The Parallels Between Arthur Miller's Life And His Play, The Crucible

1490 words - 6 pages

Few people are willing to stand up to the overwhelming power of authority, especially during a time like the Red scare. Hardly any authors are able to recognize meaningful similarities between the present times and an event that happened many years ago—and write about it effectively. Only one has had the courage and intelligence to do both. Arthur Miller was an American author who wrote plays, essays, and stories and has published works dating from to 1936 through 2004. The Crucible, one of his most famous plays, premiered in New York on January 22, 1953 (InfoTrac). It is a historical-fiction story set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. The witch hunt described in this play is similar to the Red Scare, an anti-communist movement led by Senator Joseph McCarthy that lasted from the late 1940s to the late 1950s (Broudin). During both time periods, most people respected high authority while a few dissenters challenged conformist views. The public was censored in what they could say because of the fear of being accused of witchcraft or communism. The hysteria of the times triggered a mob-mentality to emerge among the citizens, which influenced nearly everyone to join the terrible movements. Miller presents all of these ideas in The Crucible using his own experiences as influences. He incorporated many of his own traits into the characters’ dispositions. He also described many situations in the play that were similar to the ones he was in, including how he was censored by the Red Scare. Many people will often conform while only a few will challenge authority, will use censorship to prevent others from expressing their views, and are easily affected by hysteria; these characteristics influenced Miller’s life and are reflected by him in The Crucible.
Miller’s traits are very similar to those of John Proctor, a major character in The Crucible. When Miller came across Proctor in his studies of Salem, it became evident that the two had much in common. For example, they both had unstable relationships with their three wives (InfoTrac/Answers.com/None Without Sin). “Moving crabwise across the profusion of evidence,” Miller says in his article Why I Wrote The Crucible, “I sensed that I had at last found something of myself in it, and a play began to accumulate around this man.”
Miller, Proctor, and Giles Corey, another important role in The Crucible, are similar in that they all admitted to their “crimes,” but refused to blame others. Miller was expelled from a script-writing project in New York because he had communist relations. He was questioned by the House Un-American Activities Committee, or the HUAC, about his political beliefs. Miller admitted that he had attended a few informal Communist Party meetings a long time ago, but when the HUAC asked him who else had participated in the meetings, Miller refused to give names. He was charged, tried, and convicted of with contempt of Congress in 1957 (InfoTrac). Although an appeal overturned this conviction...

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