Why did Arthur Miller, the author of "The Crucible," cut out Act 2, scene 2, in his play?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, Act Two, scene two, is generally left out of modern productions of the play. It may be because it was confusing to his audience in presenting a conflicting view of Abigail.

The play was originally written as direct criticism of the "witch-hunt" conducted by Senator Joseph McCarthy, while searching out Communists, mostly among artists: writers, actors, etc. This debacle is known as McCarthyism. The sense of accusing the innocent in the United States at this time parallels what happened in Salem, Massachusetts, when a number of girls accused innocent members of their community of being witches and were believed. Almost twenty people would be killed before the madness was stopped.

The portion of the play left out is:

In the woods, Proctor meets with Abigail. She again tries to seduce him, but he continuously pushes her away, informing her that she must stop all accusations being made against his wife. They argue, and Abigail asks him how he intends to prove that what she is saying is false. He informs her that he fully intends to admit to their affair in court if it comes to it, and the scene ends with Abigail saying, "I will save you tomorrow... from yourself I will save you."

Perhaps Miller leaves this out (which was added after the original play was completed) because it gives us the sense that Abigail is dedicated (in a crazy way) to her love of Proctor. While it may be easy for us to understand her kind of criminal mentality after watching countless cop shows on network television, to the audience watching the play, it may seem confusing.

All along Abigail has been very effective in manipulating the community, the court and the other girls to fall in line with her plans. Seeing her as a scheming young woman trying to do away with her competition (Proctor's wife, Elizabeth) makes more sense sandwiched between the foolishness and the apparent lack of mental acuity that affects all of the adults persecuting these innocent members of the Salem.

The idea of Abigail stating that she will "save" John just doesn't ring true. She has already intimated that no one will believe his confession of their affair. She is not interested in saving anyone but herself. And while the audience would probably buy the fact that in this scene she still would do almost anything to get John Proctor, the sense of doing something to save him from himself is not very believable. Had it been presented as a ploy on her part, perhaps it might have worked.