The Crucible by Arthur Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've read this before, but it was a very different thing to read it today when I have done genealogy and found I'm a descendant of Elizabeth Proctor and also another woman, Elizabeth Clawson from Stamford, CT also accused in 1792. (There is an interesting book about her called, Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692. ) I have another ancestor, Hugh Jones, and according to the trial transcript, he was supposedly murdered and came to one of the accusers in a trance and said that Elizabeth Proctor murdered him. With all the new genealogy information, I somehow felt it was much more real than I did when I studied it in school, or read The Crucible in my 40s.
I listened to this book done by an excellent cast and I believe the play made the hysteria even more understandable. The play brings to life the sense of chaos and desperation. It also brings out the political and practical reasons that also caused the situation to get out of hand. It shows how the struggles between Samuel Parris and his congregation led to a polarization within the town. Parris seemed to have no skill at mediation and his action served his own cause as well as those parishioners who followed him.
The play also showed how the situation originally was a tool to get back at many of the villagers but it soon got out of hand. You have a number of people who realized that some people like Rebecca Nurse could not possibly be witches, but if that was true, then the whole pack of cards would tumble to the ground and they would be implicated in the deception.
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