Historically Accurate Depiction of Salem’s Witch Trials in the Play Crucible
The play, The Crucible was written in 1953 by Arthur Miller to portray the practices of McCarthyism that dominated the US during that time. In his play, Miller demonstrates that when an individual inquiries the overwhelming estimations of a general public wherein the individual in question lives, sad clash can happen. Characters in the play have been used to portray a ‘larger message’ on many occasions.
The play tries to communicate with its audience, making the audience to relate it to its everyday American activities. The play has been performed severally with its first performance at the Martin Beck Theatre – it has several unique literature styles, plot and themes applied artistically to make it interesting. The play can be viewed as a general explanation on the impacts that dread and zeal can have on people and how one individual can cause such disaster.
Its main theme is morality and integrity within the society. The play employs the Salem witch trials of 1962 to represent acts of McCarthyism. It reveals the tragedy of a people who once accused tend to lose integrity due to social pressure. For example, the theme of integrity is revealed in the first act when Parris tries to protect his integrity by denying the presence of ‘unnatural factors’ in Betty’s illness. The play’s message is true as it assesses the moral conscience of an individual who when accused falsely by the uniform thinking of the majority in the society prefer protecting their reputation at the expense of their integrity and morality.
John Proctor is the protagonist in The Crucible while Abigail is the antagonist. His role helps build the plot of the play. His failure, guilt, and redemption propagate the author’s message of integrity and morality throughout the play. Abigail, in contrast, has a ruthless and manipulative character which enables her influence women to accuse their loved ones of witchcraft. She helps build the concept of McCarthyism in the play. Their goals make sense as they clearly portray the struggle of people to protect their integrity at the expense of morality and vice versa. The main conflict between Proctor and Williams arises when Proctor swears never to touch the latter despite his feelings for her. Williams, in contrast, accuses Proctor of taking her innocence. Proctor is later angered by her accusations that his wife practiced witchcraft. He, therefore, explains his discretion before the judges to save his wife.
The play has also incorporated various literature styles that have effectively helped in making it interesting. Irony is a literary style that helps in building an audience’s captivation of the play. It also makes the audience not to guess how the play plot is poised to be. For instance, the audience expects Proctor to have the upper hand in the case since he tries everything in his power to win the case. However, his statements in the court are dismissed, which is the opposite of the audience’s expectations. The irony, in this case, helps in making the play more thought-provoking, thus building upon the play’s audience base.
The best actor in the play is Elizabeth Proctor, while the worst character is Abigail Williams. Elizabeth Proctors plays an important role in bringing out the main theme of the play. She is morally upright and supports the decision of her husband to hung from the gallows rather than sign a false confession. She even refuses to go help her husband and opts to remain in jail. She successfully represents the group of people who stand for the truth in all situations. Abigail, in contrast, portrays the character of a manipulative, unforgiving, ruthless woman.
The set helps understand the play’s story, theme, and characters. The play’s set design maintains an air of desolation and solemnity, which indicates the sorrow experienced by those accused of witchcraft. For instance, the third act starts with a display of four windows, each revealing tree branches with no leaves. On the upstage, part sits the judge’s chair and other seats on either side to portray a courtroom setting. The bare tree branches revealed through the windows indicate the existence of mortality to those who fail to accept their practice of witchcraft. The windows also have orange lighting, which is an indication of the possibility of someone being hanged. The set, therefore, helps the audience understand the story, define each character’s roles, and comprehend the main theme of the play.
The play’s costumes also helped understand the characters, theme, and story in the play. Different costumes were used by the various characters in the play. They helped define a character’s personality and class. For instance, those who came from low classes wore ripped pants and baggy shirts while characters from the affluent class wore nice black shirts and dress pants. The costumes also help understand the period and events that existed during the time the play was produced. Similarly, the lighting and sound help perpetuate the story and theme of the play.
The rooms in which the acts were performed were dimly lit to reveal the somber mood of the play as well as the dark forces surrounding of witchcraft in the play. During the time of its production, there was no electricity; hence, candles and lanterns were used to light the rooms. The scene background is also well lit as compared to the actors to help the audience focus on the latter. On the other hand, audio aids are used to place the audience in the desolate and somber mood of the play. For instance, the first act opens with mysterious music. In another scene, ladies seated around the pot use whispers while other women scream while jumping.
The play, “The Crucible,” has been developed artistically to suit the literature quality required. It has applied literature styles that have been effective in the delivery of the play’s plot. Also, the styles, together with the themes, have ensured that the play captures the audience’s interest. Plays should capture interesting concepts such as the “The Crucible” to help in making them relevant in the literature world.
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