“Thus Spoke Proctor”: Nietzsche and the Overman in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
This article analyzes Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (1953) through a Nietzschean critique. In fact, Miller’s play presents a leading character whose individuality and interaction with his community, in terms of theology and politics, demands a re-evaluation of all values, much akin to the way Friedrich Nietzsche famously did in nineteenth-century Europe. To explore the possible connections between the two, first, Nietzsche’s idea about Christianity is discussed in comparison to Proctor’s treatment of religion in the play. Both Nietzsche and Miller deconstruct the self-celebrating fanaticism of their respective communities by their vitriolic attacks on individual moral standards and the introduction of an Übermensch [“Overman”] as a glorious model of human virtues. Therefore, second, this work will demonstrate how Nietzsche’s Übermensch can offer a fitting paradigm to consider Proctor’s rebellion against the established Church. And third, Nietzsche’s concept of eternal recurrence is used to further illuminate Proctor’s view of life.
Keywords: Arthur Miller; The Crucible; Friedrich Nietzsche; Übermensch / Overman; Christianity; eternal recurrence
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