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The Crucible (Penguin Plays) Paperback – October 28, 1976

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Editorial Reviews


Under Martin Jenkins' direction, the brilliant L.A. Theatre Works actors give performances that are intense, chilling and deeply moving. --Tom Jacobs, The Daily News, April 10, 1988

At once an allegory of the 1950s' anti-communist witch hunts and a spotlight on seventeenth-century witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts, this play shows how ignorance and good intentions can interweave to destroy lives. The star-studded cast ratchets the tension to a disturbing level as the town disintegrates. The young girls playing at witchcraft shriek in irregular counterpoint to the quiet, terrifying judgments rendered by Reverend Harris (Michael York), and doubt is ever more audible in the voice of Reverend Hale (Richard Dreyfuss). Most moving is Stacy Keach as John Proctor, who fights to salvage some good from the trials that destroy Salem. --AudioFile Magazine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Arthur Miller was born in New York City in 1915 and studied at the University of Michigan. His plays include All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), A View from the Bridge and A Memory of Two Mondays (1955), After the Fall (1963), Incident at Vichy (1964), The Price (1968), The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972) and The American Clock. He has also written two novels, Focus (1945), and The Misfits, which was filmed in 1960, and the text for In Russia (1969), Chinese Encounters (1979), and In the Country (1977), three books of photographs by his wife, Inge Morath. More recent works include a memoir, Timebends (1987), and the plays The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991), The Last Yankee (1993), Broken Glass (1993), which won the Olivier Award for Best Play of the London Season, and Mr. Peter's Connections (1998). His latest book is On Politics and the Art of Acting. Miller was granted with the 2001 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He has twice won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and in 1949 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Later Printing (20th and over) edition (October 28, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780140481389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140481389
  • ASIN: 0140481389
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (520 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Arthur Miller (1915-2005) was born in New York City in 1915 and studied at the University of Michigan. He was awarded the Avery Hopwood Award for Playwrighting at University of Michigan in 1936. He twice won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, received two Emmy awards and three Tony Awards for his plays, as well as a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement. He also won an Obie award, a BBC Best Play Award, the George Foster Peabody Award, a Gold Medal for Drama from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Literary Lion Award from the New York Public Library, the John F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Algur Meadows Award. He received honorary degrees from Oxford University and Harvard University and was awarded the Prix Moliere of the French theatre, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Lifetime Achievement Award and the Pulitzer Prize, as well as numerous other awards. He was named the Jefferson Lecturer for the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2001. He was awarded the 2002 Prince of Asturias Award for Letters and the 2003 Jerusalem Prize.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 103 people found the following review helpful By M. A Netzley on July 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
The play's main narrative line tells the story of the Salem witch hunts which took place in Massachusetts, 1692. At a deeper level, Miller raises several powerful and important questions about human life and morality. But the play's most amazing quality is that it is not "deep" or "philosophical" by traditional standards. Miller has, in a short and easy-to-read manuscript, opened the door (or maybe I should say he presents the reader with a mirror) to modern political life.
The play is essentially a crtique of McCarthyism and the the communist scare of the 1950s. Miller saw the parallels between the witch hunts and the McCarthy trials, and found the witch trials to be a compelling vehicle for discussing modern events. Key themes include:
1. People gaining absolution from the powers-that-be by confessing the sins of others.
2. The power of community rituals, such as confession.
3. The role of political opposition and the consequences of compliance (passive or active).
4. The consequences of a polarized world views and mass hysteria.
These are just a few of the themes. The play is quite clearly a great tragedy, but remains a tragedy for our times. Through characters we can connect with, Miller convincingly shows us that the lessons from the witch hunts still apply. As a reader, I am convinced that Miller's play remains relevant and powerful in the twenty-first century. Miller has left me with questions, regarding world events in 2002 and 2003, that I did not have before reading the play.
I read this play in only a couple hours. It is compelling, engaging, and difficult to put down. Personally, I feel this text stands a great chance of making it onto my "top ten" list of best manuscripts. I highly recommend this play.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By RCM VINE VOICE on September 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
As usual, Arthur Miller was in rare form when he wrote "The Crucilble." Although on the surface it is about the Salem Witch Trials, Miller's true inspiration came from the Red Scare that plagued Hollywood in the middle of the twentieth century (and included his pal Elia Kazan). The fact that Miller wove factual history with the hysteria of his day makes "The Crucible" all the more chilling.

Throughout the course of the play, a collection of teenage girls 'confess' to having seen various women and men of the town of Salem with the devil. This hysteria sweeps over the town as even the authorities fall under the sway of these lying young girls. Caught in the middle of these hysteronics is the Proctor family - John and Elizabeth, who have struggled in the past, but are trying to rebuild their marriage. They are rent apart when Elizabeth is suspected of being a witch. John hopes to clear his wife's name, but only manages to make matters worse for both of them.

The hysteria experienced in Salem is chilling in the fact that these sorts of witch hunts occur today, in all different areas of society. "The Crucible" shows how easily people can be swayed, with the barest of evidence, to believe something that is false. Miller's play is extremely well-written and informative, and almost too frighteningly real.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Alana Morales on October 5, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I used this recording this year while teaching "The Crucible". My students loved it!! The emotion conveyed by the cast is SO much better than the typical monotone voice that students use while reading out loud. Even though there were some small parts that are skipped when following along with our textbook, it was completely worth it (and the parts skipped were very small - it was very easy to read it aloud if necessary).
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jenna O'Shields on April 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
Using the historical and controversial subject of the Salen Witch Trials, Arthur Miller's play The Crucible presents an allegory for events in contemporary America. Miller's play employs these historical events to criticize the moments in humankind's history when reason and fact became clouded by irrational fears and the desire to place blame for society's problems on others. The play deals with the corrupted town of Salem, Massachusettes, in 1692. John proctor, a blunt, out-spoken farmer and the play's central character, gets caught up in a conspiracy not even his own stength can control when his ex-lover, Abigail, throws false accusations in his wife's direction. As Proctor tries to free his wife and prove all others also accused of withcraft innocent, he finds himself being accused as well. This play is a story of vengeance; one man stands in a tug-of-war battle between God and Satan, pride and damnation, and good and evil. It all leads up to a climactic ending in which one lost soul finds peace with himself and realizes the importance of one's integrity.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By L. Park on March 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
This play is truly and epic for recent times. The language used by Miller for his characters are intelligent and eloquent, but not to such an extent as to make for difficult reading (like Shakespeare for instance). Miller's Crucible is largely based on the Salem Witch Trials and contains more than a few actual quotes for his characters that came from transcripts of the real trials. The plot is so very clever with many layers and themes and subplots running throughout. There is the obvious top layer that almost anyone can understand about the horror of the witchhunt, and then there is a more subtle layer about the inner nature of humans... sometimes it can be quite dark (like Abigail, the girl who really leads the accusations) or cowardly (like Parris, whose only real drive seems to be saving his own skin and reputation) and yet there are others that are good (John Proctor, who takes on almost like a Christ figure) and righteous (like Rebecca Nurse who is practical and strong willed through the whole ordeal). The writing is brilliant and it is easy to become thoroughly entrenched in the horror that life in Salem in 1692 came to be. There are many tense moments, and many agonizing situations, and I was quite swept up with the futileness and frustration that many of the accusees more than likely felt. This play is brilliant, and was written in response to the McCarthy horror that swept the 1950's, and serves as a disturbing warning that the intolerance and hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials has happened before, and can happen again.
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