by Amanda Alley, dramaturg

If you were able to attend The Crucible, you may have noticed the judge’s table and the church door displayed outside the Margetts Theatre.

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You may have even taken the time to confess to witchcraft, or accuse a friend of such misdeeds.

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We had several accusations and confessions that aluded to magical literature:

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Brother accused sister, student accused teacher, husband accused wife. There were even references to other shows produced at BYU this season:

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What I noticed most of all was how willing our audiences members were to accuse their friends of witchcraft. Overall, there were more accusations posted on the church doors than there were confessions. Of course this was all in sport, but I couldn’t help but see the connection to the historical context of The Crucible.

The Salem witch trials presented a way to exact revenge on those who felt they had been wronged by a family member, friend, or neighbor. Thomas Putnam alone assisted in creating 122 depositions. In order to divert the gaze of the church and the government, some Salem villagers acted as witnesses and placed blame elsewhere. They hid behind their accusations.

The testimonies we saw on the church door were also connected to BYU’s production of The Crucible. The characters in this specific production wore masks to hide their true selves – a device meant to expose the hypocricy found in religion. Those who kept their masks on for the entire production never had to fear the wrath of punishment – the girls who testified in court and the magistrates who sat in judgement were safe as long as they hid their true identity and focused on the sins of others.

Could it be that, though much less severe, the accusations placed on the church door in the lobby were masks in their own way? Rather than expose themselves, did audience members prefer to accuse friends, family, or even familiar characters from their favorite novels? If you were among those who testified, what was your reasoning behind your accusation?

2 thoughts on “The Masks We Wear

  1. The idea of using masks to hide one’s true identity is not uncommon, but the way in which you believe masks show themselves is fascinating. I never knew the extent of the Salem Witch Trials before reading your explanation or fully realized the reasoning behind them. It seems hard to believe that someone would take part in killing innocent people so that they could live. Of course, many questions arise with the idea of using masks to hide your own faults. Are the people we surround ourselves with so eager to place blame on us rather than face their own problems or crimes? To avoid hypocrisy, should we remove our “mask” or would it be better to leave it on? Additionally, “The Crucible” is a renowned piece of work for its parallels to McCarthyism, an anti-communist movement in the U.S. that turned neighbor against neighbor. In fact, I see parallels between “The Crucible” and the current news! If the idea of masks being used to deflect blame and exact revenge is correct, how many masks are being worn today and how can they be torn off?

  2. I read The Crucible in 11th grade English class and I absolutely hated it. But now as I look at the overall concept I find it so interesting. I guess I never really realized how selfish humans are, it’s in our human nature to push the blame on someone else so that we don’t look guilty even if the person we’re throwing under the bus is someone close to us. Reading this article really makes me wonder if it’s better to leave our masks on and hide our true selves or if its better to embrace who we are even if there are consequences.

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