Arthur Miller, The Crucible (1953)
Edition used: Penguin Classics
In the first part of this lecture, Robert Crawford gives historical background to the play in the form of a discussion of the cold war, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and Joseph McCarthy. In the second part of the lecture, Derek Gladwin talks about the play itself, focusing on allegory and tragedy, and discussing how we might view John Proctor as a tragic hero.
The video with the presentation slides can be found on the UBC Media Site system
The video without slides is also on YouTube:
- Why do communities break apart in The Crucible and Achebe’s Things Fall Apart? In your response, consider the relationship between the individual and society.
- Discuss the author’s choice of settings for the scenes in the play, while also considering the content of the scenes or the play as a whole.
- Explain how “guilt” functions in The Crucible. You may compare matters discussed in your answer with the representation of Maggie Tulliver in The Mill on the Floss, if you wish.
- Why does Miller revisit this particular episode and period in American colonial history? (I.e., how might it serve his purpose(s))?
- Is there an ironic tension between the play’s critique of tyranny and the small amount of room it gives for multiple interpretations?
- “How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” (Miller 133). What is the function of names in The Crucible?
- The Introduction to our text notes that Miller changes the original story to include a sexual relationship between Abigail Williams and John Proctor (xiv). What effects does this choice have on one or more larger themes in the play?
- Explore the relationship between truth and power in the play.
- How do bodies function in The Crucible?