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Themes in 'The Crucible'

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Introduction

In the crucible Arthur Miller takes the chilling story of the Salem witch hunt in 1692 and combines it with the issues of McCarthyism in the 1950s. The play reflects Miller's ideas and opinions about McCarthyism and what he thinks are the similarities to the Salem witch hunts. Proctor is the main character Millers uses to reflect the unfairness of the Salem and McCarthy trials and how the truth died in the 1950s. This makes Proctor's role very dramatic and exciting. Miller also uses a dramatic licence to make this even more so - adding the love to Elizabeth and guilt about Abigail gives the story an intriguing twist. The whole nature of Proctor makes him an exciting and complex character; as a result this makes him entertaining to the audience and his complexity keeps the audience enthralled throughout the play. His personality is not boring or simple. He has a quick temper and is often angry, it seems he can't control his feelings. "?turning on her, rifle in hand? I will curse her hotter than the oldest cinder in hell." This has the effect of exciting the audience and adds interest (not to mention tension with this particular line) ...read more.

Middle

This techniques involve the audience as they make the audience develop opinions about issues in the play and care about what happens to characters. Proctor's use of emotion when he speaks is very dramatic and can, with the right actor be very moving. It would seem that Arthur Miller is trying to provoke feeling in the audience. John Proctor is also important to the play as he gives it a moral structure distinguishing different characters as good or evil. John fights for the innocents and for truth and because these are seen as good forces and Proctor is fighting for them this makes him a 'goodie' or good force. The fact that something which opposes good is evil means that anyone who opposes Proctor and so goodness is a evil force (a baddie). This means that Abigail is an evil force or 'baddie' because she opposes Proctor and Proctor is a 'goodie' even though Abigail is almost a victim because she could be seen as trying to get her love back and Proctor may have just lead her along. Another role of John is to add more human motives to the plot of the play. ...read more.

Conclusion

The similarity between McCarthyism and the Salem witch hunts adds drama and excitement for the audience because it relates the story to modern times. This would shock the audience in the 1950s because they think, "Wow, this is almost happening now" But this does not have as much potency in the 21st century as few people, especially in England, know about McCarthyism and those that do think that it has no relevance to them. John Proctor is the character which the audience relate to and have opinions about the most. They see him fight although he stands to loose everything and admire his courage. They see him battle against himself to sign a confession or tell the truth about Abigail and respect his conviction. They see him become almost a martyr or tragic hero as he dies for his belief in the truth and his pride in his name. These things add drama, excitement, structure and interest to the plot of the Crucible. He has a fatal flaw, whether it be his pride, attraction to Abigail or trust in Elizabeth, but this means the audience can relate to him. The Crucible is a story of Proctor's personal tragedy but it also a story of the Salem witch hunt, and of McCarthyism. Miller strikes a balance between these things to get the plot which makes up the Crucible. 1281 ...read more.

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