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Arthur Miller was born in 1915 and wrote one of the most successful historical plays, “The Crucible”. “The Crucible” was written in 1953 America. Fear of communism s scoured the country and the McCarthy witch-hunts and trials began. It was all about self-preservation, so why write a play knowing the danger you were putting yourself in? McCarthy began widespread research into finding people with any capitalist thoughts or even the slightest sympathy. Anyone who was thought to be in anyway capitalist would be brought to caught and persecuted until the ‘truth’ was found.
Before the play was written, Miller was not suspected to be a communist. Despite this, those who were in the public eye were closely watched due to their ability to affect the thoughts and ideas of public. I think that seeing the witch hunts from a distance, as Miller did, rather than being directly involved, Miller saw what was going on without having a blurred point of view as others did who were being directly faced with this problem. As Miller saw what was happening, he realised that he himself could not take any direct action, or speak out against these witch-hunts.
He did, however, realise that he could make other Americans see how they were acting towards each other and how vengeance and paranoia were the main cause to this widespread hysteria. Miller realised that his main strength that he had to try and prevent this hysteria from developing further was to write a play, in hope that the audience would see what images and ideas he was trying to portray, instead of being ‘just a play’. Humans as a race do not seem to learn from their mistakes, for if they did, World War II would not have occurred.
This, for Miller, turned out to be to his advantage, as he managed to find a parallel with 1950’s America and 1692, Salem. This play turned out to be one of the most relevant plays of the past and of today. The reason to why Miller used the idea of witchcraft instead of McCarthyism is obvious; because had he said directly that he did not agree with the actions being taken, he would have been taken to court, but the idea of witchcraft also had another effect.
As well as it making the play highly successful and an interesting topic for the audience watching the play, it made it seem more of an outrageous idea, that things could get so out of hand. When someone came out of the theatre, they may have thought, that it was ridiculous but later realised that they themselves were being just as ridiculous. There are very obvious links between the play and what happened in America 1950 and Salem, 1692.
These links are used to create a connection between the two different times. Miller, however, could not just write any play, he had to make a production that would sell and bring flocks of people. The words ‘witch craft’ create interest because of the natural curiosity towards the unknown. Because of this, this subject could be used for not only his purpose to try and make the public see and understand what was going on, but to also try and gather audiences.
The play had to be exciting and to make it interesting he had use a combination of theme, structure, setting, character and language to create dramatic effect. The structure of this play is used to create a panic the gradual feeling of a loss of control over what is happening. Once the play begins, things are controlled and setting, character and the base of the story are established. Slowly, this disintegrates until everything spirals out of any order and gains momentum as it progresses.
The lengthy stage directions are full of detail for the acting out of the play as to get the right impressions across from the actors to the audience. As well as these stage directions, there are also fairly long character history passages. That give actors not only general information about their character like how old they are, but how they conduct themselves towards others, why they behave in that manner, and how their upbringing and experiences affect the way they think and feel.
The first act is the longest of the four, giving the raw materials for the tragedy to take form. In this first act, this story that gains momentum could have been stopped at any time just by stopping and taking a look carefully at what had happened, instead of each character passing the blame from one person to another. As the story becomes more intense, so do the scenes, becoming shorter and uncomfortable for the characters involved in the scene.