The Crucible (Penguin Classics Series)

The Crucible (Penguin Classics Series)

3.9 259
by Arthur Miller

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"I believe that the reader will discover here the essential nature of one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history," Arthur Miller wrote in an introduction to The Crucible, his classic play about the witch-hunts and trials in seventeenth-century Salem, Massachusetts. Based on historical people and real events, Miller's drama is a searing portrait of a…  See more details below


"I believe that the reader will discover here the essential nature of one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history," Arthur Miller wrote in an introduction to The Crucible, his classic play about the witch-hunts and trials in seventeenth-century Salem, Massachusetts. Based on historical people and real events, Miller's drama is a searing portrait of a community engulfed by hysteria. In the rigid theocracy of Salem, rumors that women are practicing witchcraft galvanize the town's most basic fears and suspicions; and when a young girl accuses Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch, self-righteous church leaders and townspeople insist that Elizabeth be brought to trial. The ruthlessness of the prosecutors and the eagerness of neighbor to testify against neighbor brilliantly illuminate the destructive power of socially sanctioned violence. Written in 1953, The Crucible is a mirror Miller uses to reflect the anti-communist hysteria inspired by Senator Joseph McCarthy's "witch-hunts" in the United States. Within the text itself, Miller contemplates the parallels, writing "Political given an inhumane overlay, which then justifies the abrogation of all normally applied customs of civilized behavior. A political policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence."

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Editorial Reviews

NY Daily News
Strongly written.
NY Times
A powerful drama.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics Series
Product dimensions:
5.14(w) x 7.72(h) x 0.55(d)

Meet the Author

Arthur Miller was born in New York City in 1915 and studied at the University of Michigan. His plays include All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), A View from the Bridge and A Memory of Two Mondays (1955), After the Fall (1963), Incident at Vichy (1964), The Price (1968), The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972) and The American Clock. He has also written two novels, Focus (1945), and The Misfits, which was filmed in 1960, and the text for In Russia (1969), Chinese Encounters (1979), and In the Country (1977), three books of photographs by his wife, Inge Morath. More recent works include a memoir, Timebends (1987), and the plays The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991), The Last Yankee (1993), Broken Glass (1993), which won the Olivier Award for Best Play of the London Season, and Mr. Peter's Connections (1998). His latest book is On Politics and the Art of Acting. Miller was granted with the 2001 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He has twice won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and in 1949 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Christopher Bigsby is professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia. He edited the Penguin Classics editions of Miller's The Crucible, Death of a Salesman, and All My Sons.

