Date of Award

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

College/School

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Department/Program

English

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Monika Elbert

Committee Member

Jonathan Greenberg

Committee Member

Keith Slocum

Subject(s)

Miller, Arthur,--1915-2005--Crucible, Miller, Arthur,--1915-2005--Symbolism, Satire, American, Politics and literature, Allegory

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to demonstrate that while Arthur Miller’s 1952 play The Crucible is often cited as a political allegory of the McCarthy era, analyzing various instances of irony and how language itself becomes almost criminal shows the play can also be interpreted as satire. This thesis begins with a detailed analysis of Puritan life and religion to show how Spectral Evidence and an inherent fear of the Devil become the driving forces of the Salem Trials. From there, an examination of the political climate that inspires Miller to do a close-reading of human behavior shows how officials in both eras are able to easily manipulate language to perpetuate fear. A study of conflicting power dynamics encourages a separation between church and state, and further establishes a correlation between 1692 Salem and 1950s America. Ultimately, this thesis utilizes a Historicist approach to argue that The Crucible can be understood as a satirical allegory because although the judges in both eras claim they want to expose the truth, they instead manipulate facts and place blame in order to hide their personal agendas for political power. This thesis concludes in agreement with Miller that “The Crucible was an attempt to make life real again, palpable and structured. One hoped that a work of art might illuminate the tragic absurdities of an anterior work of art that was called reality, but was not. It was the very swiftness of change that lent it this surreality” (“Are You Now” n.p.).

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