How Does Miller convey his Message through The Crucible?

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How Does Miller convey his Message through The Crucible?

In this essay, I will explore the message communicated through 'The

Crucible' to its audience, and the way in which its author, Arthur

Miller, attempts to convey it, especially through one of the play's

main characters, John Proctor. The main issues raised by the play are

the role of the individual within society, the value of one's name and

perceptions of justice and truth. I shall endeavour to expand on all

of these topics and their relevance to the play.

Miller chose to write about a small settlement called Salem, in what

was (at the time the play was set) the 'New World', North America. He

had previously read a book entitled 'The devil in Massachusetts' by

Marion Starkey, and took an interest in the subject. He soon

discovered parallels between the problems faced by those who were

accused of witchcraft all those years ago, and those having to answer

charges of Communism or affiliation with Russia or her allies in any

way, in his present day situation. As in the story, the American

authorities had in their possession lists of names of people who had

for instance, supposedly attended a meeting of communist sympathises

(maybe even ten or twenty years previously). However they were still

keen for witnesses to name names, in return for their freedom.

Published in 1953, at the height of the McCarthy 'Witch hunts', 'The

Crucible', although concerned mainly with the witchcraft trials that

had taken place in Salem in 1692, was actually aimed at the

investigations made by the United States Congress in to subversive

activities throughout the country. Miller himself appeared before the

House Un-American Activities Committee in 1956. He was convicted of

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battle. When asked why he cannot 'confess' to save him self, he

exclaims, 'because its is my name! Because I cannot have another in my

life! Because I lie and sign my self to lies'. Proctor it seems,

gradually realises that he cannot, and will not lower himself to the

point of blatant lying even if it is to save his own life. However he

reduces himself to doing so, yet when he is asked to sign his

confession - on paper - he breaks down. Comprehending what he had

done, he retracts his statement, as it were, and exclaims 'Damn the

village, I confess to God'.

Still, many of the characters can not understand why Proctor will not

'give them this lie' Hale asks, 'what profits him to bleed…Shall the

worms declare his truth?' But Proctor, it seems has been raised to a

new level, above, beyond. An example to us all? For surely, 'He have

his goodness now'.
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