Arthur Miller, who wrote Death of a Salesman, also wrote which other play set during the Salem witch trials?
And the answer: The Crucible.
Photo credit: CLIFF ROLES

First performed in 1953 on Broadway, The Crucible is widely regarded as a canonical work of American drama. It was inspired by the House Un-American Activities Committee and the McCarthy trials of the 1950s.    

Although The Crucible takes place in 1692, Arthur Miller found an apt application of its themes in 1950s McCarthyism. Not surprisingly, then, Miller faced pressure from government sources to tailor his texts to be more "pro-American." While the FBI returned one of Miller's screenplays with suggestions such as using the term "Communists" to define its villains, Miller rejected all such ideas and pulled his script from any production which placed such constraints.

As McCarthyism progressed, a number of Miller’s friends and colleagues were scrutinized by the House Un-American Activities Committee. While some, like Charlie Chaplin, fled to Europe, Elia Kazan— who directed Miller’s play Death of a Salesman — was called before the committee and asked to name people he knew to be Communists. When he cooperated, Miller refused to speak to him again.

The Crucible was not well-received on Broadway, at first. Miller's unusual, impersonal staging was found to lack depth, and critics weren't sure what to make with its metaphorical investigation into modern-day politics. Regardless of such mixed reviews, however, the play went on to win the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play. The following year, a new production won the hearts of audiences across the nation.

In 2000, Miller wrote that The Crucible was “one of the most heavily demanded trade-fiction paperbacks” in the US. Miller added:

“It is only a slight exaggeration to say that, especially in Latin America, The Crucible starts getting produced wherever a political coup appears imminent, or a dictatorial regime has just been over-thrown."

At the time of Miller's writing, the play had sold more than 6 million copies and had been staged steadily since it came out, in productions all over the world. Learn more about the legacy of The Crucible here.


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