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Comparative Study Crucible & Guilty by Suspicion
ESSAY TASK While the context, lauguage and form have changed, the messages in Guilty By Suspicion are essentially the messages the Arthur Miller communicated to his audiences in the Crucible. Discuss the statement in relation to your understanding of both texts.
Guilty by Suspicion and the Crucible, both expresses the same message of how social hysteria victimises people who strongly stand by their moral beliefs. Though the context, form and language are different, their main aim in allowing audiences to realise the affects of social hysteria is achieved through various film and language techniques.
Guilty by Suspicion illustrates the similar environment in which Arthur Miller wrote the Crucible. His main purpose in writing this play was to express his disgust with the McCarthyism hysteria that was taking during that time of 150s. Although Crucible is set in a different timeframe, based upon the events of witch-hunt that occurred in Salem Massachusetts during 160s, it has strong parallel connection with the events of communist hunting that occurred in America during 150s. Guilty by Suspicion is based on these communist hunting events.
To establish the context of 160s in The Crucible on stage, various objects were used. In the opening scene, A candle still burns near the bed shows that these events were taking place before electricity came. Candlelight creates a mood of mystery and fear on the audience. At the beginning of Act Two , Proctor ...continues on to the fireplace, leans the gun against the wall as he swings a pot out of the fire and smells it. This scene with the fireplace burning and warm food being cooked as well as lullabies being sang creates a warm peaceful mood on the audience and shows the lifestyle of 160s. This is also an anti-climax in the play after the previous hysterical climatic ending of Act I.
To establish the context of 150s in Guilty by Suspicion, various objects of those times were used as well. There were 150s cars on the roads, films that were being edited had 150s icon like Marilyn Monroe in them. Jazz music of those times were being repeated in the background like Im just a lucky so and so. This music was ironical. It was played in the background when David Merrill fortunates were changing from bad to worse. Not when he was becoming a lucky so and so. It allows the audiences to realise the contrast in his life and fortunes from what he was when he was successful and what he was becoming.
Joseph McCarthy is the senate who initiated McCarthysim. He turned his own political crisis into a major social one. After playing a dirty dishonest campaign to gain his Republican seat in the Senate, it became quite obvious that he will lose the next election as the truths about him started coming out. That’s when he came up with his communist hunting idea (from the Korean War happening at that time) and started accusing his opposition democratic party of being communists. Soon his communist investigation began to go beyond politics.
Arthur Miller communicates his message on McCarthyism in the form of a play. The parallel character of McCarthy in The Crucible is Reverend Parris. Like McCarthy, Rev. Parriss personal crisis of losing his position and power in the Salem society turns into a major social witch-hunt hysteria. At the beginning of Act I, when Rev. Parris was conversing with Abigail, it shows that his more worried about his reputation in the society than his daughters sickness. I pray you feel the weight of truth upon you, for now my ministrys at sake, my ministry and perhaps your cousins life. This shows the responders how power-crazied, self-centered he is like McCarthy.
Danforth is another parallel character portraying McCarthy. He is very proud of being a judge and the power that comes with it. He boosts about how seventy-two condemned to hang by that signature? which is his signature. But this proudness is his weakness and makes him ignorant to the reality of Salem that private vengenence is working through these testimony. Even when he sort of realises the truth, he chooses to ignore it because his reputation, power and position is at stake.I cannot pardon these when twelve are already hanged for the same crime. It is not just.
Guilty by Suspicion is a reality film, which shows an era of political injustice. The opening scene shows the absurdity of the whole communist hunting situation. Larry Nolan unwillingly being interrogated by HCUA officials. The whole dimly-sunlit room is full of smoke with few furniture and Larry in the middle being shot from a high angle. His confused and broken, heavily breathing and does what any scared shitless loyal American would have done. The HCUA officials are shot from a low angle showing their authority and how powerful they are. Through this scene, the director communicates her message of how ridiculous McCarthyism was. This interrogation process allows audience to sympathise for Larry and understand how helpless and mentally affected Larry is. The smoke in the room creates a sense of confusion and fruitlessness of the whole situation on the audiences mind.
In The Crucible, peoples accuse each other for private vengeance. Putnam starts accusing his neighbours so that he can get their land. This man is killing his neighbours for their land. On the other hand, Elizabeth was accused so that Abigail can take her place as Proctors wife. She thinks to take my place, John. In Guilty by Suspicion it can be seen that peoples who are thought to be weak and will give in and give more names were targeted. Thats why David Merril was accused. This was shown through juxtapostioning scenes. In one scene his wife comments Maybe everyone thought making movie means more to you than anything else while in the next scene his best buddy comments, I know how much your films mean to you. This is shown to clarify to the audience why he was targeted and that peoples who targeted in McCarthyism was for a purpose.
Both of the texts show how social hysteria victimises people who strongly stand by their moral beliefs. The languages in both texts are colloquial making it easier for responders to relate to. Puns are used in the dialoges to combine many themes of the play together. It gives more than one meaning and appeals to a variety of audiences. Example of one is said by Proctor when he is arrested by Danforth, You are pulling Heaven down and raising up a whore! This statement maybe interpretated in a variety of ways by various responders. One might think it means, you are getting rid of the true divine peoples from the world and helping faithless peoples to take over the society. Another might think, You are moving away from God and towards the Devil. This statement is important as it tells how social hysteria gives rise to faithless people and victimises people with strong moral values. David Merril and Bunny Bexter served jail for not giving in to the authority. John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse were hanged for not confessing which according to them was a lie. All of them were victims of social hysteria. Only because they had strong moral beliefs, they didnt give in and therefore had the suffer injustice of the society and concequences.
Responders receive a dose of reality from the Crucible and the Guilty by Suspision of how powerful can mindless accusations be. The message though terrifying but real, unbelievable yet possible. The Crucible was written in 150s but showed an event of 160s. Guilty by Suspision was directed in 10s but showed an event 150s. The language and form are different. But the message, the central gripping message is still the same. In the end one question remains. What is more important? Life or faith?
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