The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is one of the most famous plays of the 20th Century. In the play, Miller offers an interpretation of the Salem Witchcraft Trials. The Salem Witchcraft Trials occurred in Salem, Massachusetts and nearby communities in 1692. Despite the play being based upon this historical period, there are notable differences between the actual historical events and the play.
Many of the differences between the two results from changes Miller made in the characters. The changes often reflected changes in age, family structure and relationships and the characters response to the trials. Tituba, the slave in the story, leads the girls into the forest. The forest is where the devil resides in the story. She leads the girls in a wild dance. However, this is fiction. In the real case, Tituba did not do this. However, she was accused of witchcraft by Betty and Abigail. Mrs. Parrish was also alive at the time of the trials. In the story, she has been deceased for some time. In real life, John Proctor was also much older and was a tavern owner. In the story, he is young and works as a farmer. Many of the characters in Miller’s work also represent composites of real-life individuals. This is often used by writers as a means of simplifying the story from real life.
The signs and symptoms of being possessed are also different. In Miller’s work, the possessed individual could not be woken; the person remained in a deep sleep. However, in real life, the individual engaged in violent fits and seizures. They also suffered from hallucinations. In the work, Miller also obviously focuses on a few main characters. However, in real life, hundreds had been accused of witchcraft during the period. Obviously he could not write a play about hundreds of characters. Twenty people were actually killed in Salem. Nineteen were hung and one was crushed to death.
It is important to remember that the play is a work of fiction based upon real life events. However, the play should not be used for historical knowledge. Rather, it should be considered a representation of the events in the mind of the writer.