Customer Review

78 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Moving and Brilliant Play, July 11, 2003
This review is from: The Crucible (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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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 18, 2011 7:31:20 PM PST
dennis says:
I would humbly suggest that reading your own descriptions of the "evil" of the 1950 witch hunts are more properly a description of the Soviet World, who had in fact sent its "devil's into our society.
We now have the hindsight of history, its been 60 years since the "Red Scare". Since the fall of Soviet comunistic state, those scholars who maintained the evils of the "Witch Hunt of the 50's have had to face a torrent of evidence, coming from the files of the Soviet Intelligence, both the GRU and KGB. Unlike Salem, there were no witches. There was the society of religous fanatics, rapidly losing its power because it denied the humanity and evils of man.

Mr. Miller was no more,or less misguided than the characters he invented for this fabrication, which sits on the high alter of Hollywood and Broadway, and in the halls of the Ivy League. It is difficult for this writter, who has interviewed the victims of the Soviet system, to comprehend how intelligent people refuse to let go of their ideological mistakes.

To compare what happened in 2003 and 2003, as a collorarly between the Witch Hunt and the Red Scare defies comprehension. If I may assume, the critique refers to the US's reaction to the 9/11 bombings, and the wars against the taliban in Afganistan and Saddam in Iraq. Regardless of political party, or persuasion, except for members of the communist party, and its adherents, there has never been a situtation that approaches the evils of Saddam or the Taliban. Perhaps the greatest stain on this nation has been slavery. May I remind those who find comfort in this critque, that we fought a terrible war to correct that evil. We have attempted to eliminate the dominance of one religion, or one ideology through legal constituional means. This does not mean we have not used propaganda to guide the nation into our wars. But again, this play, as a art form is excellent, however, as everyone seems to agree, this play is an attempt to propagandize a political postion.

At the time this play was written, the entire populations of Eastern Europe were under Soviet Control,kept their by the secret police, propaganda, fear and military force. How can that compare to the errors of a few men, who became vilified in less than a decade. Not only was Hollywood, or Broadway, or the Ivy League against these fanatics, it was also the Republican President, the Director of the FBI and the Roman Catholic which never accepted even the temporary expediency of the US becoming an ally of Stalin.
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