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What do you think Miller meant when he wrote, ''this play is not history in the sense...

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valentino1 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 9, 2011 at 10:11 AM via web

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What do you think Miller meant when he wrote, ''this play is not history in the sense in which the word is used by the academic historian'?"

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 9, 2011 at 10:23 AM (Answer #1)

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This question is one which is open to personal interpretation. What this means is that the question is subjective and, therefore, deems a subjective answer.

What can be assumed by the statement by Arthur Miller ("this play is not history in the sense in which the word is used by the academic historian") is that he did not want the play to be examined as something factual. While the Salem witch trials did take place, Miller wants readers, and watchers, of the play to understand that it (the play) is his interpretation of what led the hysteria to break out in Salem.

Academic history is written in a completely factual way (think dictionary or encyclopedia). Nothing is left to true criticism given texts written in this (a historically academic) way are interpreted as how it really was when it happened. Given that these texts are references, many simply accept what they say as truths. Miller wants readers to know that his play is a history given it provides information on the witch trials, but the play is not a completely accurate telling of what happened.

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