The Crucible

need help with the ?

in need tp know in what ways do details of historical context, including the status of women, and why women were accused of witchcraft?

thx -dan

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When analyzing Miller's historical perspective it's necessary to look at three different things: the play's world (its time, setting, and happenings); the world of the playwright (his modern history, what period is Miller living through and how do the two compare), and what the world is like when an audience sees the play or reads it (every generation will have a different perspective).

The Crucible takes place in Salem, Ma., 17th Century. Salem's settlers were Puritans who'd traveled to the New World for religious freedom; their beliefs and customs were strictly adhered to and breaking the rules was punished with banishment from the community. Miller's female characters in The Crucible are objects of "mistrust," almost all of the accused are women, but why?

Next, a look at the author's time and place. the Crucible was written in the 1950's. This was a time of political unrest, or maybe not......... let's go with fear, mistrust, and the accusations that followed. The House of Un-American Activities Commission Hearings were ongoing during this time as a response to Mccarthyism; Miller was called to testify and refused the court's order to name anyone he knew with communist sympathies. He refused and was convicted of contempt (later exonerated). The McCarthy witchhunt per se, directed influenced the author and gave him personal experience and insight to what was another form of hysteria. You can contrast both events, and this is whar Miller did with this play.

Lastly, you as an audience needs to relate this play to something you've experienced. Is there something happening today that's a result of hysteria or a mass movement? Has fear caused unjust accusations in your own modern world? Was the rebellion of the girls in The Crucible at all similar to the women's movement here in the United States?


The Crucible