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Analysis of Arthur Miller's Presentation of Abigail

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Introduction

Analyse Arthur Miller's presentation of Abigail Williams in 'The Crucible' Arthur Miller wrote the play "The Crucible" in 1953 which was in the middle of the McCarthy political 'witch-hunt' in America. However the story had appealed to the playwright for many years, therefore 'The Crucible' can be described as a political parable as it was inspired by the decade of McCarthyism. Miller wrote the play set in an area of Massachusetts called Salem in 1692 where some adolescent girls were dabbling with supernatural powers and witchcraft. They were eventually jailed and the jails were filled with men and women accused of witchcraft. Ultimately twenty people ended up hung. The inhabitants of Salem were rigid in their interpretation of the Bible, believing in witches and the Devil. They believed also that the Bible instructed them that witches must be hanged. This relates to the McCarthy trails that were happening in the USA during the 1950s as the trails were about the admission of adherence to communism, consequently witnesses were brought before the committee to name names. This naming approach was very similar to the process of witch trials; Miller then began to relate this to the public confessions as parallel with the naming of names at Salem in 1692. Subsequently Arthur Miller wrote a play in relation to this and uses Abigail to convey similar ideas to the McCarthy Trials in the 1950s. ...read more.

Middle

Consequently people can't accuse her, which because of her selfish behaviour leads her on to accusing Tituba by saying 'She makes me drink blood!' This describes Abigail's destructive nature and the deviousness of Abigail's thinking put into practice. From this I can call Abigail opportunistic as she has seen a way out; she has explored it and taken it. While this is selfish behaviour, it is certainly a very clever move by Abigail to relieve some of the pressure from her and give her a chance to think about what she is going to say next. The audiences' response from this action taken by Abigail is that it is ludicrous that she can accuse somebody and say a few words and make the court believe her. This links in with the McCarthy trials because all the court was interested in was names and they were so desperate for a name that once one was named with a motive they seized it. At the end of Act One after implicating Tituba, Abigail remained quiet. Abigail is silent in this scene which gives her time to carefully listen to the proceedings about Tituba and intelligently use it for her next speech. Therefore she is being clever and cunning by using the available time in which she is not being questioned to be able to think and understand what the other characters are saying and then devise her own speech accordingly. ...read more.

Conclusion

This was mainly due to the short sightedness of the court which had dealt with the witch trials. If somebody was accused of being a witch the verdict of the person would already have been decided, although they would face the court to discover whether they were a witch or not, ultimately they would face a death penalty. However we know witches didn't exist, therefore I refer to the witch trials as a death penalty. To allow this to occur the social conditions of Salem in 1692 included fairly rapid social change, a distrusted outside political authority and new opportunities for betterment which were not evenly distributed throughout the population, caused increased social inequality. The conditions during the 1950s that made McCarthyism possible were at a time of America distrust between capitalism and communism, as communists had gained information on a weapon of mass destruction. McCarthy was the head of the investigation committee investigating the different government departments and they were questioned about the loyalty to their country. Both of these social conditions are comparable to that of each other that allow for such mass hysteria trials. The play still has relevance today in the fact that if there are the correct social conditions then it will occur, however on a smaller and not on such a drastic scale, consequently having no real relevance in the eyes of today's court. ...read more.

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