The Crucible - Cultural Context Essay

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The Crucible ‘The Crucible’ is a play originally written by Arthur Miller which was later adapted into a feature film. The play is set in Salem, Massachusetts in the year 1692 at the very height of what went down in history as the Salem witch trials; a massive hunt preying on people who were believed to be in contact with Satan. Miller wrote the play as a metaphor for McCarthyism, in which the very same principal applies only the hunt was for suspected Communists, not witches. Miller himself was accused of being a Communist, so therefore has the closest to firsthand experience possible in our modern day to what being one of the condemned was like. The world in which The Crucible unfolds is one very different from ours today. The people were mostly uneducated, small farmers who worked on land that was not their own. Religion was a huge factor in their lives; people attending church reverently at least once a day and believing firmly in the existence of a God and an afterlife. In their world, atheism was nonexistent; the idea of not having a God to believe in was a surreal, unbelievable concept which was highly dismissed as impossible. People rarely moved from the town they grew up in, generally marrying from an early age and starting families of their own within the town. Narrow mindedness and ignorance of the outside world ran rife in such places, which made the minds of these people very easy for one with even an ounce of suaveness to manipulate. As individuals, the villagers are harmless fools; however, they live as one body, ‘The Villagers’ exist as one single character within themselves. With this power of numbers they become dangerous. As their hysteria grows to epic proportions, the damage is immense. With only a single word, a single mention of the dreaded word ‘witch’, the whole town falls in panic. It is with the introduction of Abigail, that we, the
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