The Crucible Is Still Appropriate Today
“The Crucible,” a play by Arthur Miller later developed into a major Hollywood film, checks out the politics of worry, social standards, and the fight to regain a man’s ethical compass. Miller paints his story using the little tight knit neighborhood of Salem circa 1692 as his canvass, remarkably weaving historical fact and fiction to portray a scenario not unlike occasions seen considering that. The notorious witch hunts of 1692 and wild accusations of a subversive culture that threatened to tear away at the material of society are at the center of the film.
Initially developed in the 1950’s throughout the red scare, it is well known and accepted that Miller sought to highlight the similarities with the continuous persecutions of implicated communist sympathizers. The mass hysteria and destruction of the individual at the hand of society’s worths showed in the play completely encapsulated the environment of 1950’s America. Miller’s idea provoking play was seen then with much criticism, drawing the ire of the Right, due to its implied message of hypocrisy and unconsciously questioning what he considered as malfeasance.
But does Miller’s “The Crucible” still resonate today? I will argue that it does. In doing so, I feel it is vital to attempt and comprehend the preliminary reaction to the play and how it mirrored the times. I will then look for resemblances in today day citing examples from the previous 8 years in specific. There are 3 main characteristics of “The Crucible” that I will be concentrating on which include fear methods, power battles, and obstacle to conformity. In analyzing these within the context of the play I will seek to draw parallels not just with the 1950’s however present day America also.
The story revolves around the allegations from a cruel lady, Abigail, whose previous affair with an older married man, John Proctor, leaves her desiring more. Proctor explains to her that he had actually made a mistake in having an affair with Abigail and from there the hysteria takes place. Abigail and other women begin accusing individuals all over town of confiding with the devil through witchery. Abigail in particular names Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor’s spouse. The Reverend, and the spiritual alike, begin offering credence to these allegations and subsequently set up trials to purge the community of witches.
The implicated are brought in and required to sign a statement admitting to witchcraft and listing others involved in witchcraft in exchange for their lives. In the occurring melee John Proctor is forced to concede his previous affair with Abigail to release his wife and he is implicated of witchcraft. He is provided the chance to save himself by confession however picks to hang instead of compromise his reputation. Among the key elements checked out in “The Crucible” was the result fear had on an otherwise regular neighborhood.
As Bigsby states in his analysis of Miller’s work, “what is at stake in The Crucible is the survival of Salem, which is to say the survival of a sense of community” (148 ). Worry assisted to rid Salem not just of accused witches however a sense of morality, intelligence, and humanness together with it and “more fundamentally than this, Miller is interested in the breaking of that social agreement which binds a community together, as love and shared regard bind individuals” (Bigsby 149). Rational individuals were soon persuaded of extremely irrational concepts and started benefiting from other’s fears, looking for to profit themselves by calling names.
The dominant class sought to strengthen themselves within the community mind responding with such zeal to the accusations with witch hangings. It didn’t take a giant leap to see how Salem was a microcosm of 1950’s America. Your House of Un-American Activities Committee was on its crusade of purging the liberal elite from society by attacking each based on their expected Communist affiliations. That Committee did its fare share of fear mongering forcing people to name names and black-listing a number of the Hollywood elites.
Some discover it tough to fathom this type of menacing atmosphere would be seen again in America but there has actually been a specific similarity in the last 8 years. In the early post-9/ 11 days, the country was swallowed up in paranoia about who would attempt to destroy their way of life. Middle Easterners were seen suspiciously any where they went. Jail camps filled with presumed terrorists sprang up in foreign nations. Bush and his administration were the modern equivalent of Abigail to some degree. In some ways terrorism was the brand-new communism. Risks from abroad were pounded in to the American mind.
Calls to increase border security, installed a fence along the Mexican border, neighborhoods torn in between allowing a Mosque to be built or not, questions of allegiance to the State, concerns of patriotism: all of this was summed up when Bush exclaimed you were either with us or with the terrorists. Fear was utilized by the Right, similar to in the 50’s, to press their agenda. Worry was used by typical villagers in “The Crucible” to get what they desired and encourage the masses to accept their side of the story over any others. Miller dealt with a great deal of criticism hen his play went public. The initial reaction to Miller’s “The Crucible” focused on the charge that “such an example was specious– that there never ever were any witches however there definitely are Communists” (Miller 160). However it was a problematic argument from the start as Miller explains [In the 17th century, however, the presence of witches was never ever questioned by the loftiest minds in Europe and America … Of, course there were no Communists in 1692, but it was actually worth your life to deny witches or their powers … There needed to be witches in the world or the Bible lied. And the irony is that klatches of Luciferians exist all over the country today, there might even be more of them now than there are Communists] (160 ). Miller poignantly used the persecutions of witches in “The Crucible” to parody that which he witnessed as widespread hypocrisy. Such hypocrisy and hysteria is still seen today. One only requires to tune into Fox news on any given day to see how brief we have actually originated from those days of McCarthyism. Individuals on Fox news seem to still be residing in the age in fact.
