Tag Archives: US literature

Arthur Miller and The Crucible

I have some students from China now studying this play in Year 11 in Australia. This is interesting, as Arthur Miller has actually written about how the play was received in China. For example, in 2002 there was a new production in New York directed by British director Richard Eyre, a review of which you may see here. Miller recalled the play’s first performance in Shanghai — which is where my students come from.

Eyre often tells the story of having directed a production of “The Crucible” in Edinburgh in 1967, and meeting one of the students from that audience 25 years later: “He said it woke him up to the latent tyranny of a repressive society. He became a politician. His name was Tony Blair.”

For Eyre, “This play thrives across the boundaries of history and geography, culture and race. It’s just as accessible in Lagos [Nigeria] and Beijing as in Los Angeles and New York.”

Miller recalls when “The Crucible” was running in Shanghai in 1967. “The [Chinese] saw the play as being a complete analogy to the Gang of Four,” he says. “I later talked with a Chinese woman who had seen it, and there were tears in her eyes. She said the exact same interrogations took place under the Gang of Four.”

He says that the real message of the play is “to keep God and the civic civilization separate, where they belong. Backing up the government with the imprimatur of the church, any church, is a catastrophe.”

My students need a fairly simple guide to start with. I suggest Wikipedia is as good a place as any. There is a brief Act by Act summary, and some good further references.

A site to support students who want to go deeply into the historical background of the story and of the context in which the play appeared is Understanding “The Crucible” which leads to much that is interesting.

Here is an essay Miller wrote in June 2000: “Are You Now Or Were You Ever?”  That tells you a great deal about how and why the play came to be written.

The Crucible is a really wonderful play and brilliant on stage. I have seen two stage productions, one really quite awful in a country town in NSW some years ago. Despite the level of acting I still found shivers going down my spine during the court scenes, and I still marvelled at the rich language Miller found for his characters.


See also these YouTubes about Arthur Miller.

Arthur Miller tribute film (part 1)

Arthur Miller tribute (part 2) This includes The Crucible.

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Posted by on July 17, 2007 in English studies, HSC, Media/Film studies, questions asked, student help, works/authors


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Studying the Gothic, or Emily Bronte?

I have had coachees doing this interesting genre, and I know others are. So here are a few good sites, once you have been sensible and checked or Wikipedia.


Online Edgar Allan Poe Exhibition from Cornell University: Nevermore: The Edgar Allan Poe Collection of Susan Jaffe Tane, source of the picture above.
The Literary Gothic ‘is a Web guide to all things concerned with literary Gothicism, which includes ghost stories, “classic” Gothic novels and Gothic fiction (1764-1820), and related pre- and post-Gothic and supernaturalist literature written prior to the mid-C20. Its target audience is all students and fans of the Gothic, regardless of age, academic level, profession, or just about anything else.’
The Gothic: Materials for Study: “With this question in mind, we have assembled this compilation of Gothic “materials for study.” We imagine the project as a course reader for an undergraduate college course on the Gothic. The primary texts for the course include nine novels that we feel represent the”canonized Gothic”; novels whose popularity in both their time and ours attests to their appeal and longevity.” (University of Virginia).
The Victorian Web ‘is the WWW translation of Brown University’s Context 61, which serves as a resource for courses in Victorian literature.’ It is excellent.
Touched by the Hand of Goth: Classics of Gothic Horror Cinema, a good introductory essay by a Finnish student.
GOTHIC/HORROR FICTION QUIZ by Sara Martin. The answers are here.


Emily Bronte from CUNY Brooklyn is concise and very relevant to the kind of study required here in NSW. Follow the links there.

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Posted by on February 9, 2007 in English studies, HSC, literature genres, questions asked, student help, works/authors


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