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?
The crime of Elia Kazan was when HUAC brought Kazan to bear witness in 1952 about his knowledge of the Communist agents in the industry, it was classed as pure stagecraft. By then, Kazan was a committed anti-Communist.
  • Why did Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan come into conflict?
Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan came into conflict because Kazans forsooth denied clamins that he was an anti-communist to save his career and named close friends instead of himself which ultimateley destroyed his friendship with Arthur Miller who at the time was like a brother to him. This caused them not to speak for a decade.
  • What was the relationship between Miller and Kazan prior to the McCarthy period?
It was found that before the McCarthy period, Both Kazan and Miller were friends, Kazan had directed two of Miller's plays; "Death of a salesman" and "All my sons".
  • What was the response of the former friends to the conflict?
Kazan said he didn’t feel guilty, because he'd rather hurt others a little, than hurt himself a lot.
  • How did the social values of America in the 50s contribute to the conflict?
Social values in America in the 50s was shaped by socialism because in the 50's, a person's reputation means a lot and because Miller was accused, his frame was ruined.
  • How did the depression contribute to the values of Miller and Kazan?
Miller and Kazan both felt depression and it made them not think reasonable and make brutal decisions, for instance, Kazan's depression led him to name innocent individuals as communists.
  • In the play society's values also play a role. What are these values and their effects?
Within the play society's values did play a role, the society's values are very religious and passionate about this. It was seen going to church, learning the Ten commandments and praying are a big part of the expectations that the society holds and requires.
  • What was the role of bureaucracy / authority in the conflict? What is the parallel with this play?
It was found that the position of bureaucracy is the main part for the conflict and basically started the conflict as they sensed fear. This is in parallel to the idea of witchcraft or dealing with the devil.
  • How could the discrediting of HUAC, Hollywood 10, blacklisting, be seen to be paralleled in the play?
All this is found to be parallel to the play because it is transparent when the villagers of Salem are accused of witchcraft, they are dishonoured in society and lose reputation and nobody will believe what they have to say or value their judgement.
  • How was the loyalty of ordinary people tested in both situations?
It was found that the loyalty was trialed in both standings because the average people may have had to be un-loyal in order to save their names.
  • 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?
The pressure placed on him from this was to write less tragically about his country, and a lot of money in fees. This is his quote "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?
At the Oscars Kazan won an Oscar for life success, and bafflement arises because not one member of the HUAC was mentioned during the Oscars.
  • How did Kazan perceive a silent position on communism?
Kazan beheld 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 very differently. How?
It was seen that Kazan still had no regrets about naming others as communists, but Miller had massive regrets, and wishes that he was able to correct his decisions.
  • 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?
Both of them did have an alteration in the way when they approached the conflict admitting and listing to their wrong doings and issues.
  • What was the response of Arthur Miller? How did it contribute to his writing of the Crucible?
Quoted from the article - '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?
The hysteria plays the role of driving the conflict in both events, and allowing it to grow.
  • Explain the metaphor connecting Salem and the McCarthy witch hunts. How does theCrucible also reflect Miller's own personal moral conflict?
Quoted from the article - "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?
Quoted from the article - "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?
In the era of the play it was seen as many people whocarry out a crime (Kazan and John Proctor) in the end got the motion 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?
It was seen as the people walked out they didn't want to know the truth of what had occured, which meant the play was produced at the wrong time as people were still in the fear and the 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?
Quoted from the article - "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