Mainly stemming from their opposition to Obama they serve as the Republican arm, they try to reject anything the President says or does along with attempting to question the authenticity of his presidency. Calling him a socialist; labeling his proposals as some Bolshevik plot; questioning his citizenship; and connecting him to terrorists: all of this rubbish is eerily familiar to those witch hunt days. When seeing “The Crucible” I was astonished at how individuals could be so quickly convinced. Then I remembered how there wasn’t much opposition to the hearings in the 1950’s from the Left either.
Fear had actually incapacitated even those who were supposed to champion individual liberties. Miller highlights this in his critique of his play by stating, [when I started to think about discussing the hunt for Reds in America, I was encouraged in some excellent part by the paralysis that had actually set in amongst many liberals who, regardless of their discomfort with the inquisitors’ violations of civil rights, were fearful, and with excellent reason, of being determined as cover Communists if they need to object too strongly] (159 ). It was a concern of conformity as well or the worry of not mixing in with the rest, a fear of being seen as an outsider.
For what should occur if they were to protest too strongly? Bigsby takes into context in saying,”What replaces this sense of natural community in the Crucible is a sense of participating in a routine, of conformity to a judgment orthodoxy and thus a shared hostility to those who threaten it.” (150 ). When Martha Corey informs Judge Hawthorne that she is innocent of being a witch because she understands not what a witch is, the Judge responds that if she doesn’t understand what one is how does she know she isn’t one? That exchange perfectly recorded the preposterousness of all of it.
It was a catch-22 therefore it was for those who opposed excessive then and now. This can specifically be seen whenever somebody champions the law in choosing the fate of presumed terrorists. Critics of holding trials on U. S. soil for suspected terrorists, checking out miranda rights to terrorist plotters, and following due procedure contend that those who disagree are for letting the terrorists win. In addition, it seems anyone who wishes to reverse the past 8 years in the method of due process is letting the terrorists win and admitting to their un-Americanness. Spectral proof” (Miller 4), widespread in the 1950’s likewise had made rather of a return in the instant after-effects of Sept. 11 where individuals across the land were outing and implicating individuals of plotting versus the state. I keep in mind people being afraid to say anything versus the federal government in public. Our phones were being wire-tapped after all. Amusing enough that such provisions were permitted under the appropriately called ‘Patriot Act.’ Individuals were motivated to spy on their neighbors and report any suspicious activity, in impact calling names.
However it went to extremes. People reporting on somebody who adamantly slammed Bush might have the FBI show up at their door the next day. It was a mirror image of Salem as well as 1950’s America. Bigsby sums up the essential eagerness of the day at that time [To be an un-American was to move outside a set of presumptions about national values and likewise beyond a language. Unexpectedly, the issue was commitment. In whose book had you signed your name, God’s or the Devils? And the finalizing of the names became a renowned gesture, once again in both durations.
If The Crucible has lots of petitions, warrants, confessions, then prior to the House of Un-American Activities Committee individuals were faced with their signatures on petitions, Party subscription kinds, published short articles, invoked now as proof of collusive and public subversion] (161) True, there have not been any committees like your house of Un-American Committee in the past decade, and the fervor of McCarthyism surpasses today day fear mongering in the Senate and Fox, but there is an ever present feeling that we might quickly revert to those days.
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After all, we still utilize torture and every strategy possible to push our accused simply as they carried out in 1692 Salem and as they did during the McCarthy period. The most striking resemblance though is the reaction to fear and the use of it by the effective to maintain and acquire power. That, it can be argued, has actually constantly existed in America. One just needs to turn on the tv to be reminded of that, particularly throughout the Bush years. We were advised each day with an orange or red color functioning as an approaching indication of terror.
The media accompanied it just like they accompanied declaring war on Iraq, offering the American individuals something they did not fully comprehend but afraid of nevertheless. So, it is not a stretch to state today that, “The Crucible” stands up to the test of time and is just as pertinent. Regrettably, its significance is most likely not going to disappear anytime quickly. Works Cited Bigsby, Christopher. Arthur Miller: A Crucial Research study. Cambridge; New York City: Cambridge University Press, 2005: 147-163. Print. Miller, Arthur. “Why I Composed The Crucible.” The New Yorker. 21 Oct. 1996: 158-163. Print.