Updated: Dec 21, 2020
Miller altered real events for dramatic effect
Miller made changes to the real events of the Salem witch trials to make sure the story 'worked' as a piece of drama on stage.
For example, he invented the affair between John Proctor and Abigail. This sub-plot makes the play more interesting. The affair also suggests John is flawed, which makes him seem more human.
Miller raised Abigail's age from 11 to 17 and lowered John Proctor's age to make their affair more plausible.
The number of girls making accusations was reduced, so that fewer actors would be needed overall.
The original Salem trials had several judges. Miller simplified the plot by condensing these into two characters - Hathorne and Danforth.
He also accelerated the timeline to increase the pace of the action. In 1692, Martha, Rebecca and John were hanged on separate occasions, but in the play they are all hanged together.
TASK: Read Arthur Miller's 'A Note on the Historical Accuracy of This Play' at the start of your copy of the play. Have a think about why Miller made these changes? How do you think these changes might help a director?
'The Crucible' still appeals to audiences today
The Crucible is one of Miller's most successful plays. The play is still popular in the 21st Century - in 2016, it returned to Broadway in New York for the sixth time. This production starred Saoirse Ronan as Abigail and Ben Whishaw as John.
Although the play is set in the 17th Century, many of its ideas are universal. For example, Miller warns the audience of the dangerous influence that fear and suspicion can have on a person's actions. This message is still relevant today. Can you think of recent examples in the news?
The dramatic features of The Crucible make it entertaining. The storyline is both serious and exciting - people's lives are in danger, and no-one knows who might be accused next.
The plot is fast paced, which keeps the audience gripped. By the end of Act Two, one false rumour has led to the arrest of dozens of villagers, and more than 100 have confessed to witchcraft by the end of Act Four.
There have been many adaptations
The Crucible was performed in America for the first time in 1953 at the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway. Since then, there have been lots of adaptations of the play.
There have been multiple film versions. The most famous starred Daniel-Day Lewis and Winona Ryder in 1996. Miller wrote the screenplay for this version and was closely involved with the film's production.
The play has also been adapted into an opera - it was first performed by the New York City Opera in 1961. Its plot follows Miller's original story, but the language of the play was rewritten by the composer to fit with his music.
In 2014, the Scottish Ballet adapted the play for dance. Its music includes an orchestral sound track and electronic dance pieces. The production was at the Edinburgh festival last year - did anyone see it?