Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible” is set in the 17th century in a village called Salem. It is written in the time of the McCarthy period in the 1950’s, when Joe McCarthy (senator of the USA) attacked people for communism. Joe McCarthy accused many people including Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for leaking information about the atomic bomb to the Russians; they were then executed on 19th June 1953. He even attacked Hollywood for communism; in one case he ordered Charlie Chaplain out of the USA for un-American activities.
The trials carried out by Joe McCarthy were very flawed and there were numerous appeals. The McCarthy period started when the Russians joined the ‘nuclear club’ sooner than expected, and caused paranoia across the USA. This is reflected in the Salem society because the population of Salem started to blame people for witch-craft to get themselves more respect and to settle grudges. This was then named the witch hunt. It is a puritan society that believes they themselves were chosen by God.
They also believe they could only work and pray; that the Universe was centred on God; and that man was sinful and corrupt but thankfully saved by God.
Their society was ruled by religion and was very rigid. This is ironic because the lies and trickery performed by the girls of the council goes against the Salem society, and yet they believe what they say. Reverend Parris of Salem was a high-ranking individual who demands a lot of respect that he thinks he deserves.
He is dogmatic and dominant and thinks himself to be the top man of Salem. His niece Abigail is soon to follow him by being a snob and constantly lying. Abigail is attracted to John Proctor, a man that in the Salem society is a dangerous man and is to be afraid of.
Reverend Parris’ maid Tituba is a black slave in her forty’s from the Caribbean. She is an innocent women but trouble always seems to follow her. Betty Parris (Reverend Paris’ Daughter) is thought to have been consumed by the devil; she was involved in an act of ‘conjuring’ and was then left unconscious, this is when the witch-hunt began. The play is set in the 1962 witch trials of Salem . This is when people were blamed for witch craft to settle grudges and rivalries. The trials were flawed and even the jury was lying.
This is linked to the McCarthy period because Joe McCarthy blamed others for communism to settle his grudges and rivalries against him. Abigail Williams is the niece of Reverend Parris. Abigail Williams is a young “strikingly beautiful” seventeen year old girl who is an orphan of low social status. She once had an affair with John Proctor when she was his maid; she was then ordered out of their house after John Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth Proctor, discovered this. Abigail Williams has a grudge against Elizabeth Proctor. Abigail is an aggressive woman, “I’ll beat you Betty!
” From this, the audience can tell how far Abigail will go to get out of trouble. In addition to this, we recognise how cruel and selfish she is. Furthermore, it shows that she doesn’t care about anyone other than herself; not even her cousin. Arthur Miller portrays Abigail Williams in this manner to shock the audience by presenting Abigail Williams as an outcast compared to all the other women in the village. When women are addressed in the Salem society, they are usually referred to as “Goody”; this isolates Abigail Williams because her reputation is “blackened in the village”.
Abigail Williams has strong feelings for John Proctor after the events which happened when Abigail Williams was John Proctor’s maid, “Gah! I’d almost forgot how strong you are, John Proctor! ” From this quote the audience can connote the deep feelings that Abigail Williams has for John Proctor. Use of the word “forgot” shows the audience that Abigail Williams and John Proctor had a past life together. This also outlines Abigail Williams grudge against Elizabeth Proctor. In addition, the stage direction “she comes a little closer, with a confidential, wicked air” shows the deep temptation that Abigail Williams has for John Proctor.
Abigail Williams has made a confliction for herself between John Proctor and herself, “My wife is innocent, except she knew a whore when she saw one! ” By use of the word “whore”, John Procter immediately shows the audience the disgust he holds for Abigail Williams for ruining his love life with Elizabeth Proctor. In later acts, John Proctor further shows the audience that he hates her for what she has done when he says “A whore’s vengeance”. By saying this John Proctor shows the audience how much his life has been ruined due to his affair with Abigail Williams.
Abigail Williams holds strong grudges against Elizabeth Proctor, “It’s a bitter woman, a lying, cold… ” This quotation shows the outright hatred she has for Elizabeth Proctor. By referring to Elizabeth Proctor as “it” shows a lack of respect because she talks about Elizabeth Proctor as if she was an object. Furthermore, Arthur Miller uses the rule of three to emphasise her pure hatred against Elizabeth Proctor. The words that Abigail William’s uses sound cold and dirty, this emphasises her rivalry against Elizabeth Proctor because Abigail William’s is trying to make Elizabeth Proctor sound like she has no heart.
