In an ongoing effort to read all the books and plays I ‘should’ read, I finally got to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. This was a staple study text for GCSE when I took mine all those years ago but it was not one that my class did so I knew little about it. I did know Miller’s other plays A View from a Bridge and Death of a Salesman so I found it hard to reconcile what I knew about his usual skewed American Dream subject matter with a play set in the 17th Century.
Of course, the Salem witch trials are a fascinating and horrifying episode in history but I couldn’t make the connection at first. Then I remembered about the McCarthy era hysteria which occurred around the time that the play was written and suddenly what was already a chilling tale took on a greater significance for our more recent history. Of course, had I read the blurb on the back of the play text, this connection would have been made for me and I might have enjoyed the play more from the start, if ‘enjoy’ is the right word which I don’t think it is. The blurb calls the play ‘a savage attack on the evils of mindless persecution and the terrifying power of false accusations’. I couldn’t put it better myself.