Year of Wonders

Compare the ways in which The Crucible and Year of Wonders explore the conflict between appearance and reality. 12th Grade

Arthur Miller’s allegorical play, The Crucible, illustrates the parallels between the Salem Witch Trials and the HUAC communist crisis, highlighting the injustice of McCarthyism. Alternatively, Geraldine Brooks intertextually takes a cue from the John Dryden poem which inspired its title, Year of Wonders charts its protagonist’s growth as she endures a litany of horrors. The villages of Salem and Eyam are portrayed as similarly insular societies that suffer devastating upheaval. Whilst these crises differ in character, there are similarities in terms of the profound social distress induced, and the long-term consequences for those concerned. These crises create a conflict between appearance and reality, with individuals being blinded by false truths.

In the devout communities of Salem and Eyam, there is a willingness to look for metaphysical, rather than rational, explanations. When confronted with situations they don’t understand, they fall back on superstition. In The Crucible, Mrs Putnam cannot rationalize the loss of seven infant children, with each “wither(ing) in (her) arms the very night of their birth”. She can’t fathom their deaths and doesn’t believe that God could’ve forsaken her like that. Thus, when the witchcraft...

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