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The Crucible (Penguin Plays) Paperback – October 28, 1976
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
In the rigid theocracy of Salem, Massachusetts, rumors that women are practicing witchcraft galvanize the town. In a searing portrait of a community engulfed by panic - with ruthless prosecutors, and neighbors eager to testify against neighbor - The Crucible famously mirrors the anti-Communist hysteria that held the United States in its grip in the 1950's. A Tony Award Winner for Best Play.
An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance featuring:
Richard Dreyfuss as Reverend John Hale
Stacy Keach as John Proctor
Ed Begley Jr. as Thomas Putnam
Michael York as Reverend Parris
Hector Elizondo as Giles Corey
Irene Aranga as Mercy Lewis
Rene Auberjonois as Deputy Governor Danforth
Georgia Brown as Rebecca Nurse
Jack Coleman as Marshal Herrick
Bud Cort as Ezekiel Cheever
Judyann Elder as Tituba
Fionnula Flanagan as Elizabeth Proctor
Ann Hearne as Susanna Walcott
Carol Kane as Mary Warren
Anna Sophie Loewenberg as Betty Parris
Marian Mercer as Mrs. Ann Putnam
Franklyn Seales as Judge Hathorne
Madolyn Smith as Abigail Williams
Joe Spano as Francis Nurse
Directed by Martin Jenkins. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.