English 12 AP
“Criticizing The Crucible”
The novel, The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, is looked at in two different ways. It has been viewed as a novel that takes place during the Salem witch trials but also as a metaphor to the McCarthy era and a terrible period in American history.
Arthur Miller was very “disappointed by the critic’s reactions” (Analysing the Historical Content) towards his novel. Most critics were declaring Miller’s novel as an allegory to 1950’s America. Miller did not write the novel as an allegory as the critics thought he did. He discusses The Crucible’s theme stating: “I am not sure what The Crucible is telling people now, but I know that its paranoid center is still pumping out the same darkly attractive warning that it did in the fifties. For some, the play seems to be about the dilemma of relying on the testimony of small children accusing adults of sexual abuse, something I’d not have dreamed of forty years ago. For others, it may simply be a fascination with the outbreak of paranoia that suffuses the play—the blind panic that, in our age, often seems to sit at the dim edges of consciousness. Certainly its political implications are the central issue for many people… ” (Storytelling” 164). Miller, at this point, understands what people believe his novel to be. Miller claimed, “No critic seemed to sense what I was after, which was the conflict between a man’s raw deeds and his conception of himself” (Analysing the Historical Content). Miller was just writing a novel that takes place in 17th century Salem, about a man with problems he has to overcome as stated, “Both women and men will empathize with John Proctor as he struggles to come to terms with himself as a human being subject to flaws, yet able to rise above his own concerns to help humankind” (“Storytelling”). Miller wrote the novel about John Proctor rising above his problems in his life also in his community. It is difficult to get anybody in his community to listen, “Although John Proctor changes from a man concerned with the individual to a man concerned with his community, the story is an apparent dilemma because his change does not stop the madness in the environment” (“Storytelling”). His community is corrupt because nobody listens to reason; nobody ever wants proof; he/she just believes anything the people in the court room say, “The Crucible shows how easily people can be swayed, with the barest of evidence, to believe something that is false” (“Customer Reviews”). Many innocent people died because nobody ever asked for evidence, “The major theme of this tragedy concerns ways that superstition and rumor, rooted in a strict religious community, linked to political power without legal restraint, lead to the persecution and deaths of many innocent people.” (“The Crucible by Arthur Miller: A Study Guide”). Even though John began to see the truth in his town, he still couldn’t save it; he couldn’t stop the madness that occurs there. The characters in The Crucible have issues going on in their minds, “Suspicion founded on envy and ignorance is a thematic issue that affects all of the characters in The Crucible: ‘Old scores could be settled on a plane of heavenly combat between Lucifer and the Lord; suspicions and the envy of the miserable toward the happy could and did burst out in the general revenge’ (Miller 8).” (“Storytelling”). Most of the characters were very greedy, wanting more and more land; they began to accuse their neighbors of being witches to get them to be hanged and then take their land, “…for example Act three, page 77, when Giles Corey confronts Thomas Putnam and points out to the court that Putnam stood to gain from everyone else’s losses. It also meant that people were highly suspicious of one another and reported everything as witchcraft” (“Customer Reviews”). Abigail is the most naive character of this novel, “Abigail believes that as of this moment John...