The years 1949 and 1953 mark the beginnings of the two most glorious tragedies playwright Arthur Miller has ever composed. The Crucible tells the story of John Proctor, a man who was wrongly accused of witchcraft, and his struggles to prove his innocence without tarnishing his familys name. Death of a Salesman tells of Willy Loman, an unsuccessful salesman caught up in high hopes for his sons, who both soon become failures as well. In reading these plays, one may find that both The Crucible and Death of a Salesman were intended to criticize the frailties of society and human nature. While the settings and theatrical elements of the two plays may differ, one thing that I found particularly interesting was the amount of similarities between John Proctor and Willy Loman. Since both plays are tragedies, one can expect to find themselves connecting with the main characters to the point of having a sense of pity towards them when the final curtain falls.
The main purpose of both Death of a Salesman and The Crucible was to showcase some major problems within American society. In Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller attempted to show the impossibilities of the American Dream. In The Crucible, he illustrated societys disgruntlement towards others and its proneness to hysteria. Both plays dealt with society ensnaring the average, hard-working and diligent man. They also showed a society that was full of deceit and liars. In both of these plays, society was depicted as a depraved thing that would overpower the average person and create an unjust world.
The settings and theatrical elements in both plays were dissimilar. The Crucible took place during the Salem witch trials that lasted from 1692 to 1693 in Massachusetts. Death of a Salesman was set in 1949 in Brooklyn. Because the settings in these two plays differed, so too did the theatrical elements. Death of a Salesman was more modern, thus the stage had more industrial props. The Crucible was set centuries before Death of a Salesman, thus it had more old fashioned props. Perhaps one of the only similarities between theatrical elements was the lighting. Both plays were tragedies, so the lighting was probably dark to fit the depressing mood. Other than that the two have no similarities in terms of theatrical elements.
The main characters of Death of a Salesman and The Crucible, Willy Loman and John Proctor, are alike in many ways. Both of these men had extramarital affairs, and in both cases, the affairs ended up ruining their lives. Both of these men were hard-working, average men who were trying to make a good life for themselves and their families. Names were important to both men, and they both took pride in their names. In both cases, many decisions the two made were because of their family members. One large similarity between Willy and John was the fact that they both eventually died, and the death was partly by choice. Both men could have avoided death, but instead, they chose to die because they believed it was the correct thing to do.
Both The Crucible and Death of a Salesman are plays that one should mark as a milestone in the life of Arthur Miller. The main purpose of the two plays was to show some of the major problems in American society. While these plays are vastly diverse in the way they were presented to the audience, the characters themselves were similar. They were also similar in the way the main character died. The endings of these plays are so harsh and apathetic, that one may find themselves staring at the last page rereading that last line that brings a cruel ending to a cruel play:
THE CURTAIN FALLS.