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By Bernard F. Dukore (auth.)
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Extra info for Death of a Salesman and The Crucible
Echoing her words at the end of Act n, Mary hysterically cries that she cannot. To destroy Abigail's credibility, knowing that he will also destroy himself, Proctor interrupts, calls her a whore and confesses to adultery. To prove his truthfulness, also foreshadowing his concern at the end, he points out that a man will not easily relinquish his good name. Elizabeth, he says, dismissed Abigail from their employ because of adultery. What follows has been variously called one of those 'tricky twists ofplot that Sardou himself might have admired' (Julius Novick, Village Voice, 4 May 1972) and 'no mere trick of melodrama' for it grows 'from a character' (Philip HopeWallace, Manchester Guardian, ll April 1956).
But it is more than Willy perceived' (John Beaufort, Christian Science Monitor, 19 Feb. 1949). Eric Bentley disagreed: the tragedy destroys the social drama, its catharsis reconciling or persuading us to disregard the material conditions against which the social drama protests, and the social drama destroys the tragedy, in that the subject of the little man as victim 34 7 TRAGEDY? arouses pity but no terror, for he is too passive to be a tragic hero (in Hurrell). While Michael Billington does not invoke Aeschylus's Oresteia, he might do so when he argues that 'the weaknesses of one generation are visited upon the next' (Guardian, 2 Sept.
For this play, Miller examined historical documents. He altered some facts, mainly compressing the number of charac- 43 Part One: Text ters (girls, judges, witnesses), making the girls dance naked in the woods (the better to impress a 1953 audience), raising Abigail's age to seventeen (the girls, who in those days might marry at fourteen, were between sixteen and twenty), and inventing the affair between Proctor and Abigail (psychologically plausible for characters and audience). Essentially, though, The Crucible is historically accurate.
Death of a Salesman and The Crucible by Bernard F. Dukore (auth.)