It’s Arthur Miller’s birthday, so we’re going to talk about The Crucible.
But first, Miller, born in 1915 was an American playwright, essayist, and screenwriter, and was one of the most influential men in American Theater.
He was a celebrity, a big one, an not just because he was married to Marilyn Monroe, which he was.
He was a genius, and Monroe was supposed to have an IQ in the neighborhood of 170, so, I’m sure it wasn’t just the hot body, movie stardom, sex kitten thing that attracted him.
Although, that might have been it.
Marilyn wore a size 12 dress, BTW, just in case some of you ladies need a boost today.
Back to the story.
The Crucible is “about” the Salem Witch Trails. The story is dramatized and fictionalized a tad, but is largely representative of the events that took place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony back in 1692 and 1693.
In the Puritan New England town of Salem, Massachusetts, a group of girls goes dancing in the forest with a black slave named Tituba. The local minister and resident tight ass, Reverend Parris, catches them. One of the girls, Parris’s daughter Betty, falls into a coma-like state.
A bunch of busybodies invades the Parris home and rumors of witchcraft fill the town.
Reverend Hale, an expert on witchcraft, arrives and he and Parris question Abigail Williams, the alpha girl of the gang. She gives UP little, other than the whole things was about dancing. Sort of your Colonial “Footlose”!
There’s more of course, but, heck, you have to get this read before the boss comes in, so I’ll spare you. Let’s just say, trials are held, people crack under the Reverend’s Perry Masonlike demeanor, and, well, young witches must die.
So they do.
My picture is now on the dart board of every American Lit Teacher on the planet.
Written in 1953, the play is “really about” McCarthyism in the 1950s. Joe McCarthy was hounding Hollywood and the rest of the nation ferreting out Reds from under every bed.
Miler himself was questioned by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1956. He was convicted of “Contempt of Congress”.
I’m sure that most of us are suffering from that today!
The play debuted to hostile reviews, Miller felt it was too stylized and cold, but it went on to win the Tony award anyway.
It is now considered part of the cannon of American Literature.
The play is not historical in that the characters are the very same ones that were in the real Salem witch trials. Miller wrote his characters for his story. A story of a rush to judgement, misconceptions, preconceptions, and small mindedness.
OK, so it’s not all that spooky and scary, but the real trials were.
We’ll talk about them later.
Get back to work!