THE CRUCIBLE



by Andrew Lawrence

The witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts in the early sixteen
hundreds was a time of uneasiness and suspicion. Anyone could
easily turn in his or her neighbor on the ground of witchcraft.
Someone could merely say their neighbor's spirit had attacked
them during the night, which no man can prove. Nevertheless, as a
God-fearing community, they could not think of denying the
evidence, because to deny the existence of Evil is to deny the
existence of Goodness, which is God.

The most important scene in the play was act two, scene three,
where John Proctor is able to talk with his wife, Elizabeth, one
last time. He decides that he will "confess" to the crime of
witchcraft, thereby avoiding being hung. However, to accept what
he said, the judge also requires him to sign a written confession
which states that he confessed to the crime of witchcraft. Judge
Danforth would post it on the church door, to use Proctor as an
example to get other people to confess. That upset Proctor
greatly, because people would look down on him with disdain, and
it would blacken forever his name.

What was most important to him was to make a stand against the
insanity of the town, for himself and for God, and using that as
a last resort to make people aware of what was happening. This
last stand for righteousness is an example of proctor's great
character and rationale.

Arthur Miller wrote his play, The Crucible, a story about the
Salem witch trials, and the panic resulting from it, as an
allegory to show people the insanity of the McCarthy hearings.
He wrote it as an allegory so that, if tried by McCarthy, he
could say, "it's just a play about the witch trials in
Salem. How do you get this communist idea from it?" The story
illustrates how people react to mass hysteria, created by a
person or group of people desiring fame, as people did during the
McCarthy hearings.

Arthur Miller, acting as a great visionary, warned us that if we
did not become aware of history repeating itself, our society
would be in danger. At the same time, he had to do this in a
matter that would not get him arrested, hence the witch-trial
mechanization.