Gossip seems to play a major role in everything from news and politics to hit television dramas. In fact it was an important factor in history, specifically in the Salem witch trials. When The Crucible was written, rumors put a spin on the author’s , Arthur Miller, own life. Gossip and scandals still play into our daily lives, now more than ever, with the media craze.
Ever wonder what fueled the gruesome and unnecessary witch trials in Salem? Well, in The Crucible it all began with girls dancing in the forest and the irrational opinions of what the meant back then. To the people of Salem, at that time, it meant they worked for the devil. The leader of the girls, Abigail, spread rumor to save herself from the gallows. This in return sparked the gossip that led to the death of many innocent people. The unproven accusations made by Abigail intrigued the people of the community, making these trials so popular.
Why was the release of Arthur Miller’s newest play a controversy? In 1953, when the play opened on Broadway, the country was in a panic about the “Red Menace.” The entire population was in shambles with the concern of communists. The gossip of the play and the state of the country at the time caused congress to question Mr. Miller’s view. When the committee chairman didn’t hear what he wanted from Arthur, he charged the playwright with contempt of congress. Does this sound familiar to the courts in Salem? “The search for troublemakers was often labeled a witch hunt, after the notorious Salem witch trials of the late 17th century.” (Early American Writing, 79) The search for communists in the 1950”s was a modern day witch hunt.
What would today be like without the spread of gossip and the never-ending rumor mill turning out new drama? It seems our society today runs off of the latest scandals. In reality, what is the point to spread gossip? All it does is point people’s attention at someone or something else momentarily to cover up one’s own mistakes. In The Crucible, word of the ill child, who was suspected of with craft, spread through the village in a day. Even today, in our always expanding world, it can travel just as fast with our numerous media sources and desire for newest scoop of gossip.
Gossip has been and will most likely continue to play a major role throughout the times. Arthur Miller himself states, “I have had immense confidence in the applicability of the play to almost any time, the reason being it’s dealing with a paranoid situation. But that situation doesn’t depend on any particular political or sociological development. I wrote it blind to the world. The enemy is within, and within stays within, and we can’t get out of within. It’s always on the edge of our minds the behind what we see is a nefarious plot.” (The Demons Of Salem, With Us Still, 81) Which is an extremely true statement, gossip will always be with us. It plays a major role in The Crucible, Arthur Miller’s life, and in our lives today.