Postechian’s Pick: The Crucible
Postechian’s Pick: The Crucible
  • Reporter Park So-mang
  • 승인 2024.06.12 14:28
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▲The Crucible (1953)
▲The Crucible (1953)

  In a digital age where a tweet ruins lives, Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, stands as a powerful testament to the enduring consequences of public shaming and mob mentality. 

  I first encountered this play as a book in my high school English class. Just like all other books that I read in previous English classes; the work did not intrigue me at all. Even the title was boring and seemed unrelated. However, through the middle of the book, I was shocked by the plot, and by the end, I was overwhelmed by the underlying message. While the play is set in more than 300 years past and was written several decades ago, it perfectly captures the nonsense of modern society. By far, The Crucible is the most enduring and thought-provoking work. 


  The story begins in the Puritan town of Salem, Massachusetts, where a group of young girls, led by Abigail Williams, is caught dancing in the forest and suspected of practicing witchcraft. To avoid punishment, the girls claim they were bewitched and begin accusing other townspeople of consorting with the devil. As hysteria spreads, the town’s authorities initiate a series of trials to root out the supposed witches.

  John Proctor, a local farmer, emerges as the central character. He is a flawed but fundamentally honest man who initially tries to remain uninvolved. However, his wife, Elizabeth Proctor, is accused by Abigail, stemming from an affair she had with John. John Proctor’s struggle becomes one of maintaining his integrity while exposing the lies fueling the witch hunt.

  As the trials progress, the atmosphere of paranoia and fear escalates. Many innocent people are imprisoned, and several are executed. John Proctor, attempting to reveal the truth, faces moral dilemmas and is eventually forced to confess to witchcraft falsely to save his life. However, he ultimately refuses to sign a false confession, choosing to die with his name untarnished.


  When Arthur Miller wrote this play, he intended to critique McCarthyism, in which people accused each other of being communists in the 1950s. Nonetheless, his criticism still applies to our society today. In social media, people accuse and shame each other. Hiding behind the screens, people often engage in virtual witch hunts, where people destroy the target's reputation. Whether the accusation is true or not does not matter, neither does the person getting hurt. The anonymity and immediacy of a digital platform allows individuals to launch unfounded accusations and spread rumors without accountability. “Cancel culture” also exemplifies this, as individuals and even institutions can be quickly ostracized based on allegations that may be exaggerated or unfounded.

  The play’s themes echo loudly in our contemporary world of social media trials and cancel culture. We should remember the tragic ending of wild witchcraft. The history tells us, and the play tells us. The accusations end up hurting our society and eventually pointing at ourselves.