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Background Information On The Crucible. By Arthur Miller. Arthur Miller. Born in 1915 Wrote about dilemmas of common people against powerful, unyielding forces. Native New Yorker, went through good times and bad times.

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arthur miller
Arthur Miller
  • Born in 1915
  • Wrote about dilemmas of common people against powerful, unyielding forces.
  • Native New Yorker, went through good times and bad times.
  • His family lost money during the Depression and had to move from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
  • Graduated from high school in 1932, but could not attend college in Michigan for two more years. His family had to raise money for his tuition.
  • He earned money by working odd jobs such as: singing for a local radio station, driving a truck, and working as a stock clerk for an automotive parts warehouse.
Arthur first began writing dramas when he was college.
  • In 1947, his play All My Sons opened on Broadway, which made Arthur a huge success.
  • Two years later he won a Pulitzer Prize for Death of a Salesman, which is a modern day American tragedy.
  • His next play was The Crucible which was less popular because it was set during the Salem Witch trials of 1692 as a means of attacking the anti-communist “witch hunts” of the Congress in the 1950s.
  • Arthur believed that the hysteria that surrounded the Salem Witch Trials paralleled the contemporary McCarthyism – Senator Joe McCarthy’s obsessive quest to uncover Communists in the United States.
background on the time period
Background on the Time Period
  • 1692: British Colony of Massachusetts is consumed by a witchcraft purging that results in the execution of 20 people and the imprisonment of at least 150 others.
  • Similar witch hunts had taken place in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries in which between 1 million and 9 million people were accused of witchcraft and executed.
  • Often, these witch hunts had political motivations. For example, James I of England accused his enemies of practicing the black arts.
background on the time period1
Background on the Time Period
  • In the New England colonies, colonist endured many hardships (sickness, fires, drought, brutal weather, etc.) that was often attributed to the work of the Devil. They believed witchcraft to be very real and very dangerous.
  • In Salem Village, many were quick to blame witchcraft after the minister’s daughter and several other girls had seizures and lapsed into unconsciousness after dabbling in fortune-telling with the minister’s slave, Tituba. (They were dancing in the woods, as portrayed in the play.)
  • At first only Tituba and the two older girls were accused of witchcraft, but then the hunt grew until almost all of the prominent citizens in the colony stood accused. This was due to mass hysteria.
literary analysis
Literary Analysis
  • Dialogue refers to the words characters speak. Dialogue both advances the plot and reveals the character’s personalities and backgrounds.
  • Stage Directions usually indicate where a scene takes place, what it should look like, and how the characters should move and speak. Stage directions are usually set in italic type to distinguish them from dialogue.
  • Dramatic Exposition conveys critical information about a play’s settings, characters, and even historical or social context. Most times it is provided in the dialogue or stage directions, but Arthur Miller does something different. He interjects lengthy prose commentaries.
Predilection – pre-existing preference

Ingratiating – charming or flattering

Dissembling – disguising one’s real nature or motives

Calumny – false accusations; slander

Inclucation – teaching by repetition and urging

Propitiation – action designed to soothe or satisfy a person, cause, etc.

Licentious – lacking moral restraint

the crucible by arthur miller

The CrucibleBy Arthur Miller

1. crucible (kroo’ se bel) n. heat-resistant container in which metals are melted or fused at very high temperatures; thus, a severe trial or test.

Reverend Parris

Betty Parris


Abigail Williams

Susanna Walcott

Mrs. Ann Putnam

Thomas Putnam

Mercy Lewis

Mary Warren

John Proctor

Rebecca Nurse

Giles Corey

Martha Corey

Reverend John Hale

Elizabeth Proctor

Francis Nurse

Ezekiel Cheever

Marshal Herrick

Judge Hawthorne

Deputy Governor Danforth

Sarah Good