I revisited a play tonight that I first encountered my junior year of high school. In the five years since 11th grade, I have thought of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible now and again, but I haven’t re-watched (or re-read) it until tonight.
It’s incredible. Obviously something of it’s masterful artistry must have struck me in high school since the memory of it has stuck with me for half a decade (whoa-now there’s a scary thought), but I didn’t realize until I watched it again tonight just how well crafted and moving it truly is. A chilling dramatic rendition of the infamous Salem witch trials (written-significantly-during the Second Red Scare that swept the US during the 1950s), this play is one of haunting beauty. It is also downright infuriating.
The climax of the play literally gave me goosebumps as I watched it again tonight. In this scene the main character John Proctor (powerfully portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis) refuses to turn in his signed false confession to witchcraft-even though doing so would afford him liberty and a re-union with his family-because his name is on it, “and I can not have another in my life.” (You can watch that scene on you-tube here. You have to skip the first 2 minutes or so to get to the actual clip, however; it’s part of some student’s project-all I could find. Sorry 🙂 Including themes of honor, the value of a good name, the ultimate victory of the truth, lust, and authentic love, this play is well-worth the 2 hours or so it would take you to encounter it. I highly recommend it, although it is a bit on the weightier side.
(Thanks, also, to my junior high school English teacher for her stellar, thorough work in walking my English class through this play five years ago; I’m sure it is largely due to her excellent instruction on The Crucible that I remembered it well enough to want to watch it again on a Sunday night…instead of doing homework. Oops. Thanks Mrs. Mayer!)