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.

  1. What was the crime of Elia Kazan? submitted a script to Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures. It described the murderous corruption in the gangster-ridden Brooklyn longshoremen's union
  2. Why did Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan come into conflict? They wrote a story on a murderous corrption in the fangster-ridden Brooklyn
  3. What was the relationship between Miller and Kazan prior to the McCarthy period? Work colleagues
  4. What was the response of the former friends to the conflict? He didnt feel bad because he didnt care if he hurt others jsut as long as he didnt get hurt himself.
  5. 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?
  6. What was the role of bureaucracy / authority in the conflict? What is the parallel with this play? The authority was Danforth and he layed Mccarthy showing no actual legal evidence or lawyers in the courtroom.
  7. How could the discrediting of HUAC, Hollywood 10, blacklisting, be seen to be paralleled in the play?
  8. How was the loyalty of ordinary people tested in both situations? Whether they gave other innocent people up or if they stayed loyal to their friends.
  9. 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? He had to pay a $40000 lawyer fee as well as a year out of his life and a fine of $500
  10. What were the ensuring events at the subsequent Oscars? not one member of the HUAC was mentioned during the Oscars.
  11. How did Kazan perceive a silent position on communism? it seemed that he was one of them but he wasnt.
  12. Kazan and Miller discuss the upcoming trial, but years later saw the event very differently. How? Kazan didnt regret giving names to save himself but Miller did regret it and wished he could take it back and do ti all over again.
  13. 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 admitted it but they didnt give names
  14. What was the response of Arthur Miller? How did it contribute to his writing of the Crucible? "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.”
  15. What role does hysteria play in both events? It allows the conflict to grow and prosper.
  16. Explain the metaphor connecting Salem and the McCarthy witch hunts. How does theCrucible also reflect Miller's own personal moral conflict?
  17. How was the Crucible received by the audience? They saw what was happenig in their life right then and there in front of them.
  18. How was guilt by association seen in the McCarthy era and the play?
  19. How does John Proctor's private and public betrayal reflect both Kazan's and Miller's conflicts?
  20. How did the critical response to the Crucible reflect the dangerous times it wasproduced in?
  21. 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?
  22. What was Kazan's final revenge?
  23. How ultimately has history judged Miller and Kazan?

Some Files

Some Websites


Modern day witchhunts