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The Crucible (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 3.9 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 259 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for my Honors english class, and at first it was a bit weird, like I kind of didn't understand what was happening. But as I read on, it became a wonderful book that I recommend to any High School student, looking for a good read.
ADBreader More than 1 year ago
Since I was a little girl I've been interested in witch stories and everything related. Not in the Harry Potter kind of way, but in the more realistic; the witch hunts in medieval time Europe, the people hanged and burnt at the stake and the Salem Witch Trials. Because I was a little girl who loved to watch TV documentaries, my knowledge in those subjects was fed by channels like Discovery and later History. I'd never read before an actual book about this, like I've done with other historic matters of my interest, until some weeks ago, all the information I wanted to know was looked up in the internet. One day I was looking up for books at like I usually do, when I came up with this play, a classic of American Literature by Arthur Miller (may he rest in peace), based in the Salem Witch Trials of 1962. As I normally do, I did research on the book and thought about it. It wasn't until some weeks ago I finally acquired it. I just finished reading The Crucible some days ago and I absolutely adored it. I think Mr. Miller did an excellent job bringing the characters and the story back to live. The historical accuracy of the play is not precise, for he fused some characters into one, increased and decreased the characters' ages, reduced the number of girls involved and developed the characters' personalities to relate among others. Above all this, he made of the play a masterpiece, just like he did with the 1996 screenplay for the film version starring Daniel Day-Lewis and , one of my favorite actresses, Winona Ryder, who I must admit did an excellent job portraying her first antagonist role, Abigail Williams. It's a shame the box-office numbers didn't match the great critics the film received. Back on praising the play, one of the things it fascinated me the most was the language used, which was taken out of the King James Bible. I absolutely loved how the dialogues showed in a beautiful way the relationships between the characters, whether they were lovers, family or enemies. Through all the play, I was in Abigail Williams' side. I don't know if it was because Winona did an excellent job in the role, or I just had fun with the way she "sported", to say it in her words, with everyone, and how she controlled the rest of the people. Historically speaking, Abby was a twelve year old orphan that accused town people of witchcraft, contrary to the seventeen year old girl of the play. Miller increased Abigail's age to allow the plot device of the relationship with John Proctor, whose age was decreased from 60 to 30. The story begins with the girls doing some kind of "ritual" in the woods. (this part is just mentioned in the play, but it is shown in the film)The Reverend finds them. Rumors of witchcraft start to fly, when some girls can't wake up. The presence of the Devil in Salem is feared. From there the plot keeps developing, accusations start and town people are arrested. Along the story a lot of people turn their backs at each other to save themselves. At the end of the play the accused citizens remaining are hanged. Even though I absolutely enjoyed reading The Crucible, I wouldn't recommend this to somebody that likes reading teenage love stories or is looking for a light, short book, for it is very dark and complex. If someone wants to read this, I think he or she should read about the subject first or watch some documentary to get familiar with the subject. Watching the film is a great visual help.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in fourth grade, and I recently read it again. I forogt how interesting it was. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a realistic story about a major event that occured during the 17th century.
AlexanderMack More than 1 year ago
Arthur Miller's The Crucible is just about as classic and timeless as American literature gets. It has withstood the test of time and proved itself to be relevant to all times and peoples. Miller's play achieves this great importance through its universal theme of persecution, one of humanity's great, unending problems. The Crucible is set in Salem, Massachusetts, in the year 1692. The Puritan religion rules the people, and Puritan law, believed to be the will of God, is the law of the land. The story centers around a group of young girls in the town who claim to have seen other townspeople with the Devil, which would mean those people are witches. Led by Abigail Williams, the girls convince the paranoid Christian courts that many innocent townspeople are really witches bound to the Devil. The protagonist, John Proctor, is a farmer in Salem. Abigail used to serve him and his wife, and Proctor had an affair with her. Yet, he regrets his unfaithfulness to his wife Elizabeth and is trying to live respectably. It quickly becomes apparent, however, that Abigail's driving force is her bitter love for John and her spite for Elizabeth. Thus, when Elizabeth is arrested on accusations of witchcraft, John Proctor leads a battle against Abigail and the courts in order to save his wife and his friends from being hanged on charges that are completely false. This battle, however, becomes more challenging when Proctor himself is accused of witchcraft and undergoes an inner battle over his own goodness. With The Crucible, Arthur Miller masterfully captures the mindlessness of persecution. The mass hysteria in Salem makes the senseless murders of many innocent people seem righteous to numerous citizens of the town. Miller connected the events in his play with a modern day witch hunt in his time, led by Joe McCarthy, who accused innumerable innocent Americans of being communist spies in the Red Scare of the 1950s. In 2009, the genocide in Darfur and ongoing racial discrimination in the South are just two examples of this same kind of persecution. We may not see it on a large scale every day, but persecution is a part of each of our lives. Arthur Miller teaches us why John Proctor fights against it and why we must fight against it. Thus, The Crucible is not just relevant to Puritans or Americans in the 1950s but to all people.
emma-bear_ More than 1 year ago
The Crucible by Arthur Miller was a tale of the the witchcraft trials in Salem, Massachusetts during the late 17th century. It was an interesting way to learn about the witchcraft trials without having the feel of reading a textbook. I feel that this was a wonderfully written piece, and that it wasn't difficult to read like other books about this time period. I would reccommend this to anyone looking for something about the witchcraft trials, or anyone who just wanted a good read.
Allison Harris More than 1 year ago
I found this play to be quite exciting and simply fun to read through. I would read it again in a heartbeat!
vderuiter More than 1 year ago
When reading the Crucible by Arthur Miller, I found that it was rather interesting to read. Even though that it was not my favorite book, there came a yearning to follow through with the book, to read till the end. The Crucible is a fictional play, based upon the witchcraft which had taken place during the Salem Witch Trials. This is always intriguing when an author takes past events and creates a fictional masterpiece. I was rather pleased with this play, but I will not be reading it any time soon, but it is worth the money to keep in the book case for later use.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You could have just bought it on the nook #WhatEver
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter read this book for a summer reading project and she was impressed with the book and enjoyed the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book. Captures the true wickedness of the Salem Witchfraft Trials. Overall, it is a fantastic read. Would recommend to ages 12 and up. Some parts are a bit violent and intense. xx
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Let it be known that I enjoy reading before I go into why this is quite possibly my most hated book ever. In my AP English class, we were forced to read this along with two other books, but we mainly focused on this one, and it was the worst of the bunch. The characters are a bunch of gullible idiots who will believe anything that the antagonist tells them for no adequately explained reason, the only characters I can relate with are unceremoniously killed off, and I don't buy the supposed slow downward spiral into chaos that it seems Miller was going for. Rather than a steady decline, it is more of a plummet, leaving me wondering 'Why did that happen?' and 'How can anyone be so easily deceived?' There is no steady decline of people's morals as the tension grows, but everyone seems to start pointing fingers at the drop of a hat, which is one of my main complaints. The play had so much potential. It could have shown how paranoia and distrust can slowly seep into the fabric of society and eat away at our morals until little remains, but it comes of as clumsy, and the characters' motivations as contrived. I was looking forward to reading this book, and was massively disappointed. Although maybe it's because I'm an atheist, who knows?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed teaching this text for many years to my high school English classes.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read this play at least once.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very good interpretation to an event that's changed dramatically over time. It is NOT a factual piece so if you are reading this for the sake of knowing what happened in the Salem Witch Trials this is not the book you want to start off with. It's still enjoyable if you are looking for a roller coaster ride that brings imagination to 1692 Salem.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was intense and weird.  It dealt with injustice within a political system and the power of accusations. I personally did not enjoy this book as much as others but at times it was intriguing. The best scene was when they were at trial and everyone went crazy. I felt this book was boring at times with the long speech and I did not particularly like the setting. Overall if you enjoy books that are dated to later centuries and has "witches" then you will enjoy this book  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Let me say that this book is not 100% accurate in everyway but, the premise is indeed correct. Well-written for the most part and entertaing for established readers. Not a light read in any fashion. Heavy subject matter dealing with on of the many dark times in the world.
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Im not even done with it but i love it and cant wait to see the movie...the only thing there is, is that it is kinda hard to follow if you do not pay attention to what you are reading...but other than that it is a really great book