There is a clear parallel between the events of 1692 in Salem and the political investigation of the 1950’s in America. What are the particular characteristics of this play, which makes its story timeless and universal? Timeless, universal and parallels to modern times, this is how we can describe Arthur Miller’s The Crucible as his play brought up many issues and many ways a small village can turn something so small into a mass hysteria. His play shows the power of one person and one event, and how these two small things resulted in the death of so many people.
With the conclusions we can draw from the play perhaps the most important point is that the events of such a widespread witch-hunt can still apply to matters all over the world to this very day. From America to china examples of prejudice and hysteria can still be told to this very day. In a lecture in the year 2000, at Harvard University, Millar spoke about a Chinese woman called Yuen Cheng, who wrote ‘life and death in shanghai’ about her six year solitary confinement under the cultural revolution in China.
After her release she went to see The Crucible and she was amazed that it was not wrote by a Chinese writer. This shows the universal relevance, as this is happening all over the world and how people are unaware of suffering others are put under even in such countries like America. Miller stated, “an ideological war is like a guerrilla war, since the enemy is first of all an idea whose proponents are not in uniform but are disguised as ordinary citizens, a situation that can scare a lot of people to death…. It was a time of great, no doubt unprecedented fear.
” This statement shows us that in many situations like them in The Crucible, many people are scared of everything and everyone and many of them are unable to hide from the terror and the injustice, which could follow. These characteristics of such a timeless event in our history connect so clearly with the injustice and extreme hysteria people still face today. In the early 1950s, Joseph McCarthy, exploited the fear of communism. He was able to create a national campaign against communists, ex-communists and anyone who had associated with them.
With the events of 1950s and the events in The Crucible we can draw many similarities from both events. One point, which is obviously seen, is the way the hysteria and the witch-hunts grew out of control and the terror and mistrust between friends and neighbours. However there are some people who believe that the hysteria and the conviction is all nonsense. In The Crucible John Proctor is not hypnotised by the hysteria and witch-hunt. He says “I never knew until tonight that the world is gone daft with madness. ” This proves that he is adamant that the witch-hunts and the terror in Salem are beyond sense and beyond reason.
His actions are much different compared to those in Salem as they are all wrapped up with terror and hysteria that there are witches in Salem. In the trails of 1950 in America Miller himself was called up to face the trials and like Proctor he found the trials ‘absurd and ridiculous. ‘ And he also stated ” I have never been able to believe in the reality of these people being actual putative traitors any more then I could be. ” This proves that in both the trials people thought that it was such a pointless act and stood up for what they believed in.
Although in many ways Proctor and Millar are the same the punishments they both received were very much different. At both of their trials they were asked to name people who had been seen with the devil or had attended communist meetings, both refused to do so and were punished for this. Millar was fined for contempt of congress and Proctor was hung. Even thought they are completely different punishments, they both stood up for what they believed and both thought the trials were pointless and were not afraid to show this.