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The Crucible Is Still Relevant Today

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The Crucible Is Still Relevant Today

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  • March 2010
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“The Crucible,” a play by Arthur Miller later turned into a major Hollywood movie, explores the politics of fear, social norms, and the fight to recapture a man’s moral compass. Miller paints his story using the small tight knit community of Salem circa 1692 as his canvass, brilliantly weaving historical fact and fiction to portray a scenario not unlike events seen since. The infamous witch hunts of 1692 and wild accusations of a subversive culture that threatened to tear away at the fabric of society are at the center of the film. Originally conceived in the 1950’s during the red scare, it is well known and accepted that Miller sought to highlight the similarities with the ongoing persecutions of accused communist sympathizers. The mass hysteria and destruction of the individual at the hand of society’s values reflected in the play perfectly encapsulated the atmosphere of 1950’s America. Miller’s thought provoking play was viewed then with much criticism, drawing the ire of the Right, due to its implied message of hypocrisy and subconsciously questioning what he viewed as malfeasance. But does Miller’s “The Crucible” still resonate today? I will argue that it does. In doing so, I feel it is imperative to try and understand the initial reaction to the play and how it mirrored the times. I will then look for similarities in the present day citing examples from the past eight years in particular. There are three main attributes of “The Crucible” that I will be focusing on which include fear tactics, power struggles, and challenge to conformity. In examining these within the context of the play I will seek to draw parallels not only with the 1950’s but present day America as well. The story revolves around the accusations from a vengeful girl, Abigail, whose past affair with an older married man, John Proctor, leaves her wanting more. Proctor makes clear to her that he had made a mistake in having an affair with Abigail and from there the hysteria...

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