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THE CRUCIBLE BY ARTHUR MILLER Arthur Millers The Crucible is a play about the Salem witch trials in 1960 These were classic examples of mass hysteria resulting in the hanging of a great many respectable men and woman of charges of trafficking with the devil They were convicted by people at least as respectable as themselves largely on the evidence of four young girls who had been caught dancing in the moonlight and laid their dissolute behavior to the influence of Satan Innocent people are accused and convicted of witchcraft on the most absurd testimony the testimony of those who themselves meddled in witchcraft and are therefore doubly to be distrusted Descent citizens who sign petitions attesting to the good character of the accused friends and neighbors are thrown into prison as suspects Anyone who tries to introduce into court the voice of reason is likely to be held in contempt No one is acquitted The only way out for the accused is to make false confessions and themselves join the accusers The character and the motives of all characters in this drama are simple and clear The girls who raised the accusation of witchcraft were merely trying to cover up their own misbehavior The Reverend Samuel Parris found in the investigation of witchcraft a convenient means of consolidating his shaky position in a parish that was murmuring against his undemocratic conduct of the church The Reverend John Hale a conscientious and troubled minister who gives the premises must have represented something like the best that Puritan New England had to offer Deputy Governor Danforth presented as a virtual embodiment of early New England never becomes more than a pompous unimaginative politician of the better sort As for the victims themselves John Proctor can be seen as one of the more modern figures in the trials hardheaded skeptical a voice of common sense he thought the accused girls could be
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