While reading Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible, the audience may believe the play is a literal representation of the events that occurred in the Salem Witch Trials. Despite this, many aspects of the play are in fact fictional. Arthur Miller concocted each of the fictive details in the play purposely. Behind each of the modifications Miller made, lies a specific reason for that particular change. Within The Crucible, Arthur Miller altered the relationships between characters, ages of characters, and small details within characters’ lives in order to benefit the overall plot of the play.
The first factual change Miller fabricated within The Crucible is the relationship between Abigail Williams and John Proctor. In the play, the two partook in a “hush hush” affair. In the real events of the Salem Witch Trials, however, this did not occur (Martin 2). Arthur Miller added this information into the play intentionally in order to intensify the dramatic account of the play. In The Crucible, Abigail states, “Oh, I marvel such a strong man may let such a sickly wife be−” (Miller 1246). This quote demonstrates that Abigail despised Elizabeth Proctor. Therefore, the affair provided Williams with a motive to accuse Elizabeth of witchcraft.
The second historical change made in the play is the ages in which of the main characters. In The Crucible, Proctor is portrayed to be within his thirties. Also, Abigail is stated explicitly to be seventeen years of age. In spite of this, the real Proctor and Abigail differ greatly from the ages in which Miller illustrates them to be. The real-life Abigail Williams was around eleven years of age during the Salem Witch Trials. The legitimate John Proctor, on the other hand, was in his sixties during the trials (Martin 2).
There are a few justifications to explain why Miller made such changes to the characters’ ages. The first reason why he did so is because the changes in age assist in making the liaison between the Proctor and Abigail more cogent. Overall, the affair between the two characters is the main ingredient of the whole play. After all, the vindication behind why Abigail began the witchcraft accusations was because she was in love with Proctor. In the play, if the love affair did not exist, then the witchcraft allegations would not have began. Therefore, the primary change that Miller made in The Crucible was modifying the ages of characters.
The final change that Miller makes in the play involves altering small details within characters’ lives. A distinct example of a character like so, is Anne Putnam. Within the play, she had a total of eight children in her lifetime. Despite this, of the eight, only one girl named Ruth survived for a short period of time. In reality, the Putnam’s child who survived was named Anne, just like her mother (Burns 4). In order to prevent confusion of mother and daughter, Miller replaced Anne Junior, with Ruth.
Within The Crucible, Arthur Miller changed the relationships between characters, ages of characters, and small details within characters’ lives, in order to benefit the plot of the play. Although Miller makes numerous historical changes within the play, there is a logical explanation for why he made each altercation. All in all, these adjustments helped to amalgamate the Salem Witch Trials into The Crucible. Just like any other writer, Miller’s main aspiration was to make his play as engrossing and comprehensible as possible. In order to accomplish this, making multitudinous factual changes within the play was necessary.
Miller, Arthur. “The Crucible”. Prentice Hall: The American Experience. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, 2002. 1233-1334. Print.
Burns, Margo. “Arthur Miller’s The Crucible: Fact or Fiction.” 14 July 2000. http://www.ogram.org/17thc/crucible.shtml. Web.