Whether this activity is worthwhile or not really depends on what one wants from the play or movie. I find that many people come across this unusual episode in American history through Miller’s story, and if they want to start learning what «really» happened in 1692, they have a hard time distinguishing historical fact from literary fiction because Miller’s play and characters are so vivid, and he used the names of real people who participated in the historical episode for his characters. This play is not why i want to be a nurse essay in the sense in which the word is used by the academic historian. I have symbolized them all in Hathorne and Danforth.
As for the characters of the persons, little is known about most of them except what may be surmised from a few letters, the trial record, certain broadsides written at the time, and references to their conduct in sources of varying reliability. They may therefore be taken as creations of my own, drawn to the best of my ability in conformity with their known behavior, except as indicated in the commentary I have written for this text. Miller clings to simultaneous claims of creative license and exactitude about the behavior and fate of the real people whose names he used for his characters. This is problematic for anyone who is beginning to take an interest in the historical episode, based on his powerful play. One day, after several hours of reading at the Historical Society I got up to leave and that was when I noticed hanging on a wall several framed etchings of the witchcraft trials, apparently made by an artist who must have witnessed them. There are no extant drawings by witnesses to the events in 1692.
My best guess is that what Miller may have seen was a lithograph — popular framed wall art in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries — from a series produced in 1892 by George H. When the movie was released 1996, Miller published an article in the New Yorker, discussing «Why I Wrote The Crucible», in which he describes, over four decades after writing the play, what he remembered of his process with the material. He began by stating that he had read Salem Witchcraft: «t was not until I read a book published in 1867 — a two-volume, thousand-page study by Charles W. Upham, who was then the mayor of Salem — that I knew I had to write about the period. It was from a report written by the Reverend Samuel Parris, who was one of the chief instigators of the witch-hunt. Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt, No. Miller veered away from the historical record, imagining the backstory of this gesture: «Elizabeth Proctor had been the orphaned Abigail’s mistress, and they had lived together in the same small house until Elizabeth fired the girl.
I doubt I should ever have tempted agony by actually writing a play on the subject had I not come upon a single fact. This is also not historically accurate, beginning with Abigail never having been a maidservant in the Procter howusehold: that was Mary Warren. The real Abigail Williams did cry out against John Procter on April 4, on the same day Elizabeth Procter was formally accused, although he was not included on the arrest warrant issued on April 8. Miller continued to claim that it was a fact. Another example of this fictionalization of this research can be found in Miller’s article «Are You Now Or Were You Ever?
He wrote, «I can’t recall if it was the provincial governor’s nephew or son who, with a college friend, came from Boston to watch the strange proceedings. Miller is, of course, not alone in his personal interpretations about the history of this episode. He was using it to make sense of his own life and times. Popular understandings include many general inaccuracies — for instance, that the witches were burned to death. People condemned as witches in New England were not burned, but hanged, and in the aftermath of the events in Salem, it was generally agreed that none of them had actually been witches at all. Another current understanding of the events had its beginning in 1976, when Linnda P.
Caporael, then a graduate student, published an article in Science magazine positing that the afflicted had suffered from hallucinations from eating moldy rye wheat — ergot poisoning. The story was picked up and published on the front page of the New York Times on March 31, 1976, in the article «Salem Witch Hunts in 1692 Linked to LSD-Like Agent». Parris’ slave woman, Tituba, is persistently portrayed as having been of Black African descent or of mixed racial heritage, despite always being referred to in the primary sources as «an Indian woman». Upham created this presentation of Tituba, known to have been a slave from Barbadoes, after the Civil War, when most slaves from Barbadoes were, in fact, of Black African heritage.
Returning to Miller’s tellings of the tale, I am always distracted by the wide variety of minor historical inaccuracies when I am exposed to his play or movie. Call me picky, but I’m not a dolt: I know about artistic license and Miller’s freedom to use the material any way he choose to, so please don’t bother lecturing me about it. Abigail tells Betty, «Your Mama’s dead and buried! Betty Parris’ mother was not dead and was very much alive in 1692. Parris died four years after the witchcraft trials, on July 14, 1696, at the age of 48. Her gravestone is located in the Wadsworth Cemetery on Summer Street in Danvers, MA. Soon after the legal proceedings began, Betty was shuttled off to live in Salem Town with Stephen Sewall’s family.