In 1692 there was a mass of hysteria and ordinary folk’s attention grew to matters such as: ‘Who was calling the devil? ‘ and ‘Who was dancing naked in the black of the night? ‘ The chaos and mayhem of this concerned everyone in the villages, and not long after this came the Salem Witch Trials. Arthur Miller was an American author. He wrote the Crucible in the 1950’s. At this time he could also relate to the present events, such as the McCarthy Era in the USA, where anyone suspected of left wing views was arraigned for ‘Un American activities.
‘ The Crucible is clearly a parable of these events, which followed more recently. Underneath the general storyline of the Crucible are matters concerning honesty, trust, betrayal, forgiveness and of course, love. The play contains what I think all good stories should: A ‘goody’; someone honest, loyal and true to his family and friends, such as Proctor: I think Proctor was in the play as he resembles Miller, and shows what the sufferers went through in the McCarthy Era, which was very much similar to the Salem Witch Trials.
He probably wanted some kind of individual marking of himself on the play: A ‘baddy’; someone dishonest, full of hatred, threatening and pure evil, someone, perhaps such as Abigail. The Crucible itself has a sad ending where innocent, honest victims of the Salem Witch Trials tore up their confessions, destroying their future, and gaining painful deaths of being hung. It is based on a true-life story, which never actually ended, and the section at the end of the book, ‘Echoes down the corridor,’ tells us about what happened when the fever had died down.
Miller’s play was a great success all over the world, and eventually a film was made. Obviously, the film followed the general storyline as the play, but there are also many differences between the two, as there are many things you can do in a film but can’t do in a play, and vice versa. It would be very difficult to make the film exactly like the play, even if you had a large amount of money, like the film industry, and despite the fact that Miller was still alive and produced the script for the film. This brought about many of the differences between the play and the book. A play was performed on stage.
Therefore, there was very little room, which the actors had to make do with. A play would be much more ‘basic’ than a super million-dollar film, with curtains to open up a new scene, and there were limits to the scenes you could perform. It would be hard to perform outside scenes, such as the big meetings in the village hall (which are not even mentioned in the book) and the scene where Abigail goes to fetch the doctor would be too short and pointless to perform on stage, however, it would be in a way effective, as it would reveal more of Abigail’s personality and her bad name in the village.
It would also be quite impossible to show scenes such as Giles Corey being crushed and where the victims of the Salem Witch Trials (such as Proctor) are hung), on a stage. Although you could reveal more of what the characters are thinking and feeling because in a play they could soliloquy. The film starts with individual shots of the girls moving around and meeting up to go to the forest. This scene gets our suspicions arousing, especially when we see the full moon, set clearly in the dark sky: an example of symbolism, as a full moon represents magic and witchcraft.
When the girls get into the forest, they begin dancing and singing. Tituba is the leader, and the girls chant in African style what they want from the devil, and throw their flowers into the fire. This whole scene is full of mystery, with a night setting, and we feel greatly amused when Parris walks by to find Abigail dancing naked. Of course, this was a completely new, added on bit, as in the play we only hear of these events. I think that this is to make it quite clear to the audience about what is happening.
It proves (relating to the McCarthy Era), that something big, which caused hundreds of deaths of honest, innocent victims really could occur from a few young girls singing and dancing in the middle of the night and believing they were calling the devil. I think that this makes a good introduction to the story, and is effective as it builds up a mysterious feel, and tension. As soon as the audience see the first show of Abigail waking up with a jolt in the late night, and the other girls moving around, looking shifty, their attention has been caught. Their interest is engaged into the story and they begin to wonder about what is happening.