Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Book/Play Review: The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Based on historical people and real events, The Crucible is a searing portrait of a community engulfed by hysteria.

“The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone...”

The Crucible provides such an interesting insight into the mass hysteria and paranoia brewing in Salem, Massachusetts in the seventeenth century. Although, perhaps watching a production of this play would be more enthralling than reading it. I was tad bored at times and it took me far longer than it should to get through 150 pages of it!

My major irritation was that a number of the characters had similar names - Proctor, Parris and Putnam, oh my!! And given that these characters would often be interacting with each other, I was constantly doing a double check in my head “oh yep, that’s the reverend... and that’s the rich guy who had a thing with Abigail”... obviously I can’t gripe about this too much as these are REAL character names based on REAL events, but I am complaining because it’s my review and I can! *enter sass emoji*

Speaking of Proctor, I’ve got some issues. I gather that he is being portrayed as the “flawed protagonist” and that we should view him as some kind of martyr? Yet by the end I still didn’t feel that sympathetic towards him. Some of his actions/reactions just didn’t sit well with me, so the ending etc just wasn’t as impactful.

However, Miller perfectly depicts the hysteria, paranoia and fear that brews in Salem in the wake of accusations of witchcraft. It’s pretty mind-blowing that an accusation was as good as evidence, and the only way you could “prove” yourself innocent and escape death was if you confessed?! Insanity! I still find it hard to accept that these witch trials actually happened.

I’m glad I finally read this one, but maybe should have read it before I went to Salem, I might have appreciated the history even more! The Crucible is definitely worth picking up if you have any interest in the witch trials. Giving this one 3.5 stars!


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