"A house without books is like a room without windows." -Horace Mann

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Crucible

by Arthur Miller

I recently watched the movie Goodnight and Good Luck, which is the story of Edward R. Murrow, a television broadcaster who dared to stand up to Senator McCarthy when he was on his anti-Communist crusade.  It reminded me of another time when people were accused of things that could not be proven, and condemned with no real evidence.  Arthur Miller's play The Crucible is a dramatization of the Salem Witch Trials, and one family in particular caught up in the horror and hysteria of it all. 

Many of you may have perhaps performed this play in high school or even watched some sort of video/movie rendition of it, but today I wanted to review it because there is something to be said for reading the play and remembering the power of simple words on a page.  It is not an easy story to read, nor a happy one.  But it is one that reminds me that nothing should ever let us sacrifice truth to the whims of the world. 

The story is focused around John Proctor and his wife, Elizabeth.  John has had a relationship with a younger girl in the town and is racked with guilt.  The girl accuses his wife of being a witch, and the witch hysteria continues to grow and spread throughout the town until many innocent people are tried and sentenced to death.  John Proctor struggles with his guilt, his faith, and his life as he takes his turn in court.  Two of John Proctor's lines are my particular favorites, because they are about the real value of truth and integrity:

"A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For them that quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud—God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!"

"Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!"

May we never let fear conquer truth, and always keep ourselves worthy of our good name.

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