When Abigail Williams is introduced, Arthur Miller makes us question her character, “with an endless capacity for dissembling. ” This stage direction shows the audience that Abigail Williams has a bad reputation. The use off the word “endless” shows that she will stop at nothing to get hew own way; it also puts the audience at the edge of their seats. Abigail Williams also has a reputation for doing anything to get herself out of trouble, “Not I, Sir- Tituba and Ruth. ” The audience recognises that Abigail Williams will lie to get herself out of trouble.
This is linked to the McCarthy period where people would blame other’s to climb higher in the social ladder. Arthur Miller also introduces the fact that Abigail Williams is ruthless, aggressive and selfish to the people that surround her. This is reflected in modern day life because Joe McCarthy was also very ruthless to his grudges and rivalries. The girls of Salem are scared by Abigail Williams because she is wicked and sly to them, “Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring you pointy reckoning that will shudder you.
” From this speech by Abigail Williams the audience can see Abigail Williams controlling the other girls that danced with her in the forest. By use of the word “black”, Abigail Williams tries to remind the other girls of the devil and scare them. In addition, “pointy reckoning” is used to scare the girls because it reminds them of the devil and they are extremely religious. Even the “der” in “shudder” provokes the feeling of endless pain. Abigail Williams developed her violent lifestyle when she was young, “I saw Indians smash my dear parents’ heads on the pillow next to mine, and I have seen some reddish work done at night.
” From this the audience can sympathise with Abigail Williams because she had a troubled child hood. However, Abigail Williams uses this speech to terrify the girls that danced with her in the forest. The phrase “next to mine” emphasises the close shave of death that Abigail Williams has had; she introduces to the girls that she has seen someone killed and she knows what its like. Abigail Williams enhances the fact that she has no problems to kill the girls of Salem by saying “I have seen some reddish work done at night.
” In addition, the personal pronoun, “I” underlines to the girls that she will do it herself. “Reddish” also enhances the gory and graphical image that Abigail Williams is trying to create inside the other girls heads to scare them further. This imagery does not scare Abigail William’s because she has seen it happen and she is not afraid. Abigail Williams is very good at lying, “If the girls a saint now, I think it is not easy to prove she’s fraud. ” From this dialogue by John Proctor, the audience can see that Abigail Williams has persuaded the court that she is a good citizen of Salem.
Using the word “saint”, John Proctor evokes the feeling that Abigail Williams has got herself a good reputation in the court’s mind. Reverend Parris is the towns Reverend. He has worked very hard to get in his position and he wishes to keep it. However, from Reverend Parris’ high status, he has become very paranoid. This is reflected in the McCarthy period because Joe McCarthy became Senate of the USA and he also got very paranoid. Reverend Parris is obsessed with his reputation and strides for a high status within the Salem society,” he cut a villainous path.
” This stage direction evokes the feeling that Reverend Parris is not entirely honest; the use of the word “cut” connotes that he some how cheated his way to this high ranking authority in the community. This reflects the time in which Arthur Miller was writing The Crucible because Joe McCarthy blamed people for communism to stay as the Senate of the USA. In Act One, Reverend Parris shows his concern for his high status and authority, “Abigail, I have fought here three years long to bend these stiff-necked people to me, and now, just now when some good respect is rising for me in the parish, you compromise my very character.
” From this quote the audience can see how paranoid that Reverend Parris has become. “Stiff-necked people” enhances the corrupt view of Reverend Parris has on the people of the Salem society; it also puts emphasis on the amount of grudges and rivalries that Reverend Parris has. Reverend Parris is obsessed with his high social status, “I am not some preaching farmer with a book under my arm; I am a graduate of Harvard College. ” From this quote the audience can see that Reverend Parris is trying to make himself look more important.
The use of the word “some” show that Reverend Parris doesn’t think himself to be just anyone. Reverend Parris also uses the word “farmer” to emphasise on his high education at Harvard College; also he uses “farmer” to belittle John Proctors low education and simple life and job. Reverend Parris is so eager to rise in social status that he shows little care for his own daughter, “They will howl me out of Salem for such corruption in my house.
” This quote connotes the fact that Reverend Parris does not care about Betty Parris, who is his own daughter. From the word “me” it is highlighted that he doesn’t care about his family; he just simply looks after himself and his authority. Furthermore, “howl” puts even more emphasis on how Reverend Parris thinks his grudges and rivalries will attack him if they think that he is corrupt. This is mirrored in the McCarthy period where Joe McCarthy blamed others for communism to make himself rise in the social ladder.