Arthur Miller

The language throughout The Crucible is what Arthur Miller portrayed as seventeenth century. When Miller started to write The Crucible his first source of information were the actual court records in which all the court proceedings are minutely transcribed. In Millers autobiography ‘Timebends’ he says ‘I wanted to study the actual words of the interrogations, a gnarled way of speaking … and I came to love its feel like hard, burnished wood. Without planning to, I even elaborated a few of the grammatical forms myself, the double negatives especially.

‘ This elaboration is most definitely apparent throughout the play. Miller has cleverly managed to give us speech that is old and therefore sets the scene, without too much of a difference from modern language, that we find ourselves struggling to translate. Words such as ‘Aye’, ‘Nay’ and ‘Harlot’ though all words that are considered old fashioned and seventeenth century, are not words of which we fail to understand the meaning. The language in this play does not just set a time scene but also a religious one.

The language and vocabulary featured in this play is very much based on the King James Version of the Bible. A prime example of this: when Elizabeth tells John of Mary’s visit to the courts, she describes the power of Abigail and the girls with a scene from the Old Testament. ‘Abigail brings the other girls into court and where she walks the crowd will part like the sea for Israel. The whole way through the play there are constant references to the bible and to religion. The society portrayed to us in Act two is strictly religious church and state laws are one and the same.

In the puritan nature that this book describes you are either with God or with the Devil. The Crucible links very strongly into McCarthyism, and was written at about the same time. McCarthyism, named after Joseph McCarthy, was a period of extreme anti-communism and suspicion in America. The period lasted from the 1940’s to the 1950s. During this time thousands of American citizens were accused of being communists or communist sympathisers, this lead to aggressive investigations and questioning.

The main suspects were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. Suspicions were often given credibility without conclusive or solid evidence. This led to people becoming unemployed and unable to work in their desired field ever again. In 1956, the McCarthyism was at the beginning of its end and Arthur Miller was summoned to appear before the committee of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

The happenings of McCarthyism and the witchcraft trials that had taken place almost two centuries before became linked in the mind of Arthur Miller. The America Citizens are represented by Puritans, and the harsh investigations representing themselves. I think that Arthur Miller chose to write ‘The Crucible’ at this time to reflect to everyone how ridiculous the things happening around them were. ‘The Crucible’ is a play that covers issues such as religion, theft, guilt and hysteria and a play that I really enjoyed reading.

I thought that it portrayed its themes and hidden meanings superbly, as well as being a good read. Whilst reading this text I often came to forget that I was in fact reading a script, and so though my appreciation was more for the story line than anything else, I still believe it to be a well written play, and something that I would most definitely want to see if given the chance. Act two proved itself one of the most important Acts as it is the act that leads up to the climax of the story and ties everything together.

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