I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!
The play The Crucible by Arthur Miller is one amazing work, and the film version really did it justice. This play is about the Salem Witch Trials, but is in actuality written to speak out against the Anti-Communist feelings, McCarthyism, the HUAC, blacklisting actors, etc. Miller used real historical figures as the basis for the characters in his play.
The Crucible takes place in Salem, MA in 1692. The film starts off with a bunch of teenage girls partying in the woods with the minister’s (Reverend Samuel Parris) Barbadian slave Tituba. One of the girls is the minister’s daughter Betty and his niece Abigail. Abigail takes the chicken used in the ritual and kills it, afterwards drinking its blood, and wishes for John Proctor‘s wife to die so that she can have him.
Just as Abigail finishes, the minister surprises the girls in the woods and they all run off.
That day Betty won’t wake up, no matter what Abigail does. The other girls are worried and Abigail makes them promise that they will not tell anyone anything, except that they were just dancing in the woods. She knows that they will all get into DEEP, DEEP trouble if anyone finds out what they were doing. Rev. Parris questions Abigail intensely and she continues with the dancing story. Parris asks if her name is unblemished in the community, as he is worried that if their are any marks against her, people will not believe them. There was an issue with her being thrown out of Elizabeth Proctor‘s house, (more on this later), but Abigail insists that the reason she was sent away was because she wasn’t subversive enough.
The Putnams, a powerful family, come over and say that their daughter Ruth won’t wake up either. Goody Putnam has lost all her babies, Ruth having been the only exception, and believes that it must be witchcraft that killed them. They also say they have heard that the girls are bewitched. Rev. Parris is worried at what to do and sends for Rev. Hale, a known witch hunter, to figure out this mess.
John Proctor arrives on the scene, played by the very attractive, the very talented, and one of the best things in this film, actor Daniel Day–Lewis (DDL).
Proctor is a manly man, :D, but has a major tiff with Rev. Parris. (There tensions go way back) He doesn’t think that anything is wrong with girls, but suspects that they are just playing around. As he leaves he is approached by Abigail who was waiting for him outside. Abigail was working in his house and the two had an affair! Gasp! (Although he is so attractive I can’t blame the girl for crushing on him, but she should have respected the fact that he is MARRIED!) HIs wife, Elizabeth, figured that something was up between them and threw her out of her house.
Anyways, Abigail wants them to get back together, but John says no. He is ashamed of what he did and is only about his wife now. However, Abigail is not so ready to let go.
OBSESSED! This girl has psycho-stalker all over it.
Rev. Hale comes to town and under his intense questioning, Abigail decides she is going to have to give him more than “they were dancing in the woods.” She tells him that Tituba bewitched her and the girls, and forced them to do witchcraft. Tituba, freaks out and after she is beaten she confesses that the Devil came to her. She also says that Sarah Good, Goody Osburn, and Bridget Bishop with the devil. Soon all the girls are chanting and adding to the list of who the witches are. Rev. Hale calls for chains so that they can throw the women into prison. This is a pretty, crazy, intense scene.
John Proctor is at his farm and can hardly believe how crazy the witchcraze has gotten. (Miller really makes his point on how quickly a witch hunt can happen and how innocents will get hurt.) He told Elizabeth that Abigail told him it was all joke, but can’t tell everyone else because she said it to him in private. Elizabeth loses all faith in her husband, fearing that the two tried to rekindle their affair.
Mary Warren, their hired girl, comes in and says that they have now 39 people standing trial for witchcraft. She gives Elizabeth a poppet she made at court. John doesn’t want Mary going to the trails anymore and threatens to beat her, but Mary says he should watch out she as she is a valuable asset and just saved Elizabeth from being named a witch.
After Mary goes to bed the two worriedly confer about what this means for Elizabeth. Soon Hale shows up to question their Christian character. He says that Elizabeth has only been mentioned in passing, that he is really there to check on John. He quizzes him on the ten commandments, with Proctor only missing one, “thou shall not commit adultery”.
Proctor reveals that Abigail told him that the witchcraft was all joke. Hale is confused as many have confessed, although if they hadn’t they would have hanged. As Hale ponders this, Francis Nurse and Giles Corey burst in reavealing that their wives, Rebecca and Martha (both good Christian women) were taken. Hale is in shock, as is the Proctors when policeman come to take Elizabeth away. They check Elizabeth’s poppet, given to her by Mary, and find a needle in it. This is proof of witchcraft, as apparently Abigail has been saying that Elizabeth has been tormenting her with her witchy spirit. She was just taken under affliction and a needle found stabbed in her stomach, exactly where it was in the poppet.
After Elizabeth is taken, John loses his temper and convinces Mary to reveal the truth, that everything was a game.
Corey, Nurse, John, & Mary all burst in the court and try and show that it has all been a lie. Putnam had his daughter name people to get land and Abigail was after John. It turns out that Elizabeth won’t hang as she is pregnant, but John won’t let up. Mary turns on him and calls him a devil, the girls all start screaming it too.
John yells out that Abigail is a whore.
John Proctor: It is a whore’s vengeance
Now the game has changed as John reveals all. He tells them how he and Abigail were together and his wife threw her out and Abigail is out revenge. This is a serious charge as no one would announce themself a lecher. The Judge asks whether or not Elizabeth is a truthful person and will reveal that is the reason why she kicked Abigail out. After John and the others convince the Judge of Elizabeth’s character, he decides to bring her in to settle the whole thing. He first has Abigail and John face him, they are not allowed to turn around. He then has Elizabeth come in, and questions whether or not her husband has committed adultery. Elizabeth faces the judge but can’t say that her husband sinned, she loves him too much and doesn’t want to hurt him. John is then called a witch and sentenced to be hanged.
Abigail realizes that even though they sentenced John to keep the court from being a mockery, no one trusts her and all believe her to be a whore. She steals away in the dead of night with all of Rev. Parris’ money.
It is hanging time and the Judges, Hale, & Parris are all hoping to get a confession out of Proctor. Proctor doesn’t want to, but after they bring Elizabeth to him, he wants to be there for the baby. He goes to sign his confession, but won’t say he saw anyone else with the devil. Proctor may be willing to give in and denounce himself, but won’t take anyone down with him, he’s too honest for that. He signs the confession, but takes the paper back. (This scene is really powerful as DDL gives an amazing performance.) The leaders want to nail the confession to the door, but he won’t let them, as he can’t have his sons living in shame. Ultimately he takes back his confession and decides to die an honest man.
Rebecca, Mariah, & John are all hanged as they say the Lord’s Prayer. This is to prove they are not witches, as it was believed that nobody in league with the Devil could recite the prayer.
It is a really powerful film and a must see for anyone. Not only is it historical fiction and a suspense/horror film (Suspror), but the issues expressed in it are not something that can be pinpointed to one time, but constantly crop up through the ages. When something strange is going on, or when one is afraid; often they latch out and try to hunt out “the cause” picking one to be the scapegoat and hold the blame.
Here is a cover page/poster I made for my countdown to Halloween. Enjoy 😀
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Thanks for the mention!