Arthur Miller's The Crucible is a truly great American play and is considered a must read by many, but what lots of people forget is that it's not just about witches. Miller's classic play actually touches on two defining moments in American history: the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and the Red Scare of the 1950s. Indeed, Miller wrote the play as an allegory of McCarthyism, so it play offers a great opportunity to create cross-curricular units with both of these historical events.
Of course, even though the play is couched in history, the issues it raises still remain topical—from the literal witch trials that still take place in modern-day Africa to anytime hysteria causes the innocent to be persecuted. We have a feeling that The Crucible is one of those pieces that will (unfortunately) always provide perspective on current events.
Though some of the play's characters are a bit one-dimensional, most remain complex and interesting to a modern audience. Your students will become wrapped up in the noble (yet lecherous) John Proctor and the sincere (yet misguided) Reverend Hale. Even the manipulative Abigail becomes somewhat psychologically complex when we learn of the brutal death of her parents.