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.
Let's set the scene...
Taylor is, yet again, harassing Luke about getting into the spirit and decorating his diner for autumn, along with the rest of Stars Hollow. Luke happens to stumble upon a preoccupied Lorelai and he tries to figure out what's wrong. To get Luke to leave, Lorelai hops on the Taylor bandwagon.
Luke: I'm not gonna say you look concerned.
Lorelai: I'm not gonna talk about how good you'd look dressed like one of the guys from 'The Crucible.'
Luke: Fair enough.
I read this for the first time in high school. And I remember being just as outraged and frustrated then as I was during this reading. There is something about The Crucible (and the entire story about the Salem witch trials, in fact) that hits me deeply. One of my biggest fears is to be accused of something I am completely innocent of... and the sheer terror of being unable to convince those in authority of the truth. Miller's portrayal of Abigail's accusations and the eventual moral integrity of John Proctor are told in such a way that their juxtaposition shows such glaring character differences between the two individuals. You are brought into Proctor's world... you feel the weight on your chest as your entire world turns on it's axis and people you have known and loved your entire life begin to see you in a different light.
The Salem witch trials were a sad time in our nation's history. Unfortunately, we've seen this same unfounded hysteria repeat itself time and time again. It was not simply a matter of ignorance due to the time period, it was a matter of a revelation of the darker side of human nature... the animalistic desire for self-preservation at any cost.
Who do I see reading this in the Stars Hollow gazebo?
Rory would enjoy, not only the story from a time in our country's history, but she would appreciate the redemption of John Proctor against all odds.