December 15, 2014
Arthur Miller: Fake v. Real
Arthur Miller took quite a few liberties with history in writing The Crucible. While Miller used characters grounded on actual people, the characters in the play were crafted and created by him. Arthur Miller takes the reader into the society and community of Salem, introducing him or her to a densely populated cast of characters who represent all different sorts of personalities. Because Miller used such a unique way of writing The Crucible, people began to essentially believe it to be entirely true. Arthur Miller made it to be clear that he was not trying to revision history but to give a mental image of what took place during the Salem Witch Trials in the late 1600’s. Arthur Miller made several changes. He changes the age difference between two main characters, Abigail Williams and John proctor from 61 and 11, correspondingly, to mid-thirties and 17, supporting the plot line of an affair between the two. Other changes included the number of girls in the actual event was reduced and, the myriad amount of judges that were there at the time of the trials, were also condensed. He made these changes in The Crucible to give different perspectives of the Salem Witch trials.
During Act One of The Crucible, it is drawn to the reader’s attention that there was an intimate encounter between two main characters, John Proctor and Abigail Williams. Arthur Miller lowers the age gap between the two in order to make it more believable to a modern audience. The ages were changed to John being in his mid-thirties and Abigail being 17. In the actual framework of this story, Abigail was 11 years old and John was 61, and there was not an affair. He changes the ages of the two also to refrain from the idea that John Proctor would be looked upon as a pedophile. In Miller’s article in the New York Times, he says “John Proctor had bedded Abigail…” he chose a word like “bedded” instead of “raped”, which is what it would have been, except that it didn’t happen at all. Arthur Miller allows Abigail to give new meaning to the phrase "all is fair in love and war." In the story she is depressed over her sexual encounter with John Proctor for seven months. The more she thinks about the affair, the more Abigail convinces herself that Proctor loves her but cannot express his love because of Elizabeth Proctor, whom is John Proctor’s wife. Abigail continues to review and edit her memories until they accurately portray her as the center of Proctor's existence. Rather than seeing herself as an awkward 17 old who took advantage of a man's loneliness and insecurity during Proctor’s wife's illness, she sees herself as Proctor's true love and his ideal choice for a wife. She believes she has only to eliminate Elizabeth Proctor so that she and Proctor can marry and fulfill her fantasy.
Other changes included the number of girls in the actual event and the amount of power the girls had. There were too many to put into inscription so instead were combined into one character. Arthur Miller says “Dramatic purposes have sometimes required many characters to be fused into one –some of which played the exact same role in the actual historical events.” In other words the majority of the girls were exactly the same under certain circumstances, so instead of having the girls individually characterized, they were united into one character. This also prevented, the reader from being highly confused; having so much characters would make it harder to tell the difference of each one. In The Crucible