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Introduction to The Crucible


Introduction to The Crucible Arthur Miller and ... Miller used many of these ideas when writing The Crucible. Miller wrote The Crucible not simply as a straight ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction to The Crucible

Introduction to The Crucible
  • Arthur Miller and Joseph McCarthy

Arthur Miller
  • Born in New York City on Oct. 17, 1915
  • Began writing plays while a student at the
    University of Michigan, where he studied

Background of author
  • His father, Isidore Miller, was a ladies-wear
    manufacturer and shopkeeper who was ruined in the
    Great Depression.
  • The sudden change in fortune had a strong
    influence on Miller and affected many of his plays

AM and MM
  • Miller married the motion-picture actress Marilyn
    Monroe in 1956 they divorced in 1961.

  • His first successes were All My Sons (1947) and
    Death of a Salesman (1949)
  • Miller condemned the American ideal of prosperity
    on the grounds that few can pursue it without
    making dangerous moral compromises (think about
    what his family went through during The Great

(No Transcript)
The Cold War in America
  • At the end of World War II, the United States and
    the USSR emerged as the worlds major powers.
    They also became involved in the Cold War.
  • Many Americans feared not only Communism around
    the world but also disloyalty at home.
  • A lot of Americans thought the Soviets got the
    atomic bomb by using spies. It was charged that
    secret agents, working under cover, had stolen
    our secrets and given them to the Enemy.
  • These spies supposedly were hardly ever Russians
    themselves, but often American citizens, the kind
    of people you see every day on the street and
    hardly even notice. It was felt that a Communist
    could be anybody.

  • Congress began to investigate suspicions of
    disloyalty. The House Un-American Activities
    Committee (HUAC) sought to expose Communist
    influence in American life.
  • Beginning in the late 1940s, the committee called
    witnesses and investigated the entertainment
    industry. Prominent film directors and
    screenwriters who refused to cooperate were
    imprisoned on contempt charges.
  • As a result of the HUAC investigations, the
    entertainment industry blacklisted, or refused to
    hire, artists and writers suspected of being

Joseph McCarthy
  • Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin gained power
    by accusing others of subversion.
  • In February 1950, a few months after the USSR
    detonated its first atomic device, McCarthy
    claimed to have a list of 205 Communists who
    worked in the State Department.
  • Although his accusations remained unsupported and
    a Senate committee labeled them a fraud and a
    hoax, McCarthy won a national following.

  • McCarthyism came to mean false charges of
  • In September 1950, goaded by McCarthy, Congress
    passed the McCarran Internal Security Act, which
    established a Subversive Activities Control Board
    to monitor Communist influence in the United
  • McCarthys influence continued until 1954, when
    the Senate censured him for abusing his
    colleagues. His career collapsed.

The HUAC and Hollywood
  • HUAC investigated communism within Hollywood,
    calling a number of playwrights, directors and
    actors known for left-wing views to testify.
  • Some of these, including film director Elia
    Kazan, testified for the committee to avoid
    prison sentences
  • The Hollywood Ten, a group of entertainers,
    refused to testify and were convicted of contempt
    and were sentenced with to up to one year in

The Hollywood Ten
  • These industry workers called before the HUAC to
    testify about their ties to communism knew they
    had three options.
  • They could claim they were not and never had been
    members of the Communist Party (this would have
    meant perjuring themselves)
  • They could admit or claim membership and then be
    forced to name other members (and this would have
    meant losing their jobs both because of their
    former membership and their dubious position as
  • They could refuse to answer any questions (which
    is the choice they made).

  • Over 300 entertainers were placed on a blacklist
    for possible communist views and were thus
    forbidden to work for major Hollywood studios
    (many of these were writers who worked under
  • Arthur Miller was one of those blacklisted.

  • Miller admitted to the HUAC that he had attended
    meetings, but denied that he was a Communist.
  • He had attended, among others, four or five
    writer's meetings sponsored by the Communist
    Party in 1947, supported a Peace Conference at
    the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, and signed many
    appeals and protests.
  • Refusing to name others who had associated with
    leftist or suspected Communist groups, Miller was
    cited for contempt of Congress

  • McCarthyism and The Crucible
  • Even if you had no Communism in your own past,
    you could easily be in the same position as
    Arthur Miller- you knew someone who did. That was
    more than enough to get you in trouble with
    Senator McCarthy and similar investigators.
  • Miller used many of these ideas when writing The

  • Miller wrote The Crucible not simply as a
    straight historical play detailing the Salem
    witch trials.
  • A good deal of the information in the play
    misrepresents the literal events of the trial at
    the time of the trial, John Proctor was sixty
    years old and Abigail Williams only eleven.
  • The play is a parable for the McCarthy era, in
    which similar witch hunts occurred targeting
    citizens as communists rather than disciples of
    the devil.