How can The Crucible be seen as an example of political drama?

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

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I think that Miller's work can be seen as an example of political drama on a couple of levels.  The first would be that the drama has a definite political sentiment.  It is difficult to parse the aesthetic element from the political one in the drama.  There is a definite statement about how political power can be coopted by those who claim to follow the public good, but actually pursue it to advance their own agendas.  Parris advocates the claim of witchcraft to bolster his own sagging credibility.  Danforth and Hathorne use the charges and the trials to advance their own careers.  Putnam seeks to make money off of those who are accused, while Abigail simply covets John Proctor and is willing to cry "Witchcraft" in order to get him.  This helps to make the drama political, in suggesting that everything within human consciousness is politically motivated.  At the same time, Miller understands clearly that his writing the drama during the McCarthy hearing time period helps to make clear the idea that individuals in the position of political power might be using their position in order to advance their own agendas.  Additionally, the concept of political drama is rooted in the idea of an author advocating his own political beliefs.  This is something that Miller makes extremely clear in a couple of ways.  In focusing the drama on Proctor and his need to assert his own voice against that which is socially and politically wrong, Miller is making clear that individuals do have freedom and can activate it at any possible time, even at the worst of moments.  When Corey states that his reason for refusing to name names is because he "wishes not to bring harm to anyone else," it becomes the basis for Miller's statement to the HUAC in which he asserts his own hope to not "bring harm" to another person through his testimony.  In these examples, Miller's work is highly political, a drama that embodies some of the tenets of political drama.

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