Previously, almost no criticism of the media reached the public, except for some of the complaints of business interests and conservatives. The media controlled the "means of communication" and it used that power to censor virtually all discussion of its own role in shaping events But now -- at last -- we are starting to get some public debate over the way the media manipulates public opinion and routinely creates fictions that masquerade as facts. The change has taken place in large measure because the media itself has become so powerful and so out of control, there is no longer any way for it to keep what it is doing under wraps.
First produced on Broadway Dramatic intentions essay January 22,the play was partly a response to the panic caused by irrational fear of Communism during the Cold War which resulted in the hearings by the House Committee on Unamerican Activities.
This is simply not history. The real story is far more complex, dramatic, and interesting - and well worth exploring.
Miller himself had some things to say about the relationship between his play and the actual historical event that are worth considering.
In the Saturday Review inHenry Hewes quotes Miller as stating, "A playwright has no debt of literalness to history. Right now I couldn't tell you which details were taken from the records verbatim and which were invented. Whether this activity is worthwhile or not really depends on what one wants from the play or movie.
I find that many people come across this unusual episode in American history through Miller's story, and if they want to start learning what "really" happened inthey have a hard time distinguishing historical fact from literary fiction because Miller's play and characters are so vivid, and he used the names of real people who participated in the historical episode for his characters.
This play is not history in the sense in which the word is used by Dramatic intentions essay academic historian. Dramatic purposes have sometimes required many characters to be fused into one; the number of girls involved in the 'crying out' has been reduced; Abigail's age has been raised; while there were several judges of almost equal authority, I have symbolized them all in Hathorne and Danforth.
However, I believe that the reader will discover here the essential nature of one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history.
The fate of each character is exactly that of his historical model, and there is no one in the drama who did not play a similar - and in some cases exactly the same - role in history. As for the characters of the persons, little is known about most of them except what may be surmised from a few letters, the trial record, certain broadsides written at the time, and references to their conduct in sources of varying reliability.
They may therefore be taken as creations of my own, drawn to the best of my ability in conformity with their known behavior, except as indicated in the commentary I have written for this text. This is problematic for anyone who is beginning to take an interest in the historical episode, based on his powerful play.
A Life, originally published inMiller recounts another impression he had during his research: One day, after several hours of reading at the Historical Society [ In one of them, a shaft of sepulchral light shoots down from a window high up in a vaulted room, falling upon the head of a judge whose face is blanched white, his long white beard hanging to his waist, arms raised in defensive horror as beneath him the covey of afflicted girls screams and claws at invisible tormentors.
Dark and almost indistinguishable figures huddle on the periphery of the picture, but a few men can be made out, bearded like the judge, and shrinking back in pious outrage. Suddenly it became my memory of the dancing men in the synagogue on th Street as I had glimpsed them between my shielding fingers, the same chaos of bodily motion - in this picture, adults fleeing the sight of a supernatural event; in my memory, a happier but no less eerie circumstance - both scenes frighteningly attached to the long reins of God.
I knew instantly what the connection was: Yes, I understood Salem in that flash; it was suddenly my own inheritance. I might not yet be able to work a play's shape out of this roiling mass of stuff, but it belonged to me now, and I felt I could begin circling around the space where a structure of my own could conceivably rise.
My best guess is that what Miller may have seen was a lithograph - popular framed wall art in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries - from a series produced in by George H. Baker [See image to the right to compare with Miller's description. Although it is fine for artists to be inspired by whatever stimulates their creative sensibilities, Miller's descriptions of his own research, however credible they may come across and however vivid an imprint they may have left on him, are riddled with inaccuracies, and memories Miller claims to have had of the primary sources, are seriously flawed.
When the movie was releasedMiller published an article in the New Yorker, discussing "Why I Wrote The Crucible", in which he describes, over four decades after writing the play, what he remembered of his process with the material. He began by stating that he had read Salem Witchcraft: Upham, who was then the mayor of Salem - that I knew I had to write about the period.
It was from a report written by the Reverend Samuel Parris, who was one of the chief instigators of the witch-hunt. Immediately Abigail cried out her fingers, her fingers, her fingers burned By this time, I was sure, John Proctor had bedded Abigail, who had to be dismissed most likely to appease Elizabeth.
In the introduction to his Collected Plays published in republished in the Viking Critical Library edition, p. I doubt I should ever have tempted agony by actually writing a play on the subject had I not come upon a single fact.
It was that Abigail Williams, the prime mover of the Salem hysteria, so far as the hysterical children were concerned, had a short time earlier been the house servant of the Proctors and now was crying out Elizabeth Proctor as a witch; but more - it was clear from the record that with entirely uncharacteristic fastidiousness she was refusing to include John Proctor, Elizabeth's husband, in her accusations despite the urgings of the prosecutors.
This is also not historically accurate, beginning with Abigail never having been a maidservant in the Procter household: The real Abigail Williams did cry out against John Procter on April 4, on the same day Elizabeth Procter was formally accused, although he was not included on the arrest warrant issued on April 8.Disclaimer: This essay has been submitted by a student.
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