Arthur Miller,the Crucible and McCarthyism
Arthur Miller's response to theMcCarthy anti-Communist hysteria: a period of conflict in the USA in the 1950s,was to write the Crucible. He created an allegory to present the conflict, inwhich he was personally involved, to his contemporaries. In his play, heexamined the witchcraft trials in Salem. In 1692, which he saw as having manyparallels to his own experience. In creating a comparison between both theevents which occurred and the dilemmas faced by those directly involved, he wasable to thinly disguise the identities of acquaintances, while simultaneouslypresenting his views about the injustice which he believed had occurred. Hisplay is still very relevant as an examination of the way in which ordinarypeople can courageously confront unjust authority and the importance ofprotecting personal integrity.

  • What was the crime of Elia Kazan?
He directed All My Sons and Death of a Salesman and was also part of the communist parties

  • Why did Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan come into conflict?
They came into conflict as Elia blamed Auther as a communist
  • What was the relationship between Miller and Kazan prior to the McCarthy period?
They were friends and worked together
  • What was the response of the former friends to the conflict?
Kazan said he didn't feel guilty, beacuse he's rather hurt others a littler, than hurt himself
  • How did the social values of America in the 50s contribute to the conflict? How did the depression contribute to the values of Miller and Kazan? In the play,society's values also play a role. What are these values and their effects?
It made people fearful and they would blame others. This was shown in miller and Kazans values as Miller didn't blame others but Kazan did.
  • What was the role of bureaucracy / authority in the conflict? What is the parallel with this play?
The role of bureaucracy is the main reason for the conflict and basically started the conflict as they were in fear. This is parallel to the idea of witch craft or dealing with the devil.
  • How could the discrediting of HUAC, Hollywood 10, blacklisting, be seen to be paralleled in the play?
They would be paralleled to the judges Danforth and Hawthorn
  • How was the loyalty of ordinary people tested in both situations?
It was tested as people would have the choice to say it was them or blame others( even if they're innocent)
  • What dilemma did Kazan faced with regard to the house un-American activities committee? What was his stance in his first appearance? How did this affect him? What extra pressure was placed on him?

entreated me to write less tragically about our country. This lecture cost me $40,000 in lawyer's fees, a year's suspended sentence for contempt of Congress, and a $500 fine. Not to mention about a year of inanition in my creative life.
  • What were the ensuring events at the subsequent Oscars?
'It is very significant that in the uproar set off by last year's award to Kazan of an Oscar for life achievement, one heard no mention of the name of any member of the Huac. One doubted whether the thought occurred to many people that the studio heads had ignominiously collapsed before the Huac's insistence that they institute a blacklist of artists, something they had once insisted was dishonourable and a violation of democratic norms. Half a century had passed since his testimony, but Kazan bore very nearly the whole onus of the era, as though he had manufactured its horrors - when he was'
  • How did Kazan perceive a silent position on communism?
He persieved that it made him seem as though he was one of them

  • Kazan and Miller discuss the upcoming trial, but years later saw the event verydifferently. How?
'he had all but single-handedly organised, was subjected to trial after trial to drive him back to his native Australia as an unadmitted communist. Academics, some prominent in their fields, were especially targeted, many forced to retire or fired for disloyalty. Some were communists, some were fellow travellers and, inevitably, a certain number were unaffiliated liberals refusing to sign one of the dozens of humiliating anti-communist pledges being required by terrified college administrations.'
  • How was Kazan's next appearance before HUAC differ from the first? How did he justify what he did? What parallel could be drawn between the significance of the naming of names by Kazan and John Proctor? What were the differences? How did others respond?
They both had a change in the in which they approached the conflict admitting to their wrong doings
  • What was the response of Arthur Miller? How did it contribute to his writing of theCrucible?
'The result of it all is that I have come, rather reluctantly, to respect delusion, not least of all my own. There are no passions quite as hot and pleasurable as those of the deluded. Compared to the bliss of delusion, its vivid colours, blazing lights, explosions, whistles and liberating joys, the search for evidence is a deadly bore. My heart was with the left. if only because the right hated me enough to want to kill me, as the Germans amply proved. And now, the most blatant and most foul anti-semitism is in Russia, leaving people like me filled not so much with surprise as a kind of wonder at the incredible amount of hope there once was, and how it disappeared and whether in time it will ever come again, attached, no doubt, to some new illusion.'
  • What role does hysteria play in both events?
It played the role of continuing the conflict, allowing it to flow and grow.
  • Explain the metaphor connecting Salem and the McCarthy witch hunts. How does theCrucible also reflect Miller's own personal moral conflict?
'But as the 50s dawned, they were stuck with the past. Part of the surreality of the anti-left sweep was that it picked up people for disgrace who had already turned away from a pro-Soviet past but had no stomach for naming others who had merely shared their illusions. But the hunt had captured some significant part of the American imagination and its power demanded respect.
Turning to Salem was like looking into a petri dish, an embalmed stasis with its principal moving forces caught in stillness. One had to wonder what the human imagination fed on that could inspire neighbours and old friends to emerge overnight as furies secretly bent on the torture and destruction of Christians. More than a political metaphor, more than a moral tale, The Crucible, as it developed over more than a year, became the awesome evidence of the power of human imagination inflamed, the poetry of suggestion, and the tragedy of heroic resistance to a society possessed to the point of ruin.'
  • How was the Crucible received by the audience?
'Unfortunately, on a stage such rigidity can only lead an audience to the exits. Several years after, a gang of young actors, setting up chairs in the ballroom of the McAlpin Hotel, fired up the audience, convinced the critics, and the play at last took off and soon found its place. There were cheering reviews but by then Senator McCarthy was dead. The public fever on whose heatwaves he had spread his wings had subsided.'
  • How was guilt by association seen in the McCarthy era and the play?
It was seen as many people who had committed a crime (Kazan and John Proctor) in the end felt that they had done the wrong thing and admit to their wrong doings
  • How does John Proctor's private and public betrayal reflect both Kazan's and Miller's conflicts?
  • How did the critical response to the Crucible reflect the dangerous times it wasproduced in?
As the people walked out they didn't want to know the truth of what had happened, which meant the play was produced at the wrong time as people were still in fear and shock
  • What was the personal and professional cost of Kazan's testimony to him? What does this show us about involvement in conflict for its participants?
'Kazan's testimony created a far greater shock than anyone else's. Lee J Cobb's similar testimony and Jerome Robbins's cooperation seemed hardly to matter. It may be that Kazan had been loved more than any other, that he had attracted far greater affection from writers and actors with whom he had worked, and so what was overtly a political act was sensed as a betrayal of love'.
  • What was Kazan's final revenge?
  • How ultimately has history judged Miller and Kazan?

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Modern day witchhunts