How does Arthur Miller's writing style add to the retelling of the events of the Salem Witch Trials?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One distinct way in which Miller's style adds to the retelling of the Salem Witch Trials is how his prose illuminates the various political angles that individual Salemites possessed.  Miller adds to the retelling of the events in Salem by detailing the personal biases within different members of the Salem community.  Through this, Miller is able to explore the subjectivity that guided the supposedly "objective" trials.  This is seen in his initial description of Parris: "He believed he was being persecuted wherever he went, despite his best efforts to win people and God to his side. In meeting, he felt insulted if someone rose to shut the door without first asking his permission."  Miller does the same thing when he describes the Putnams and Danforth.  Miller is able to use his prose to evoke how specific figures of the Salem Witch Trials might have been acting on their own set of biases and personal beliefs as opposed to something geared towards the larger good.

A significant factor in such inclusions is because Miller does not see his work as purely a work of history.  Miller suggests in the opening that he had to take some level of creative license with the drama:  "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."  Miller understands that the primary lesson that emerges from the events in Salem is the emergence of moral and ethical truth.  Salem becomes a microscopic world where ethics and morals are displayed.  Individuals must figure out what they stand for and what they support.  This test of moral character is a critical inclusion in Miller's writing style. It seeks to bring out the events of Salem in greater detail and in a more meaningful manner.

These elements to Miller's style make for a more detailed and thorough work. It helps to add emphasis and a sense of the dramatic to the events of Salem, viewing them as more than historical.  They become events of moral stature and reflective of ethical deficiency and strength.

Read the study guide:
The Crucible

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