Why I Wrote The Crucible
- Word count: 741
- Category: Crucible
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When Arthur Miller’s The Crucible was being made into a movie, he decided to write an article called “Why I Wrote the Crucible” in the New Yorker. In his article, Miller explains his reasons behind writing his play. In this article, he compares the mass hysteria and fear of the Red Scare to the fear of people in other historical events, such as the Salem Witch Trials, which is the subject of The Crucible. Miller demonstrates his purpose by using many rhetorical strategies such as diction, persuasive appeal that help the reader understand his motivation to write his hit play.
Arthur Miller utilizes many descriptive words to receive the desired response from his audience. Miller uses diction right out of the gate. In the first paragraph, Miller uses phrases such as “biting irony”, “frigid jail”, and “inevitable as rain”, that all convey a dark and negative tone to the reader. In the context of this article, “biting irony” is used to describe how Miller feels about his play being made into a movie. “Biting irony” indicates that Miller is unhappy about the recreation of his play.
Irony isn’t always used to communicate a negative tone, but when Miller adds biting to irony, he effectively creates the negative tone he desires. “Frigid jail” brings unhappy thoughts to the reader’s mind by itself, but the way it is used by Miller makes it even more effective. Miller uses this phrase to describe Joan Allen “lying pregnant in a frigid jail”. This puts a very dark, melancholy picture in the reader’s mind. Nobody wants to be in jail, and the thought of a pregnant woman in a freezing cold jail cell makes the reader feel the sad tone that Miller is striving for.
The last instance of diction used in the opening paragraph, “inevitable as rain”, further portrays the negative tone that is intended by Miller. Miller uses this phrase to explain that he knew his play was going to be made into a movie sooner or later, and that he wasn’t happy about it. Rain itself creates a gloomy tone in the reader’s mind, and rain being inevitable makes the negative tone even more blatant. Miller effectively uses rain being inevitable to further demonstrate the dejected tone that he is shooting for.
With three simple phrases, Miller significantly set up his audience to realize the main point by revealing the tone right off the bat. Next, Miller’s article is packed with persuasive appeal. Using pathos and logos, Miller effectively gets his point across to the reader. Miller uses pathos when he describes people’s hidden motives. “The thing at issue is buried intentions – the secret allegiances of the alienated hearts always the main threat to the theocratic mind, as well as its immemorial quarry”.
This quote from Miller’s article uses the words “alienated hearts” to tug at the heartstrings of the audience. Whenever the word heart is used in writing or a speech, it always hits home with the audience. Alienated hearts describes enemies of the greater good, which uses pathos to strike fear in the audience’s hearts. This sentence by Miller effectively uses the reader’s emotions to get his point across. Miller uses logos to give his article the factual appeal needed to be credible.
When Miller is describing the various events in history that relate to the Red Scare, he writes: “In 1949 Mao Zedong took power in China. ” This historical fact that is used by Miller is only a small example of the many evidences used throughout the article. The use of cold, hard facts by Miller makes it undeniable that Miller has much knowledge about communism and isn’t just some uneducated buffoon. The use of logos in this article helps the audience trust the writer in that he knows what he is writing about, and makes it more likely that the audience will be persuaded by his main point.
These persuasive appeals prove effective in conveying Miller’s purpose to his audience. It is easy to see that Miller is an expert writer in using many strategies to get his main purpose across to his readers. He powerfully manipulates the opinion of his audience by using diction and persuasive appeal. In this article, he used diction to convey the negative tone he needed to set up the audience for his persuasive appeal that communicated his purpose to the audience. He makes his main purpose very clear to the audience, and demonstrates his rhetorical skills with ease.