Comparing The Crucible and Salem Witch Trials

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The purpose of my paper is to compare and contrast Arthur Miller’s The Crucible with the actual witch trials that took place in Salem in the 17th Century. Although many of the characters and events in the play were non-fictional, many details were changed by the playwright to add intrigue to the story. While there isn’t one specific cause or event that led to the Salem witch trials, it was a combination of events and factors that contributed to the birth and growth of the trials. Some of these events included: a small pox outbreak that was happening at the time, the revocation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony charter by Charles II, and the constant fear of Native attacks. These helped in creating anxiety among the early Puritans that they were being punished by God himself.

Arthur Miller was born on October 17, 1915, to Isidore and Augusta Barnett Miller. He was born into a family in which his mother was a teacher and his father, a prosperous manufacturer. He was not the greatest student (having failed Algebra three times) but instead was more interested in athletics during his teenage years. Having lost all of the family fortunes in the Stock Market Crash of 1929, after high school, Arthur went to work in a warehouse dealing with automobile parts. It was there that he picked up a copy of The Brothers Karamazov which influenced him into becoming a writer. A few years later, he was accepted to the University of Michigan where he majored in Journalism.

During his time in college, Miller wrote many plays which, in turn, he won awards for. His first play “The Man Who Had All the Luck” opened in Broadway in 1944 but, unfortunately, was short lived. Then in 1953, The Crucible opened on Broadway. While the play did focus on the W...

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... and biologically to explain the “bewitchment” of the young girls. They have come up with three basic psychological approaches when analyzing the trials: sexual repression in the Puritan communities in New England, the low status of women (they did in fact, have no say in matters, and men were thought of as much more intelligent), and the lack of opportunity for any sort of entertainment. Other scholars believe that the “diet of Salem villagers at that time might well have led to calcium deficiency, which is known to cause spasms and “hysterical” states”1 and that the claims that they were visited or choked by the accused witches could be linked to a condition known as sleep paralysis. But all these theories also lead to the question: Is it possible that every girl in this group suffered from sleep paralysis? Or could some of them have possibly been faking it?
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