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The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Arthur Miller
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 Feb 2000 Penguin Modern Classics

Arthur Miller's depiction of innocent men and women destroyed by malicious rumour, The Crucible is a powerful indictment of McCarthyism and the 'frontier mentality' of Cold War America, published in Penguin Modern Classics.

Arthur Miller's classic parable of mass hysteria draws a chilling parallel between the Salem witch-hunt of 1692 - 'one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history' - and the American anti-communist purges led by Senator McCarthy in the 1950s. The story of how the small community of Salem is stirred into madness by superstition, paranoia and malice, culminating in a violent climax, is a savage attack on the evils of mindless persecution and the terrifying power of false accusations.

Arthur Miller (1915-2005), American dramatist, was born in New York City. In 1938 Miller won awards for his comedy The Grass Still Grows. His major achievement was Death of a Salesman, which won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for drama and the 1949 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. The Crucible was aimed at the widespread congressional investigation of subversive activities in the US; the drama won the 1953 Tony Award. Miller's autobiography, Timebends: A Life was published in 1987.

If you enjoyed The Crucible, you might like Miller's Death of a Salesman, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'One of a handful of great plays that will both survive the twentieth century and bear witness to it'

John Peter, Sunday Times

Frequently Bought Together

The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts (Penguin Modern Classics) + GCSE English Text Guide - The Crucible (Text Guides) + The Crucible: York Notes for GCSE
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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (24 Feb 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141182555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141182551
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Arthur Miller (1915-2005) was born in New York City in 1915 and studied at the University of Michigan. During his lifetime he was celebrated as the pre-eminent playwright of his generation and won numerous awards for his work including two New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards, two Emmy awards and three Tony Awards for his plays, as well as a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement. His 1949 play Death of a Salesman was the first play to scoop all three major US awards: the New York Critics Circle Award, a Tony Award for Best Author and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His many plays include All My Sons, Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, A Memory of Two Mondays, After the Fall, Incident at Vichy, The Price, The Creation of the World and Other Business, and The American Clock; later plays include Broken Glass, Resurrection Blues and the aptly-titled Finishing the Picture. His other published work includes the novel Focus, The Misfits which was filmed in 1960, two collections of short stories, the memoir Timebends and various volumes of non-fiction including three books in collaboration with his wife, photographer Inge Morath.

Product Description

About 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. His most 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). He has twice won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and in 1949 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
A small upper bedroom in the home of reverend Samuel parris, Salem, Massachusetts, in the spring of the year 1692. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating and horrifying 18 Oct 2000
By A Customer
Miller's title is appropriate for the play. He creates an atmosphere and mood in the play that is significant to the time that the Salem witch hunt took place and of the Puritan culture. Miller successfully captures the religious fanaticism of the period and adds it effectively to the play. I would recommend this play to everyone. It is very different to miller's other plays. It is superb from beginning to end.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A play that can survive GCSE analysis! 7 July 2006
I studied this play for my GCSE english course (as did many of the reviewers!) and .. I was impressed! It is hard to really appreciate literature when you are spoon fed every 'intent' and 'meaning' behind everyline. It's hard to finish and book that you've slowed disected along with 24 other studends and think 'wow'. But Miller managed it.

Incredibly quotable - I don't have a copy any more(!) but I can still remember some beautiful lines. One was already quoted by another reviewer!

Here are a couple of longer ones I found on a website:

'A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For them that quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud - God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!'

'Hell and Heaven grapple on our backs, and all our old pretenses ripped away.'

'You bring down heaven and raise up a whore! '

Also interesting, are the passages aside from the script, written by Arthur Miller to embellish the depth of the play. It works on many levels - An (admittedly inaccurate) historical account of the Salem witch trials; a reflection of the anti-communist 'witch hunts' of the McCarthy era which Miller was himself caught up in; and all at once it is also a glimpse at the nature of humanity and a struggle between good and evil, imagined and real, and the choices that people have to make.

