THE CRUCIBLE (1996)

Sound Bites

This pure product [The Crucible] of the '50s now seems to allude to all sorts of things that might be on movie-going minds in the '90s: from adults accused of ritual child abuse to 6-year-olds accused of sexual harassment, from fundamentalist dread of the Great Satan to fundamentalist dread of the New World Order, from contamination by the AIDS virus to contamination by illegal immigrants to contamination by second-hand smoke. "There's a kind of floating paranoia in the world," says Miller. "I think that's maybe what makes the play seem to be always topical.” (Chang and Gates 76)

Though he [Arthur Miller] has agreed to abide by the limiting requirements of filmmaking, he clearly wishes to “show” us more than is on the screen.  In particular, he would help us to recognize what he himself has long known to be a reliable truth: namely, that in any conflict, those who abide by the dictates of the on-going system are almost certainly morally compromised, while those whom the system would cast out are almost certainly its innocent victims and martyrs.  (Decter 56)

Miller says that he saw his way into the historical material, as a playwright, when he read in the record about a gesture of Abigail’s toward John, a gesture revealing tenderness.  Thus the play became possible for him when he saw sex as a motivation for Abigail’s charges; to which he added land greediness in others.  (Kauffmann 31)

In Miller's rigorously Puritan critique of Puritanism, nobody gets off the hook: paranoia is a predictable perversion of the human spirit, doing right is rewarded only by the knowledge of having done it and a private surrender to passion brings down not just a pair of lovers but a whole community.  (Chang and Gates 76)

It is an examination of a society that through fear gives unquestioned authority and power to a select few supposed defenders. The result is an exercise in power far worse than the threat it was intended to curb.  (Leeper)

Most chilling, scarier even than the power-tripping in the name of righteousness, is the film's view that the ultimate evils here are manipulation, exploitation, and the rigid tyranny of conformity.  (Carr)

It's [The Crucible] about fear, pain and the need for scapegoats. It's about corruption and the abuse of power. And ultimately it's about morality, justice, righteousness and the power of truth. (Kelley-Milburn)

The intent [of the film] is to demonstrate the malleability of people in the mass, bent on working off the old grudges of an insular community.  (Morgan 128)

Works Cited:

Carr, Jay.  “‘The Crucible’ Bewitches.” Boston Globe 20 December 1996, city ed.: E1+.

Chang, Yahlin, and David Gates.  “One Devil of a Time.”  Newsweek 2 December 1996: 76.

Decter, Midge.  “The Crucible.”  Commentary March 1997: 54-56.

Kauffmann, Stanley.  “The Crucible.” New Republic 16 December 1996: 30-33.

Kelley-Milburn, Deborah. (no date). Newsgroup Reviews.  23 September 1999.
<http://www.imdb.com/Reviews/64/6416>

Leeper, Mark R. ( no date).  Newsgroup Reviews.  23 September 1999. <http://www.imdb.com/Reviews/65/6571>

Morgan, Marie.  “The Crucible.”  New England Quarterly March 1997: 125-29.
 
 

Copyright (c) 1999 by Tina T. Kao, Undergraduate at Lehigh University.

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