, and the painful legacy of the Salem witch trials would endure for centuries. ….the Salem witch trials would be fueled by residents’ suspicions of and resentment toward their neighbors, as well as their fear of outsiders.” From accessed on 24/10/14. People were convicted solely on spectral evidence, that is only the accusations of the so-called victims of witchcraft, which meant that the Witchcraft Trials could easily be manipulated as the burden of proof was so low.
Miller sets The Crucible during the Salem Witch Trials. He used the original court documents and parish records as a source for his drama. “So it is no surprise to find that so many accusations against people are in the handwriting of Thomas Putnam…” (pg. 23) Miller changed the age of some of key characters. For example - Abigail Williams was 12 at the time of “the crying out” but is a girl of 17 in the play.
Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?
“The Cold War is the name given to the relationship that developed primarily between the USA and the USSR after World War Two. The Cold War was to dominate international affairs for decades and many major crises occurred - the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, Hungary and the Berlin Wall being just some... A clash of very different beliefs and ideology - capitalism versus communism - each held with almost religious conviction, formed the basis of an international power struggle with both sides vying for dominance, exploiting every opportunity for expansion anywhere in the world.” The most worrying aspect for many people, was the growth in each country’s nuclear arsenal. Adapted from accessed on 24/10/14)
McCarthy was an American senator who choose to capitalise on America’s fear of communists. In a speech he made in February 1950, he waved a piece of paper and declared: " I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.“
The American Senate’s committee on Un- American Activities actively supported McCarthy in his attack on supposed communists. Directors, writers, teacher and public servants were all subpoenaed to appear before the House Committee. Many would claim Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. However, this did not stop them from sacked from jobs and “blacklisted”. Legally, it was also impossible for someone testifying before the House Committee to admit to their own communist activities without naming others. (From accessed on 24/10/14)
Miller was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, but refused to name others as Communists. Miller’s career only properly recovered from his blacklisting in the 1980s. Other prominent victims of McCarthyism: Charlie Chaplin Bertold Brecht Leonard Berstein etc (From accessed on 24/10/14)
McCarthy and his anti-communist witch hunt only lost momentum when President Eisenhower refused to support the senator’s investigation in the US military. These days, McCarthyism has come to mean “ the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence…especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism. ” (From accessed on 24/10/14)
HISTORICAL CONTEXT (in which it was set.) Setting: Salem, Massachusetts Central Event: Salem Witch Trials To save their own life, many people were forced to confess to witchcraft and identify other witches. HISTORICAL CONTEXT (in which it was set.) Setting: Salem, Massachusetts Central Event: Salem Witch Trials To save their own life, many people were forced to confess to witchcraft and identify other witches. HISTORICAL CONTEXT (in which it was written) Setting: 1950s.America during the Cold War Central Event: Anti-communist witch hunt led by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Committee on Un-American Activities People like Arthur Miller were called before the Committee and asked to testify as to their own Communist activities and the actions of others. Otherwise, there career would be ruined. HISTORICAL CONTEXT (in which it was written) Setting: 1950s.America during the Cold War Central Event: Anti-communist witch hunt led by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Committee on Un-American Activities People like Arthur Miller were called before the Committee and asked to testify as to their own Communist activities and the actions of others. Otherwise, there career would be ruined. An allegory is a story that can be seen to have two different and parallel meanings, rather like a parable or fable. This is technique that Miller deliberately uses in The Crucible to comment on McCarthyism.