I've also seen the film, which I think was very good, right up until the end, where the final scene (added to the end of the play) was (in my opinion) an embarassing mis-interpretation of the whole meaning!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely frightening 23 May 2001
By A Customer
This book, set during Salem in 1692, mirrors the McCarthy witch hunt of the 1950's. Whereas then communists were rooted out, in Salem, it's witches. Hysteria grips the town, and Miller portrays this perfectly, and explores a frightening realism of the human mind. Feuds from long ago come back into light, and no-one is safe, not even from their children. This is an incredible play, and is firmly regarded as one of the best plays ever written.
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When John Proctor says these words to his wife Elizabeth at the conclusion of this play, he has faced accusations of being in league with the Devil and is ready to face consequences meted out by the religious tribunal he has faced. Though he has sinned by committing adultery with Abigail Williams, he believes the witchcraft trials which have ultimately consumed him to be the result of human, rather than godly, forces. Playwright Arthur Miller sets the scene for this action in an Overture explaining the theocracy which controlled Salem. Powerful clergymen, some more rigid in their interpretations of Scripture than others, "protected" citizens by enforcing conformity with the church's teachings.
Through detailed character sketches inserted into the structure of the play, Miller broadens the realism, and when a group of hysterical young women makes accusations of witchcraft, resulting ultimately in the deaths of nineteen of their fellow-citizens, Miller has prepared his audience to accept the trials and the behavior of the characters as plausible. His straightforward prose, use of homely details, and simple sentence structure (despite its archaic tone) further add to the realism. When the affair between John Proctor and Abigail Williams, who precipitates and then promotes the hysteria among the young "afflicted" girls, is revealed within the play, the modern reader is given a "hook" with which to identify with characters and situations which might otherwise feel foreign.
Miller's play is a powerful revelation of themes involving mass hysteria, fear of the unknown, and a belief in the essential evil hidden within the hearts of men.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite plays of all time 13 April 2004
I first studied The Crucible with my GCSE English class and absolutely adored it. I come from both an English and Dramatic background and can appreciate the play both perspectives. As a piece of literature it is cleverly written and the author makes much use of relationships between characters to build suspense and, it has to be said, sheer frustration. You find yourself pulled into the argument about the witch trials and wanting to bang the characters' heads together. The horrifying part is that the superstition and personal revenge prevalent throughout the play was, in real life, as destructive as Miller portrays it.
Miller's central characters often follow a similar theme. They are people you can both admire and criticise and all go through a journey of self realisation during the play, which culminates in a final decision that has far-reaching consequences. John Proctor, in this case, would be a wonderful challenge for any male actor to attempt. Elizabeth is also a very complex woman and Abigail is downright evil!
I recommend this play without reservation and often lend it to friends of mine, who never fail to be impressed. Be warned, if you want to produce this play the director and cast need to understand it very well and take the time to work on the unspoken dialogue as well as the printed words.
It is my ambition to play Elizabeth Proctor some day!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 days ago by connie girvan
5.0 out of 5 stars The Crucible
Very good price and quick delivery.
Published 24 days ago by Lorraine Brzezicki
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good condition
Published 1 month ago by Tony Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars The actual novel / book is great. I love the plot although at some...
The actual novel / book is great. I love the plot although at some points I feel it went quite slow and causing it not to be interesting any longer. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Talha
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My son loved it
Published 2 months ago by kim bader
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Play
I have just reacquainted myself with this play after seeing it live at the Old Vic. It was my 3rd visit to it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bacchus
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Loved It!!
Very compelling read!! I could not put it down!! It's very distressing that this is based on history and that a community can be broken in such a way that they have to struggle... Read more
Published 2 months ago by tara jarrett
2.0 out of 5 stars ENGLISH
Not a terrible read, but I am forced to read this for my English GCSE. I did enjoy analysing it though:)
Published 4 months ago by Katie
3.0 out of 5 stars Just what i needed
Not much to say about the book except from... if you are studying this at school for literature (in which case, unlucky) this is exactly what you need. That's about it....
Published 6 months ago by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! Perfect condition
Brilliant play, brand new condition. No excess text that isn't wanted. Pocket size with cool front cover. Exactly what I was looking for
Published 7 months ago by Gabrielle Nellis-Pain
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