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The Crucible, Fact or Fiction?

Fact or fiction? Truth or myth? The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is a combination of all of them. It takes place in the summer of 1692 in Salem Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials. This story is actually based upon real events, yet the truth has been indulged upon in order to create a more dramatic and suspenseful play. Although the central themes, events, and characters are basically somewhat factual, many of the main details are not.

In the play, the central theme is based upon Abigail William s personal vengeance towards Elizabeth and John Proctor. However, in actuality, this was not the case. There never was and affair between John and Abigail, which was quite a shock to me when I found that out. Another gigantic fictional theme is the dancing in the woods at night with Tituba. In the play this is the event that started the entire scare after Rev. Parris supposedly discovered them dancing in the woods. However this major event amazingly never occurred! There never was and wild dancing rite in the woods led by Tituba, and certainly Rev. Parris never stumbled upon them (Burns, Margo). In fact, it was merely a childish game in which the girls attempted to foretell who their future husbands would be with an egg in a glass, so as to resemble a crystal ball (Burns, Margo). These stunning facts really amazed me because these themes are what the entire play is based upon!

There are also several inaccuracies in the events that occur in the play. One example is that in reality, it was Betty and Abigail Williams who became sick after the night of dancing in the woods, not Ann Putnam (Miller changed her name to Ruth in the play because both her and her mother were named Ann). Also, they were not put into a deep sleep in which they could not wake. The exact opposite occurred. They threw large physical fits and would not calm down (It is believed they had eaten a hallucinogen which caused them to see things). Another example is that in the play Ann Putnam charged Sarah Good with sending out her spirit to kill all of her children as they were born. Actually, the Putnams had 6 living children at the time. They did indeed loose a fair amount, but not all of them as stated my Miller. A third example is that George Jacobs was not accused of sending his spirit out on Putnam s daughter and laying on her at night. In fact, during that time, women were the ones who were accused of this because they were seen as the lusty, sexual creatures whose allure men must guard against! (Burns, Margo). All of these events were simply exaggerated upon so that the reader would find it more interesting.

Finally the characters themselves were exaggerated on to make the story even more interesting. One startling piece of information is that not only did John Proctor not have an affair with Abigail Williams (as stated in the play), but also it would be impossible to happen, for John was over 60 years old and Abigail was merely 11! Miller changed both of their ages in order to make the concept of the affair more believable. He made Abigail 17 and Proctor in his 30 s. Another fact is that John was not even a farmer (and he was accused in the play of witchcraft because he plowed his fields on Sunday, hah!), but a tavern keeper. Several other quick facts are that Betty Parris s mother was NOT dead, as stated in the play. She simply moved to Salem Town right before the trials to avoid conviction. Finally, Tituba was married to a man named John Indian (who was not mentioned at all in the play) and did not ever practice devil worship (Burns, Margo).

In conclusion, this play was greatly exaggerated in order to suite such a diverse group of readers. However, most of the main points and events did actually happen. The truth was just stretched to make it sound more interesting to the reader.

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