The Crucible

( 302 )

Overview

The place is Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, an enclave of rigid piety huddled on the edge of a wilderness. Its inhabitants believe unquestioningly in their own sanctity. But in Arthur Miller's edgy masterpiece, that very belief will have poisonous consequences when a vengeful teenager accuses a rival of witchcraft—and then when those accusations multiply to consume the entire village.

First produced in 1953, at a time when America was convulsed by a new epidemic of witchhunting,...

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The Crucible

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Overview

The place is Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, an enclave of rigid piety huddled on the edge of a wilderness. Its inhabitants believe unquestioningly in their own sanctity. But in Arthur Miller's edgy masterpiece, that very belief will have poisonous consequences when a vengeful teenager accuses a rival of witchcraft—and then when those accusations multiply to consume the entire village.

First produced in 1953, at a time when America was convulsed by a new epidemic of witchhunting, The Crucible brilliantly explores the threshold between individual guilt and mass hysteria, personal spite and collective evil. It is a play that is not only relentlessly suspenseful and vastly moving but that compels readers to fathom their hearts and consciences in ways that only the greatest theater ever can.

"A drama of emotional power and impact" —New York Post

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Editorial Reviews

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

  • ISBN-13: 9780140481389
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/1976
  • Series: Plays, Penguin Series
  • Edition description: Penguin Plays
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 17,928
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.34 (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.

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Table of Contents

Plot synopsis
about Arthur Miller
Witch-hunts, 1692-1956
who's who in "The Crucible"
themes in "The Crucible"
text commentary
self-test questions
how to write a course work essay
how to write an examination essay
self-test answers.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 302 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(119)

4 Star

(94)

3 Star

(52)

2 Star

(19)

1 Star

(18)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 302 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Beware of the Cheaper Version!

    For the last four years I have taught "The Crucible" to high school Juniors using a class set of the Penguin Classics version of the play. Needing more copies, I placed an order for some with my school's librarian. Thinking he'd save money, he bought this version.

    *It is not the same version of the play.*

    This version of the play reads more like a script (complete with detailed stage directions and set design/layout) and is better suited for performing the play, not reading it in a classroom setting.

    Differences:
    * This play is divided into 2 main Acts, not the original 4
    * Miller's commentary and character descriptions are omitted (vital sections if you want to link the play to McCarthyism)
    * The dialogue is different; certain (sometimes key) lines are omitted.

    Bottom Line: It's an inferior copy of the play, and it is worth the few extra dollars to buy the other version.

    19 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Absolutely loved it! (Beware Spoiler alert)

    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 Amazon.com 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.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2007

    Interesting...

    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.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2007

    Great Book, Recommend It

    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.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 18, 2009

    A Timeless American Classic

    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.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2011

    Quite An Excellent Book!

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2012

    Coo

    Poo

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2011

    Crusible

    I enjoyed this book. I read this play when i was in 8th grade and loved it. I this that Abigail is lying slut. What a witch

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2011

    Great story

    I found this play to be quite exciting and simply fun to read through. I would read it again in a heartbeat!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2013

    Don't shop here

    My son needed this book on an emergency basis for school, so I ordered it using B&N's same day Manhattan delivery. When it didn't arrive by late afternoon, I called customer service. No, you see. B&N doesn't guarantee that the book will arrive the day you ORDERED it. Au contraire. They may ship it days and days later. It will arrive the same day they SHIP it. Whenever that might be. B&N refused to cancel the order, and the customer service rep was downright nasty.

    My "same day" delivery came a week later, after I bought the book from another brick and mortar store.

    Unless you really don't care when it arrives, shop elsewhere.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2011

    Enjoyable Play

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The crucible

    this book is just an amazing book about true events that took place during the salem witch trials. This book shows the use of many scapegoats to avoid persecution. I am a history nut and i know that during this time if you said you were a witch you would be spared and used to find other witches. If u claimed innocence then you would be hung as a withc because you must be lying. I could reccomend this book to anyone who loves history and great plays.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2014

    This book was intense and weird.  It dealt with injustice within

    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  

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2014

    Intre Intriguing for history types, yet interesting for literature buffs.

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2014

    G r

    T

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2013

    worth it

    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

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2013

    30,0¿666665500000000000000000000998877789998544455556677777777888888888777878788888889988884?

    Fgfd

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2013

    Can anyone tell me how many pages this book is? Thanks :)

    Pages?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2013

    Kalven

    Walks in, picks up his guitar and starts to write a song.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    I have the book in real version

    But i didnt read and im not intending to cuz i hate classics. Just not interested.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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