from the plays of
Arthur Miller

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All My Sons

The Crucible

Category:

Drama

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All My Sons

Copyright © 1947 by Arthur Miller

Act One

Frank:
The trouble with you is, you don’t believe in anything.

Jim:
And your trouble is that you believe in anything.

Topic:

Belief

Keller:
Well, that’s what a war does. I had two sons, now I got one. It changed all the tallies. In my day when you had sons it was an honor. Today a doctor could make a million dollars if he could figure out a way to bring a boy into the world without a trigger finger.

Topic:

War

Chris:
[...] Everything was being destroyed, see, but it seemed to me that one new thing was made. A kind of . . . responsibility. Man for man. You understand me?— To show that, to bring that on to the earth again like some kind of a monument and everyone would feel it standing there, behind him, and it would make a difference to him. And then I came home and it was incredible. I . . . there was no meaning in it here; the whole thing to them was a kind of a—bus accident. I went to work with Dad, and that rat-race again. I felt . . . what you said . . . ashamed somehow. Because nobody was changed at all. It seemed to make suckers out of a lot of guys. I felt wrong to be alive, to open the bank-book, to drive the new car, to see the new refrigerator. I mean you can take those things out of a war, but when you drive that car you’ve got to know that it came out of the love a man can have for a man, you’ve got to be a little better because of that. Otherwise, what you have is really loot, and there’s blood on it.

Act Three

Jim:
Oh, no, he’ll come back. We all come back, Kate. These private little revolutions always die. The compromise is always made. In a peculiar way, Frank is right—every man does have a star. The star is one’s honesty. And you spend your life groping for it, but once it’s out it never lights again. I don’t think he went very far. He probably just wanted to be alone to watch his star go out.

Topic:

Sin

Keller:
[...] if Larry was alive he wouldn’t act like this. He understood the way the world is made. He listened to me. To him the world had a forty-foot front, it ended at the building line. This one, everything bothers him. You make a deal, overcharge two cents, and his hair falls out. He don’t understand money. Too easy, it came too easy.

Topic:

Integrity

Chris:
[...] But I’m like everybody else now. I’m practical now. You made me practical.

Mother:
But you have to be.

Chris:
The cats in that alley are practical, the bums who ran away when we were fighting were practical. Only the dead ones weren’t practical. But now I’m practical, and I spit on myself.

Chris:
Do what? What is there to do? I’ve looked all night for a reason to make him suffer.

Ann:
There’s reason, there’s reason!

Chris:
What? Do I raise the dead when I put him behind bars? Then what’ll I do it for? We used to shoot a man who acted like a dog, but honor was real there, you were protecting something. But here? This is the land of the great big dogs, you don’t love a man here, you eat him! That’s the principle; the only one we live by—it just happened to kill a few people this time, that’s all. The world’s that way, how can I take it out on him? What sense does that make?

Topics:

Justice

Chris:
[...] It’s not enough for him to be sorry. [...]

Mother:
What more can we be!

Chris:
You can be better! Once and for all you can know there’s a universe of people outside and you’re responsible to it, and unless you know that you threw away your son because that’s why he died.

Topic:

Repentance

text checked (see note) Feb 2005

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The Crucible

Copyright © 1952, 1953 by Arthur Miller
Earlier version copyright under the title Those Familiar Spirits

Act One (An Overture)

They believed, in short, that they held in their steady hands the candle that would light the world. We have inherited this belief, and it has helped and hurt us. It helped them with the discipline it gave them.

Topic:

Belief

It is not hard to see how easily many could have been led to believe that the time of confusion had been brought upon them by deep and darkling forces. No hint of such speculation appears on the court record, but social disorder in any age breeds such mystical suspicions, and when, as in Salem, wonders are brought forth from below the social surface, it is too much to expect people to hold back very long from laying on the victims with all the force of their frustrations.

The Salem tragedy, which is about to begin in these pages, developed from a paradox. It is a paradox in whose grip we still live, and there is no prospect yet that we will discover its resolution. Simply, it was this: for good purposes, even high purposes, the people of Salem developed a theocracy, a combine of state and religious power whose function was to keep the community together, and to prevent any kind of disunity that might open it to destruction by material or ideological enemies. It was forged for a necessary purpose and accomplished that purpose. But all organization is and must be grounded on the idea of exclusion and prohibition, just as two objects cannot occupy the same space. Evidently the time came in New England when the repressions of order were heavier than seemed warranted by the dangers against which the order was organized. The witch-hunt was a perverse manifestation of the panic which set in among all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater individual freedom.

These people had no ritual for the washing away of sins. It is another trait we inherited from them, and it has helped to discipline us as well as to breed hypocrisy among us.

Topic:

Hypocrisy

Parris:
There is a party in this church. I am not blind; there is a faction and a party.

Proctor:
Against you?

Putnam:
Against him and all authority!

Proctor:
Why, then I must find it and join it.

Topic:

Authority

When it is recalled that until the Christian era the underworld was never regarded as a hostile area, that all gods were useful and essentially friendly to man despite occasional lapses; when we see the steady and methodical inculcation into humanity of the idea of man’s worthlessness—until redeemed—the necessity of the Devil may become evident as a weapon, a weapon designed and used time and time again in every age to whip men into a surrender to a particular church or church-state.

Our difficulty in believing the —for want of a better word—political inspiration of the Devil is due in great part to the fact that he is called up and damned not only by our social antagonists but by our own side, whatever it may be.

Topic:

The Devil

In the countries of the Communist ideology, all resistance of any import is linked to the totally malign capitalist succubi, and in America any man who is not reactionary in his views is open to the charge of alliance with the Red hell. Political opposition, thereby, is given an inhumane overlay which then justifies the abrogation of all normally applied customs of civilized intercourse. A political policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence. Once such an equation is effectively made, society becomes a congerie of plots and counterplots, and the main role of government changes from that of the arbiter to that of the scourge of God.

The results of this process are no different now from what they ever were, except sometimes in the degree of cruelty inflicted, and not always even in that department. Normally the actions and deeds of a man were all that society felt comfortable in judging. The secret intent of an action was left to the ministers, priests, and rabbis to deal with. When diabolism rises, however, actions are the least important manifests of the true nature of a man.

Topic:

Propaganda

Act Two

Hale:
Nurse, though our hearts break, we cannot flinch; these are new times, sir. There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships.

Compare to:

Revelation

Act Three

Danforth:
The pure in heart need no lawyers.

Topic:

Lawyers

Danforth:
[...] This is a sharp time, now, a precise time—we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world. Now, by God’s grace, the shining sun is up, and them that fear not light will surely praise it.

Topic:

Progress

Hale:
We cannot blink it more. There is a prodigious fear of this court in the country—

Danforth:
Then there is a prodigious guilt in the country. Are you afraid to be questioned here?

Hale:
I may only fear the Lord, sir, but there is fear in the country nevertheless.

Danforth:
Reproach me not with the fear in the country; there is fear in the country because there is a moving plot to topple Christ in the country!

Hale:
But it does not follow that everyone accused is part of it.

Danforth:
No uncorrupted man may fear this court, Mr. Hale! None!

text checked (see note) Feb 2005

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