2008: 111. The Crucible

“At the time of these events Parris was in his middle forties. In history he cut a villainous path, and here is very little good to be said for him.  He believe he was being persecuted wherever he went, despite his best efforts to win people and God to his side.”

The Crucible, Arthur Miller

I can’t believe that I’d never actually read this play before.  I’ve read Death of A Salesman, and All My Sons (and that kick-ass nasty piece in Vanity Fair about what a jackass Miller was about his son with Down’s syndrome - is there anything more interesting than catty stories about literary lions?), and some others, too, I think (I had a collection of Miller plays once, I think).  Nonetheless, I somehow missed The Crucible - and me a girl not just from Massachusetts, but whose Mom went to Salem State.  In fact, Rebecca Nurse, a character in this very play, actually lived in Topsfield - the town next to mine, the town I attended high school in, for crying out loud.  Which makes me wonder, why on earth did Mrs. Toth (that would be my 10th grade English teacher at Masconomet Regional High) assign Willy Loman? We should have been all up in that John Proctor stuff.  Though, I do like saying “Attention must be paid” and I can’t think of a similarly pithy quote from The Crucible, so maybe Loony Lou (as she was known to we charming sophomores) was onto something.

And yet, even without one of the most famous lines in modern American theater, this is a pretty kick ass play.  I thought, because I generally knew what it was about (i.e., the Salem witch trials as metaphor for McCarthyism (specifically) and group-think/oppression (generally)), that I would find the play to be predictable, but this is one of those books (unlike The Invisible Man) that is totally compelling despite its fame - a classic that deserves it.  I mean, this is a play that is powerful to read, and I can see how it would be even more powerful as actually produced.  In fact, I actually want to go see a production at the first chance I can get (and this despite the fact that the subject matter is just about as grim as it gets, what with the oppression, and the hysteria, and the, you know, hangings and pressings and such).  I think its a credit to the power of Miller that he manages to write such a powerful work that it moved me, even though I knew almost exactly what to expect going in, and if someone else managed to obtain a liberal education without reading The Crucible, I recommend it highly.*


*This totally makes me look like an idiot, by the way - blogger says The Crucible is a darn fine play! Also suggests Hamlet, and The Iceman Cometh (though actually, I have not read The Iceman Cometh. Probably should).


Date/Place Completed: 7/9/08; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Commuting Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017