To the mid- 1980s, noted scholars analysing Crucible concentrated on its historical accuracy, the role of theocratic law, its political relevance to McCarthyism, and the character of John Proctor. Historical Accuracy Much criticism of The Crucible focuses on the historical accuracy of the play. Some critics castigate Miller for manipulating the actual events; others see historical relevance to political events of the 1950s. From the very start of the original production, Miller was quite candid about his intentions to vary the facts1 of the historical trials. In many essays, especially in his ‘Introduction’ to the Collected Plays and the accompanying notes to the published text, Miller explained how after reading the original transcripts of the examinations of the Salem villagers, he altered the historical events to meet his dramatic purposes. The most obvious alteration is John Proctor’s adultery with the servant girl Abigail Williams to explain the crying out against the historical Elizabeth Proctor (see Chapter 1). As Miller told Henry Hewes, ‘A playwright has no debt of literalness to history.’2 As Chapter 1 explains, Miller intended parallels between the historical events in Salem and the political events in the United States around which he wrapped the personal story of John Proctor’s adultery, for which Miller may have had personal empathy. Miller wrote an historically based play, not a history play.
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