Since I can remember, I’ve always loved reading fiction about witches, films and TV shows too. I’ve always had a soft spot for anything magical!
It wasn’t until I had to study The Crucible in school that I really became interested in the history of witches. I didn’t know a lot about “real life” witches or the witch trials. I only knew the likes of “The Worst Witch” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”. I was 19 when studying The Crucible, at which a point I don’t believe I knew anything of the trials and tribulations so many women had gone through in the 1600s and even more recently due to being suspected witches.
The Crucible opened my eyes to the true history of witchcraft and I found it horrifying but couldn’t help but be completely infatuated with the story of the Salem witch trials. How a group of girls breaking the rules somehow turned into what became the worlds best known witch hunt.
The Crucible is the only book I own that’s ever been annotated, the only book I own that’s been read so many times it’s held together by tape. Of course, part of that is because I studied it. Then again, I’ve studied so many books, having studied English Literature at university, and none of those were ever annotated.
The Crucible seemed to trigger something in my mind, it sparked a huge interest in witchcraft and the history of witches that I still carry with me six years on. It encouraged my decision to pursue English Literature with Creative Writing at university, because Arthur Miller’s mirroring of the witch trials and McCarthy communist “witch trials” blew my mind. I found it so clever.
It influenced so many aspects of my life without me even realising at the time and I think that’s the beauty of books. They hold so much influence and so much power. If I hadn’t studied The Crucible, I wouldn’t have gone to Leeds to watch it be performed in a playhouse, that day influenced my decision to go to university in Leeds. If I hadn’t studied English in Leeds, I might not be in the job I’m in now. A job I love! It’s crazy to think how words on a page can influence so much.
The Crucible is one of many books that have shaped my world.
Here’s the synopsis! (From Goodreads):
“I believe that the reader will discover here the essential nature of one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history,” Arthur Miller wrote of his classic play about the witch-hunts and trials in seventeenth-century Salem, Massachusetts. Based on historical people and real events, Miller’s drama is a searing portrait of a community engulfed by hysteria. In the rigid theocracy of Salem, rumors that women are practicing witchcraft galvanize the town’s most basic fears and suspicions; and when a young girl accuses Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch, self-righteous church leaders and townspeople insist that Elizabeth be brought to trial. The ruthlessness of the prosecutors and the eagerness of neighbor to testify against neighbor brilliantly illuminates the destructive power of socially sanctioned violence.
Written in 1953, The Crucible is a mirror Miller uses to reflect the anti-communist hysteria inspired by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s “witch-hunts” in the United States. Within the text itself, Miller contemplates the parallels, writing, “Political opposition… is given an inhumane overlay, which then justifies the abrogation of all normally applied customs of civilized behavior. A political policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence.”