Arthur Miller's classic parable of mass hysteria draws a chilling parallel between the Salem witch-hunt of 1692 - "one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history" - and the McCarthyism which gripped America in the 1950s. The story of how the small community of Salem is stirred into madness by superstition, paranoia and malice, culminating in a violent climax, is a savage attack on the evils of mindless persecution and the terrifying power of false accusations.
Reviewed by 55ST
Arthur Miller's take on the history of the Salem witch trials is fact woven through fiction and he does not alter the outcome of actual American history in writing this play, he merely jazzes up the circumstances in which Salem fell into complete and utter hysteria. Adding in a little more scandal enabled Miller to produce characters of great variety and color. Standout characters for me were John and Elizabeth Proctor, the Reverends Paris and Hale, Giles Corey and Abigail Williams, who has managed to make her way onto my literary hit list. She is one of the foulest characters I have come across to date. I REALLY disliked her, she is a child trying to desperately to be a woman and she is a constant and filthy liar. For me, this play is a great exploration of the concept of hysteria, especially when you take into account the character of Mary Warren.The Crucible is arguably Miller's most famous work and its depth and intelligent writing are an enduring testament to the talent possessed.
QBD the bookshop, 31/07/2014