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Viewing The Crucible with a Feminist Lens

To be seen and not heard; a quality shared by the inanimate object, and the conventional woman. Society has conformed women into accessories, and therefore, literature has followed suit. Inherent in this ideology, are many base traits attributed to women. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible exploits these traditional feminine characteristics to aid the female character in her role of complimenting the male.

When observing something from an alternate perspective it can take on a whole new meaning. Studying novels from different lenses can seem as if you are reading a different work than the author intended. A feminist lens allows the reader to look past obvious themes in the novel for the implicit or concealed misogyny within. This lens “examines, interprets, and seeks to redress the marginalization of women through a critical response to literature, within the larger context of a male-dominated literary establishment.”(Boswell OL) When examining a work through a feminist lens a variety of components must be taken into account. The main objective is, of course, to analyze the portrayal of women. To do so adequately, however, one must explore gender roles, and therefore look into relations between male and female characters to see if they are equal. (Boswell OL) The purpose of feminist criticism is to reveal the patriarchal dogma of literature.

Arthur Miller’s experiences with women are depicted through their roles in his plays. He is quoted as saying “I like the company of women. Life is boring without them”. This is fitting because he married one of the most interesting women in American history. Marilyn Monroe is a notorious sex symbol because she was objectified during her time as an actress. Her blond hair and pretty face easil…

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…e Crucible, New Edition, Bloom’s guides. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 2010. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 3 May. 2012.

Boswell, Marshall. “Feminist Literary Criticism.” In Boswell, Marshall, and Carl Rollyson, eds. Encyclopedia of American Literature: The Contemporary World, 1946 to the Present, vol. 4, Revised Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2008. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 10 May. 2012.

Marlow, Stuart. “Interrogating The Crucible: Revisiting the Biographical, Historical and Political Sources of Arthur Miller’s Play” In Bloom, Harold, ed. The Crucible, New Edition, Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 2008. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 10 May. 2012.

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin Books,1976.

The Crucible by Director Nicholas Hytner

When Arthur Miller published “The Crucible” in 1953, the play’s audience was a nation of Americans seized in the grip of McCarthyism. The Communist “witch hunt” has long since ended, but the public’s fascination with this shameful piece of American history has not. The original play unfolded over the course of 4 acts that mainly consisted of dialogue. As a result, the creators of the 1996 movie adaptation had an ample degree of creative latitude to update the narrative for a modern audience. Director Nicholas Hytner utilized a host of cinematic techniques that enabled the moving images to tug the heartstrings of the audience just as effectively as the book had done before. Given the temporal limitations of a film, several scenes were rewritten in order to facilitate an easier delineation of the plot line. The director also used different camera techniques to control the pace of the movie, making it easier to tell which parts were important. Overall, Hytner’s scene modifications and unique camera shots resulted in an emotionally compelling film.

The director rearranged the tense discussions that occurred immediately before Reverend Hale’s arrival into different scenes in order to make the conflicts in the movie easier to understand. Otherwise, the audience might become confused about the identities of the characters and the complex web of disagreements among them. The play condensed a heated discussion between the men in the book into a series of arguments right before the Reverend arrived. In the book, Parris, Putnam, Proctor, and Giles were standing in a room discussing general the general discontent in Salem. As Giles put it, “Wherefore is everybody suing everybody? I have been six time in court this year” (p. 37)….

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…wly dropping from the gallows, as the townspeople raised their arms in celebration. Audible drumbeats were played as the bodies went limp, emphasizing the finality of death.

Whenever a written work is adapted into a movie, artistic changes have to be made to create an effective film. The play The Crucible relied heavily on complex dialogue passages and took place in a very small group of settings. Due to time constraints, the movie could not include all of the book’s dialogue and still be entertaining. Thus, the director culled out the most important passages, often separating complex 1 setting scenes in order make the movie easier to understand. The director also used a wide assortment of camera techniques to highlight what portions the director wanted viewers to feel emotional about. Overall, I felt that The Crucible movie adaptation was done well.

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