Homework Help

Through The Crucible, how does Miller demonstrate how he feels about the witch...

user profile pic

erp | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 5, 2009 at 9:36 AM via web

dislike 1 like

Through The Crucible, how does Miller demonstrate how he feels about the witch hunter/trials of the 1950s?

3 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 5, 2009 at 9:47 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

I think Miller's scorn for the people involved in the Red Scare practically drips from the pages of The Crucible.

Look at the way he portrays the people who are instrumental in causing the witch trials in Salem.  Abigail is a totally selfish girl who doesn't care who she hurts.  Parris is so caught up in his own importance that he cares only for his own image.

Look at the way that Hathorne keeps insisting that people are trying to overthrow the court when all they are trying to do is defend themselves.

Finally, look at the notes that Miller himself puts in various places in the text, especially in Act I, where he explicitly talks about his feelings about the Red Scare.

user profile pic

timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted November 5, 2009 at 10:04 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 1 like

I would add his adaptation of Ibsen's An Enemy of the Peopleas another, if lesser known, example of Miller's comments on the witch trials.  In Ibsen's play a doctor finds out that the health spas that are making his community "rich" are, in fact, poisonous are causing harm to the people who are coming there for help.  He thinks the community will welcome him as its savior; he is "shocked" when he is treated as a pariah, a threat to the well being of the general public.  They attempt to "reason" with him, cajole him, threaten him --- but he stands by his position, becoming, in his own words, "the strongest man in the town."

Miller is clearly standing by the position that the individual who stands by his values in the face of opposition, who cannot  be bullied by the powerful, is the only true individual.  Standing by your principles in the face of what he sees as the witchhunters at the Communist trials, is the only choice a real individual can make.

user profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 5, 2009 at 10:56 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 1 like

I think Miller's approach to both the Salem Witch Trials as well as the Red Scare of the 1950s could lie in Proctor's words.  Seemingly to offer a one lined summary of Miller's beliefs, Proctor yells:

Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul, leave me my name!

This sentiment might speak a great deal about the belief of individual freedom in the midst of its negation.  The idea of Proctor's plea to "leave me my name" explains that individual authenticity and reputation should be left alone and free from the gossiping pry of innuendo and assertion.  The terror of Salem and the Red Scare lies in the idea that individuals lose their ability to speak their own voice.  In the final analysis, Miller's affirmation of voice and individual freedom is something that must be exercised regardless of consequence.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes