The Crucible

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The Crucible

By Andrew White

Adaptation of the Salem Witch Trials written by Arthur Miller

The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 were a caliginous time in American history. The moral superiority that engulfs the town in a time of great despair and deep divide accurately sums up the atmosphere of that period of injustice that will forever stain the town of Salem, Massachusetts. This is the subject matter for the play entitled “The Crucible”, written by Arthur Miller in 1953. According to the Teacher Vision “The play was adapted for film once, by Jean-Paul Sartre as the 1958 film Les Sorcières de Salem and by Arthur Miller himself as the 1996 film The Crucible, the latter with a cast including Paul Scofield, Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder. Miller's adaptation earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay based on Previously Produced Material, his only nomination. The play was adapted by composer Robert Ward into an opera, The Crucible, which was first performed in 1961 and received the Pulitzer Prize”. (“The Crucible” Teacher Vision; Family Education Network, 2001-2012. web. Nov 23, 2012. http://www.teachervision.fen.com/historical-fiction/literature-guide/3498.html)

Salem was just ripe for the picking when these atrocious accusations took place. Because the people Salem Village were Puritans and lived by a very strict moral code, they believed the Bible was to be followed letter for letter. They viewed witchcraft as being nothing more than the devil’s handiwork. Sometime in the spring of 1692, in the small Massachusetts village of Salem, a group of girls fell “ill”. They began having hallucinations and seizures. Their behavior became erratic, wild, and unpredictable. It was this behavior that caused the extremely religious people of Salem to suspect the girls were bewitched. It's ironic actually that the Puritans, who came to America to escape religious persecution, would practice such deliberate, cruel, and ignorant persecution themselves. At the center of all this evil injustice is a jealous and unstable girl named Abigail Williams.

One of the main reasons that Abigail “Abby” Williams was at the center of the accusations is that she was in love with a married townsman named John Proctor. John was an upstanding citizen in the town of Salem and he was rather pious about his character. Although he had a quick temper and was given to fits of anger he was known in town as a man of his word and a church going, law-abiding citizen. However, he was easily aroused to anger, especially when people disagreed with him. According to Quizlett, “In act two of the play Proctor says, "I will curse her hotter than the oldest cinder in hell. But begrudge me not my anger." He knows that he is easily angered but does not want Elizabeth to hold that against him”. In all of John’s morality he is human after all and in a moment of weakness has an affair with the overly mature and whorish Abigail. He immediately feels guilty and shame and begins to withdraw from Abigail altogether. He tries in vain to break away from her and hopes that she will go on with her life and forget him. But he has greatly underestimated her love for him. (“The Crucible”, Quizlett, LLC 2012. web. Nov 23, 2012 < http://quizlet.com/15068520/crucible-lines-for-john-proctor-act-1-scene-2-flash-cards/>) Because of this sin, he also begins to feel uneasy around his wife Elizabeth. Elizabeth is portrayed as sickly and cold and does not exhibit the warm and loving wife that Abigail believes John deserves. It is of little wonder why John has strayed, but nevertheless in Puritan times this iniquity was a stain upon the good name of any man. The actual affair took place before the play began and was only referenced on several occasions. Proctor’s guilt even spills over into an argument with his wife in which, according to Teacher Vision, he tells her "look sometimes for the goodness in me, and judge me not". This single act of...
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