Prof. Keith Jacobson
American History 1
27 September 2014
Chasing Blame: A Study of The Crucible
When it comes to community entertainment, nothing beats a good, old-fashioned witch hunt. It's so much easier to just accuse someone of witchcraft and have them hanged then to actually deal with your problems. Towns from New York to Savannah participate in this outrageous behavior, and when it comes to films depicting such grand dissipation, one of the best is Nicholas Hytner's The Crucible.
Based on Arthur Miller's play of the same name, The Crucible is set in the small settler town of Salem, Massachusetts in the early 1690's, a town with many young ladies looking for love. In their desperation, the girls consult a slave from Barbados named D'Jouba who is believed to have ancient voodoo powers. According to the opening scene of the film, the girls are attempting to conjure their various crushes into loving them with D'Jouba's help.
They each bring something to contribute to the potion and add these items to the pot whilst exclaiming the man's name. The town reverend, who is also the uncle of one of the girls, discovers them in the woods dancing around the potion, which sets into motion a series of events that leads to even the most beloved people in the town to be accused of and hanged for witchcraft.
The original play was written in 1953 in response to the infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy, who at the time was leading a "witch hunt" of sorts for the arch-nemesis of the United States, the communist. Many of the people targeted in McCarthy's hunt were celebrities based solely on the reason that they spend a lot of time outside the country; Miller topped this exclusive list and in response...