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Rebelling Against the Status Quo in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

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In a world where compromise is part of our daily experience, there is something to be
said for the rebel. Depending on the time, circumstances and historian, individuals who have
been found to revolt have been labeled everything from heroic revolutionary leader to mere
lunatic (albeit magnificent agitators). The actions and agendas of such rebels vary, as do the
means and modes of self expression. But one thing is certain – rebels capture our attention, if not
our collective imagination, and oftentimes strike a common chord found within the human spirit.
There is a certain element of excitement and dread attached to the idea of rebelling against the
status quos regardless of a given agenda. One of the more compelling heroes of revolt in recent
literary and theatrical history is Arthur Miller. Arthur Miller is arguably the most celebrated
playwright of the past half century and has secured a well earned place in the history of
playwrights of revolt.

Arthur Miller’s moderately humble beings as a child growing up in the shadow of New
York City did little to anticipate his eventual rise as a literary giant. Miller’s family was
“unequivocally middle-class and Jewish (Bigsby, page viii).” There were no notable experiences
that shaped him or propelled him in a particular direction. But Miller did have a desire to attend
the University of Michigan and when he was initially denied admission he went to work to
reverse the university’s decision. Miller gained employment to personally cover his tuition and
“wrote a letter to the president of the university and asked for a chance to prove his merit

(Bigsby, page viii).” He was eventually accepted and successfully earned a Bachelor of Arts

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plays. Miller was married three times (most notably to Marilyn Monroe), was active in liberal
movements, stood up against the House of Un-American Activities Committee and even
endeavored to write an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. From Joe Keller to
Willy Loman, John Proctor to Dr. Stockman, Miller championed the common-man’s struggle to
revolt against the world’s standards and their resolve, if not to live then to die on their own
terms. He asked hard questions, gave unpopular answers and articulated revolt in a way that
continues to stir generations.

Works Cited
An Enemy of the People, 1950, Henrik Ibsen, Adapted by Arthur Miller, Penguin Plays
The Crucible, Arthur Miller, 1952, Dramatists Play Service, Inc
The Portable Arthur Miller, 1971, Edited by Christopher Bigsby, Penguin Classic, Inc.

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