From review of "The Crucible," in New York Times, February 1, 1953
Although opinions vary about details of the workmanship, Arthur Miller's new play, "The Crucible," has made a deep impression on the town. Put it down as the most notable new play by an American so far this season, for Mr. Miller has an independent mind, professional skill and personal courage. "The Crucible" is the story of the hysterical persecution of people accused of witchcraft in Salem in 1692 when fear paralyzed the judicial faculties of men in authority. Probably Mr. Miller has had to alter some of the details of the record to make a tidy play out of a big historical subject; and he has also made a few remarks in passing that apply specifically to the public intolerance of today. But fundamentally, "The Crucible" is a portrait of the terror and ferocity with which a few Americans, mostly God-fearing men, once accused each other of allegiance to the devil….
Since "The Crucible" is a play about bigotry, it has certain current significance. "Is the accuser always holy now?" John Proctor ironically inquires when the court looks with suspicion on all the evidence that bears on Goodie Proctor's innocence. But Mr. Miller is not delivering a polemic or offering "The Crucible" as a deadly parallel. For the difference between the Salem trial and the current hysteria is a fundamental one. There never were any witches. But there have been spies and traitors in recent days. All the Salem witches were victims of public fear. Beginning with Hiss, some of the people accused of treason and disloyalty today have been guilty.
In "The Crucible" the parallels are minor to the central horror of the witch-hunt in Salem; and they involve the irresponsibility and maliciousness of the accusers, the avidity with which most people accept the accusations as proof of guilt and the bias against anyone who defends the accused people. Obviously, Mr. Miller has these things in mind, for no one can write about bigotry today in a historical vacuum. But they are incidental to the play as a whole, which dramatizes a unique episode in American history long before the time of representative government and the constitutional judicial system….
Out of a dark episode in American history Mr. Miller has written a fiery play.