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To what Extent is 'The Crucible' by Arthur Miller an attack on the American Society of the 1950's?

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Introduction

To what Extent is 'The Crucible' by Arthur Miller an attack on the American Society of the 1950's? Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in 1953 during the McCarthy period when Americans were accusing each other of Pro-Communist beliefs. His purpose through writing 'The Crucible' was to express his own views on McCarthyism, and he does this through the main plot, the 17th century Salem witch hunt, which is an allegory of the trials during the McCarthy period. At the end of the play, the two most noble and honest characters are killed, and this is an exact replica of what was happening in America during the 1950s. The setting of Act 3 can be understood as an attack on the severity of the authorities in Salem and 1950's America. The language used in the opening stage directions is negative and disheartening, "solemn" creating an unwanted feeling throughout the audience, almost as if they are not meant to be there; 'even forbidding'. We are told that 'sunlight (is) pouring through two high windows' but is being swallowed by the darkness beneath. In the play, these stage directions can be understood as the light being Giles and John Proctor, who tell the truth, but Danforth, the darkness beneath, is hiding the truth. ...read more.

Middle

Abigail's dramatic entry, right at the climax of the scene, has a negative effect on the audience, as they already have an idea of how evil she is, and the extent to which she will go to get what she wants. She manipulates the mind of Danforth, who she is able to overpower, making him very uneasy at times, and shows him to be "weakening", he asks questions "apprehensively", and at times is "dumbfounded". This is because Abigail is the only way he can prove that he is in the right, and that years of studies have not gone to waste. By making Danforth's character so weak, Miller is condemning the fact that McCarthy is a weak man who has a closed mind over the things he says and does. The language throughout the whole scene is very extreme, 'Whore', for an extreme, negative effect on the audience. Mary is shown to be 'pleading' with Abigail and this shows the extent o fear in the people of Salem and in America in the 1950s. Mary Warren is unable to faint when asked to, and this immediately creates tension in the audience, as they, most probably, would want her to faint in order to save Proctor and Elizabeth. Her inability to faint only strengthens Abigail's case, and this would only strengthen what Danforth stands for. ...read more.

Conclusion

This has a negative effect on the audience, as they appreciate the injustice of McCarthy, and how the people were not doing anything to save anyone. The Crucible on a whole is a single issue play. The main plot evolves around the main characters of the play, and the other characters seem to be props to fill in the missing spaces. It is for this reason that the play lacks subtlety in both the plot and the characters, and why John Proctor is made to be the main character of the play, the only believable character that we can identify with. Having considered the dramatic nature of this scene, I believe that it criticises McCarthyism and is an attack on the American society of the 1950's. Miller does this by repeatedly showing the Salem citizens as ignorant and unintelligent. He attacks Danforth time and time again, showing him to be weak, and yet he is able to have power over the people, only because of the fact that he has higher authority then they have. The innocent characters are the ones who are killed, and the guilty characters are the ones who get away with their crimes. This highlights the very point that during 1950's America, there was no justice whatsoever, and the only people who ruled were those who were able to put fear into the hearts of others. ?? ?? ?? ?? Naaila Haq English Coursework 10g1 - 1 - ...read more.

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