Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

April Books 20) The Crucible, by Arthur Miller

A great work, of course, about mass hysteria, groupthink, and evil. The editor notes in the foreword that for today's audience the McCarthy hearings, which were on his mind as he wrote, actually require more explanation than the Salem witch trials, which have been given a new lease of historical consciousnes largely by Miller's play; which is kind of ironic. There are some powerful scenes but I didn't find any standout quotes that lingered; the whole is greater than the parts. My edition includes also a deleted Act 2 Scene 2 set outside in the woods between Proctor and Abigail which makes their relationship more explicit, but I think it works better dramatically to leave that exposition to Act 4.

Despite having worked my way through the complete Shakespeare a year and a half ago, I'm still not great at visualising plays from scripts as I read them, so I hope I can find a screen version of this some time. Miller repeatedly breaks into his own script to give pen-profiles of a number of the characters, which helps to get a sense of how they might appear on stage, but almost all of the characters for whom he does this are male, even though the women are at least as interesting as the men if not more so. In particular this meant I had difficulty telling the teenage girls apart, and I expect I would have no difficulty in doing so in a theatrical production.
Tags: bookblog 2010, nobel laureates
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