The Crucible

Definition

Theater

  • Arthur Miller's play about the notorious witchcraft trials in Salem, Massachusetts (1692). It was first performed in 1953 at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York and seen two years later at London's Royal CourtTheatre in a production by George Devine. The Salem trials resultedin some 20 executions and the indictment of scores of innocent people;Miller drew an easy parallel with McCarthyism and the investigationsof the US house Un-American Activities Committee, then at their height.There have been numerous revivals, most notably perhaps Dominic Cooke'sLondon production with the RSC (2006).

    When a number of Salem girls are seen dancing in the forestby the prim Reverend Parris, he suspects them of practising witchcraft.Among the group is Abigail Williams, the former servant of John andElizabeth Proctor; to save herself she confesses to witchcraft andbegins to accuse others. Because Abigail is in love with John, shenames his wife as a witch. The investigators eventually indict JohnProctor as well, along with many of his neighbours. Abigail disappearsfrom town and Proctor is hanged.

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