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The Crucible by Arthur Miller was written during the early 1950s at the time of Senator Joseph McCarthys House Un-American Activities Committee hearings on the infiltration of Communism in the United States and the loyalty to democracy of many prominent US citizens The McCarthy hearings pitted artists and performers against each other as they were called to testify about their own loyalty and what they knew about the loyalty of others Although some critics have suggested that The Crucible is an historical allegory for the McCarthy period it can be examined more fruitfully as a play about the human condition McCarthyism as Miller himself said is the backdrop for the play but is not its theme The approach of this teachers guide will be to view the play as one that has outlasted the political turmoil of the time during which it was written becoming a classic work that continues to excite and enrage audiences and readers The Crucible is set in another politically charged period in US history The Salem witch trials of the late 17th century resulted in the accusation and hanging of many colonials Citizens of the Massachusetts colony were arrested and forced to admit their own guilt and inform on others Whether or not the play is historically accurate is not important to the approach used in this teachers guide Although we will suggest ways to examine the historical backdrop of the Salem witch trials and will discuss how the play can be used in English and history we will focus primarily on the artistic qualities of the play The Crucible is extremely appropriate for use in the high school or college classroom It is not difficult to read it has an exciting plot the characters and their relationships are intriguing its themes are timely and it allows students the opportunity to respond in terms of their own experiences The teachers guide will be divided into the
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