Arthur Miller was one of the leading American playwrights of the twentieth century. He was born in October 1915 in New York City to a women’s clothing manufacturer, who lost everything in the economic collapse of the 1930s. Living through young adulthood during the Great Depression, Miller was shaped by the poverty that surrounded him. The Depression demonstrated to the playwright the fragility and vulnerability of human existence in the modern era. After graduating from high school, Miller worked in a warehouse so that he could earn enough money to attend the University of Michigan, where he began to write plays.
Miller followed Death of a Salesman with his most politically significant work, The Crucible (1953), a tale of the Salem witch trials that contains obvious analogies to the McCarthy anti-Communist hearings in 1950s America. The highly controversial nature of the politics of The Crucible, which lauds those who refuse to name names, led to the play’s mixed response. In later years, however, it has become one of the most studied and performed plays of American theater.
Three years after The Crucible, in 1956, Miller found himself persecuted by the very force that he warned against, when he was called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Miller refused to name people he allegedly saw at a Communist writers’ meeting a decade before, and he was convicted of contempt. He later won an appeal.
The Crucible was written by Arthur Miller. It was enacted first in 1953.