Arthur Miller's Motivations for "The Crucible" and the Role of John Proctor

Topics: Salem witch trials, The Crucible, Witchcraft Pages: 3 (999 words) Published: May 26, 2009
When Arthur Miller reflected on his play The Crucible over 40 years after he created it, he wrote in an English newspaper that at that time he wanted the opportunity to write an aggressive play. His intention was to bring this slow moving process to light, which shows that massive social pressure and terror can rob people of their conscience and later their personality.

He wrote it under the influence of hysteria fuelled by the House on Un-American Activities. In 1947, that Committee held hearings for nine days. “Into alleged communist propaganda and influence in the Hollywood motion picture industry.” After conviction on contempt of Congress charges for refusal to answer committee questions the so called "Hollywood Ten" were blacklisted by the industry which meant the end of their carrers. More than 300 artists were boycotted by the studios and had massive trouble to find work in America or felt forced to move away for instance to Great Britain. Some of the accused were friends and colleagues of Arthur Miller. A big impact on him left the case of his close friend Elia Kazan in 1952. After first refusing to cooperate with the committee he gave names of members of the Communist Party. That was an act, which marked him for the rest of his life for instance when he was loudly critisized when receiving an Oscar for his life achievements

In 2000 Arthur Miller wrote in the Guardian about that time: “My basic need was to respond to a phenomenon which, with only small exaggeration, one could say paralysed a whole generation and in short time dried up the habits of trust and toleration in the public discourse.” and he added: “One would hope that a work of art might illuminate the tragic absurdities of an anterior work of art that was called reality, but was not. It was the very swiftness of the change that led into surreality.”

“On a lucky afternoon” as Miller called it, he read “The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Inquiry into the Salem Witch Trials” by...
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