Salem Trials (1692) in History and in Miller’s The Crucible: Investigating truth claims in historical narratives and drama




historiography, historical truth, representation, witchcraft, drama


Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is, in the first instance, a literary reconstruction of a historical event: the Salem trials that took place in the village of Salem in Essex County, New England (today Danvers, Massachusetts) in 1692. As Miller explains in his autobiography Timebends (1987), and as is clear from his introduction to the play, he not only carried out scholarly research in preparation for writing the play, he also reflected explicitly on how he had used the historical material to reconstruct a story. The central issue in this investigation is the position taken by the play with regard to writing history – historiography – and to the question: what is historical truth? How does the play relate to the issues of representing history and historical truth? To answer these questions, I will, in this research, give an extensive overview of the historical debates about witchcraft in order to situate Miller’s position on this topic. Further, I will position Miller’s work within more general debates about historiography and the historian’s possibilities of rendering a historical ‘truth’.

Author Biography

Aamir Aziz, University of the Punjab

Aamir Aziz (1983) has a PhD in English Literature from LUCAS institute Leiden University, the Netherlands, in 2014. He is currently serving as an Assistant Professor in English at the Institute of English Studies University of the Punjab Lahore Pakistan. His research interests include American Literature, Continental European Literature, Cultural Studies, and Modern Critical Theory.


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How to Cite

Aziz, A. (2022). Salem Trials (1692) in History and in Miller’s The Crucible: Investigating truth claims in historical narratives and drama. Baltic Journal of English Language, Literature and Culture, 12, 4–19.