‘The Crucible ‘ by Arthur Miller, is set in 1692, on the Salem witch trials and compared with McCarthyism in 1950’s, the time it was written. ‘The Crucible’ is a fictional retelling of events in American history surrounding the Salem witch trials of the seventeenth century, yet it is as much a product of the time in which Miller wrote it, the early 1950’s, as it is a description of a Puritan society. I will be describing my ideas on the performance and the production of the asides in act one of ‘The Crucible’.
One of the main motives of asides is to explain the similarities in 1690’s and1950’s. ‘The Crucible’ is a story with an underlying meaning as well as the literal one. Although 1690’s and 1950’s are very different, Miller has portrayed the same allegory. Miller is trying to prove that “history repeats itself. ” He does this by proving that people were stupid to believe in witches in the seventeenth century, just like people believed in McCarthyism in America in the 1950’s.
Today we are repeating similar mistakes, as we consider war as the solution to the Iraq crisis. Getting the message across to audience is very hard as it is no longer 1950’s nor do people know much about McCarthyism. During the 1690’s Puritans also ‘repressed’ in England and power then was held by Church, theocracy, those who were landowners held a lot of power. Cromwell had taken power by junta. At that time Salem was in a state of unrest because the old laws were no longer as necessary. Witch-hunting was also causing unrest in Salem.
The crisis, of witchcraft, began to increase and doubts began to develop concerning the vitality of the charge. Just like in America the educated people of the colony began efforts to end the witch-hunting hysteria that had surrounded Salem. To explain this complicated allegory successfully, asides are used. 1950’s was a decade of unrest in America as there were a lot of economical depressions following world war two, democracy and capitalism problems. More over McCarthy was troubling people by misusing his powers.
The hunting down and prosecuting of any Americans who were thought to have taken part in anti-capitalism. The accusations became hysterical and many people were asked to ‘name names’ of people in meeting held many years previously. By 1962 many people started going against McCarthy. Miller uses the Salem witch-hunt to present his views on McCarthyism, The prosecuting of any Americans who were thought to have taken part in anti-capitalism, is similar to the hunting down of suspects of witchcraft. The asides are a very effective way of telling long story in short.
The narrator may explain the situations, introduce new characters or even give his own opinion to get the message across to the audience. The narrator is particularly needed for Act 1, as the setting and different characters need to be introduced to audience. Another reason why asides are important to be narrated is, the allegory in the story for which the audience needs to follow the story right from the beginning. Therefore it is vital that the narrator of the aside is someone, who the audience is likely to pay attention to.
Ideally a literate person who can judge people correctly and has the power to catch the audience’s attention with his voice. I think it’s a good idea if the narrator is one of the charters from the play. Having one of the characters to narrate the play is a very effective method of providing information to audience. He is likely to get more attention because the audience is familiar with the person. In ‘A view from the Bridge’ Miller uses a lawyer to narrate the play, which I think works really well because he used someone who is very intelligent and respected.
Similarly a positive character could be used in this play to talk to audience. I chose Reverend John Hale, from this play to read the aside in act one, as the audience will be more familiar with the character when he comes later on in the act and introduces himself. Miller is interested in people who do not allow them to be caught up in hysteria but think for themselves and stand up for their believes against all odds. Similarly Hale backs this point, towards the end where he learns how things are going wrong.
Hale changes his opinions as he gets more knowledge about the things going around him. The narrator’s opinion about things needs to be the same as that of author, because a person with different views cannot talk about views, which he does not believe in. Miller believes that society is never an excuse for our failings, and that we are responsible for ourselves, such a person is John. John tries to save the lives of innocent people wrongly accused of witchcraft. He is the only Judge who tried to save Reverend Proctor.
However human weakness and guilt sometimes drag him down but still his character is positive. As millers describes John ” He feels himself allied with the best minds of Europe… ” Miller is trying to say how self-centred John is but at the same time he is telling us that John is intelligent. The audience is more likely to listen to such person because of his reputation. The key reason for having a character from the play as a narrator is that the audience is familiar with the person; therefore Hale should narrate the asides in his normal character clothes, speech and movement.
A good way of introducing characters is to let the person perform their most common role in the background and the narrator standing in front talking about the person. For example when Reverend Parris is introduced, John Hale could be standing in the front saying, “… there is very little good to be said for him. ” while Parris is in meeting in Church talking, but has no one listening. Since the asides in this play are not only introduction, doing so will lose the consistency of the asides, and the audience will not be clear whether it’s an aside or part of the play.
Therefore while he is standing motionless on the stage and reading the asides where the stage is dark and a spotlight on the character and deep voice with no background music. The shining of bright light on Hale while the stage is all black will give him almost a god like image. It’s only him talking and, there is no other option but listen to him. The pause in music will make the audience concentrate on the aside by having nothing else but John to listen to. His voice should have extra bass added to it.
Radio experiments show that if the voice of presenters have bass then the listeners are more likely to remember what they listen to. The stage is all difficult to obscure and there is only one glow in the theatre approaching from John Hale while he states about Parris in his deep tone “his house stood in a “town” – but we would hardly call it a village today. ” The best way to perform asides in this play is to have a character from the play narrate the asides while full attention is given to him. The most suitable character would be Hale because the way he thinks about matters and his intelligence make him exceptional.