The intro must be a full page long. fully developed introductory paragraph. All FIVE (5) components must be included: ATTENTION-GETTER, EXPLANATION OF ATTENTION-GETTER, BACKGROUND HISTORY AS TO WHY MILLER WROTE THE CRUCIBLE, and THESIS WITH CHARACTER CHOICE AND THREE (3) ASPECTS OF MILLER’S STYLE THAT DEMONSTRATES HIS EXCEPTIONAL WRITING. Highlight your complete thesis statement in light blue. Writing Prompt:
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During the communist hearings of the 1950’s, Arthur Miller was motivated to write The Crucible. In order to create an entertaining and historical play that revealed his opinions about the communist hysteria, he modeled his play after the 1692 Salem Witch trials and those who were directly involved. You will write a literary analysis in which you compare and contrast one historical figure to his or her dramatic counterpart featured in Miller’s play. Furthermore, you must examine how Miller’s literary choices (diction, tone, style, symbolism, syntax, characterization) influenced/contributed to his creation of an entertaining and historical work.
Understanding the Assignment: Support your ideas with textual evidence from the play in the textbook and from two other secondary sources and at least one primary source. I am providing you several copies of such sources, along with their correct MLA formatted Works Cited entries, as well as, examples of how you would cite those sources within the paragraphs of your paper using MLA parenthetical citations. You are not limited to the resources I provide for you.
You may NOT use Wikipedia. It is increasingly used by people in the academic community; however, citation from Wikipedia in research papers is considered unacceptable because it is not considered a credible or authoritative source because anyone can edit the information.
HELPFUL RESEARCH SITES:
FORMATING SITE: Use only this site – https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/
*At the teacher’s discretion and after a meeting with Mrs. Bernard, you may work with one other person in this class and turn in this project jointly. Remember: You will have several in-class days to research and create; however, some of the work may have to be done at home or in the public library.*
Helpful Background Information:
In their book Salem Possessed, Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum remark upon the prominent place the Salem witch trials have in America’s cultural consciousness. They observe, “for most Americans the episode ranks in familiarity somewhere between Plymouth Rock and Custer’s last stand” (22). Moreover, they note that because of the trials’ dramatic elements, “it is no coincidence that the Salem witch trials are best known today through the work of a playwright, not a historian . . . When Arthur Miller published The Crucible in the early 1950s, he simply outdid the historians at their own game” (22).
This culminating writing assignment’s goal is to examine the ways in which Miller interpreted the facts of the witch trials and successfully dramatized them. Our investigation into this matter will be guided by artistic and dramatic concerns as we attempt to interpret history and examine Miller’s own interpretations of it. In this process, you will examine some of Miller’s historical sources: biographies of key players (the accused and the accusers) and transcripts of the Salem Witch trials themselves.
By closely reading historical documents (primary sources) and attempting to interpret them, you will be able to put yourself in the place of the playwright; that is, you will be able to look at historical events and the people involved with them and ask, what makes these trials so compelling? What is it about this particular tragic segment of American history that appeals to the creative imagination? How can history be dramatic, and how can drama bring history to life? By reading The Crucible you will see how Miller not only “outdid the historians at their own game,” but also created an authentic American tragic hero.
As you examine historical materials with an eye to their dramatic potential, consider the central questions of psychology and society that so fascinated Miller. Why were the leaders of Salem’s clerical and civil community ready to condemn to death 19 people, who refused to acknowledge being witches, based on supernatural evidence and the hysterical words of young girls? Why would the church and government authorities continue to credit these wild and unsubstantiated stories as respectable people from all walks of life—landowners, women of independent means, neighbors, even clergy—were arrested and brought to trial? What was it about the time period that made such hysteria, and ultimately tragedy, possible?
Entering into the mindset of Puritan New England: Contrary to their stereotype, the Puritans were not killjoys (“party poopers”) when it came to appreciation of art and music; nor did they disapprove of the enjoyment of sex within marriage. The Puritans did, however, hold firmly to their faith and disapproved of other ways to knowing God’s will (for example, the teachings of Anne Hutchinson, Quakerism). Puritans believed in the wickedness of man, and they believed that only God’s chosen elect would be saved. Moreover, they truly believed that God and Satan were active presences in the natural world around them; natural signs must be read to see God’s will or to discover Satan’s tricks. The Salem Puritan community was keenly aware of its own insecure position in regard to faith (who was saved? who wasn’t? how could you tell?), good health, financial position, social status, and geography. Old England was a long way away, and the new world was troubled with danger, not the least of which was the harsh landscape itself and the Native peoples. Anything or anyone that attempted to undermine the church, civic authority, or the cohesion of the community was viewed as a threat. Indeed, fear—of isolation, of death, of chaos, of loss of faith—was very real to them.
Arthur Miller’s Note on Historical Accuracy:
Arthur Miller started The Crucible with a “Note on Historical Accuracy” because he didn’t want people trying to learn the history of the Salem Witch Trials to read his play and assume it to be a true representation of events. While Miller used the names of real people in his play and some of the characters met the same fates in the play and in life, the personalities and motives of the characters in the play were crafted and created by Miller.
Arthur Miller wrote, “This play is not history in the sense in which the word is used by the academic historian. Dramatic purposes have sometimes required many characters to be fused into one; the number of girls involved in the ‘crying out’ has been reduced; Abigail’s age has been raised; while there were several judges of almost equal authority, I have symbolized them all in Hathorne and Danforth. However, I believe that the reader will discover here the essential nature of one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history. The fate of each character is exactly that of his historical model, and there is no one in the drama who did not play a similar — and in some cases exactly the same — role in history.
As for the characters of the persons, little is known about most of them except what may be surmised from a few letters, the trial record, certain broadsides written at the time, and references to their conduct in sources of varying reliability. They may therefore be taken as creations of my own, drawn to the best of my ability in conformity with their known behavior, except as indicated in the commentary I have written for this text.”
Arthur Miller wanted to make it clear that he wasn’t trying to write (or rewrite) history. This would have been impossible for him, given the lack of documentation about some of the key players of the Salem Witch Trial. Instead, Miller developed his characters to fit the play — which at the time it was published, was considered to be a statement about McCarthyism more than it was a retelling of the Salem Witch Trials.
This kind of historical fiction relies on what is called creative license. You’ll see it used frequently in literature and film. (Sorry, but no couple named Jack and Rose cast off on the Titanic, and President Lincoln wasn’t really a vampire hunter.)