Saturday, January 10, 2015

88. "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin Books, 1995.

135 pages.

Reviewed by J. d’Artagnan Love

This review may be a trigger for those who have PTSD or related disorders as a result of religious fanaticism/fundamentalism.

In the introduction of Act One of The Crucible, Arthur Miller writes, “When one rises above the individual villainy displayed, one can only pity them all, just as we shall be pitied someday. It is still impossible for man to organize his social life without repressions, and the balance has yet to be struck between order and freedom” (7). This passage suggests that what happened in Salem during the witch trials is the enacting of an attitude that still crops up today. It’s the spark of panic that causes mass hysteria and paranoia. It’s the point at which we stop thinking for ourselves and just try to blend in to avoid persecution.

The Crucible is a dramatic depiction of the Salem Witch Trials. Broken up into four acts, The Crucible slowly builds in tension until the climatic and gut-dropping final scene. The Crucible was Miller's thirteenth published play and it examines the darker parts of human nature: fear, blame, and collective delusions. Literary theorists argue that the play is an allegory of McCarthyism. 

This paly is powerful not only for the way in which it brings history to life, but also for the uncomfortable feeling of knowing that something like this is possible and could happen again. I couldn’t help but think about some of the fundamentalist claims made in recent history and how those claims sounded a lot like the claims being made by the fanatics in The Crucible.

Similar to Animal Farm, The Crucible is an important piece of literature not just for its artistry but for its reminder to us that we should never forget the past, lest we end up repeating it.

5 darts out of 5

This play is FOR: people who like gritty, tense stories and historical fiction.

This play is NOT FOR: people who may have PTSD triggered by religious fundamentalism/fanaticism. 

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