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The Crucible remains a staple of high school English because it is rich in themes that are consistently relevant to human beings regardless of time period. But these themes aren't always easy to explain or dissect in the context of the play, and they can be even harder to develop into essays. Read on for an overview of what a theme is, a list of important themes in The Crucible with specific act-by-act details, and a summary of how to use this information in your essays and other assignments.  

What’s a Theme? Why Are Themes Important?

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of how  The Crucible  themes are expressed, let's do a quick overview of what themes are and why they matter. A theme is a central topic that is addressed by a work of literature. Themes can be expressed in many different ways. In the case of a play like The Crucible , themes are revealed mainly through the dialogue of the characters. They're also revealed though events in the plot. 

Themes tell us what the purpose of the work is. What is the writer attempting to convey to the viewer? The Crucible 's themes have lent the play artistic longevity because they're more or less universal to the human experience across time.  If you hope to write an awesome essay on  The Crucible , you should have extensive knowledge of its themes. If you can show that you understand the themes of a work of literature, you've clearly mastered the material on a deeper level.  In the next few sections, I'll take a look at a group of broad themes in  The Crucible , including irony, hysteria, reputation, and power.

Theme 1: Irony

First off, what is irony? Many people are under the impression that irony is just when something happens that you don't expect (or that you really hoped wouldn't happen). In reality, true irony only happens when a situation is the exact opposite of what you would expect.  The classic example of an incorrect use of irony is in Alanis Morisette's song "Ironic" when she says that "rain on your wedding day" is an example of irony. Well, it's not. Sure, you don't expect or want rain, but it's not the polar opposite of getting married. A real example of irony would be if two married guests got into a fight about going to your wedding that ended in their divorce.

Irony abounds throughout The Crucible  as  characters who believe they are combating the Devil’s handiwork actually perform it themselves.   The ruthlessness with which the suspected witches are treated is aimed at purifying Salem, but it achieves the opposite outcome. The town slips further and further into chaos and paranoia until it reaches a point of total devastation.  As Reverend Hale says to Danforth, “Excellency, there are orphans wandering from house to house; abandoned cattle bellow on the highroads, the stink of rotting crops hangs everywhere, and no man knows when the harlots’ cry will end his life - and you wonder yet if rebellion’s spoke?” (Act 4, pg. 121).

The court's attempts to preserve Puritan morality by arresting and executing accused witches ironically lead to the removal of the most virtuous people from society. These people are the only ones who refuse to throw out false accusations or lie about involvement in witchcraft, so they find themselves condemned (this is the fate of Rebecca Nurse). This means that much of the population that remains is comprised of the power-hungry, the selfish, and the cowardly. 

There are several ironies in Act 1 that center around Abigail Williams. In her conversation with John, Abigail claims that he helped her realize all the lies she was told by two-faced people in Salem who only publicly adhere to the conventions of respectable society (pg. 22).  The irony is that, in the face of John’s rejection, Abigail turns around and creates her own lies soon after that give her increased control over the society she resents.  She puts on a fake front to get what she wants, ultimately creating a persona that’s even worse than that of the hypocrites she criticizes.   Abigail’s many deceptions are sometimes laughably ironic as she chastises others for lying even as she is spinning falsehoods.  In this act, she yells “Don’t lie!” at Tituba immediately before she tells some of the most damning lies of the play accusing Tituba of witchcraft (“ She comes to me while I sleep; she’s always making me dream corruptions!” pg. 41).

Hale also makes some unintentionally ironic statements in Act 1 when he begins his investigation.  He claims that they must not jump to conclusions based on superstition in their investigation of Betty’s affliction.  Hale is convinced that a scientific inquiry based only on facts and reality can be conducted to detect a supernatural presence. This is ironic because   searching for "the Devil's marks" as the potential cause of an ailment is inherently superstitious.

Once the accusations begin, Parris initiates an ironic thought process that persists throughout The Crucible: “You will confess yourself or I will take you out and whip you to your death, Tituba!” (pg. 42).  This “confess or die” mindset is one of the central ironies of the play.  The whole purpose of a trial is to hear both sides of the story before a verdict is reached.  In telling people they must confess to their crimes or be hanged, the officials show that they have already decided the person is guilty no matter what evidence is provided in their defense.

In Act 2, John Proctor’s guilt over his affair with Abigail is demonstrated through an ironic exchange with Reverend Hale. When Hale asks him to recite his commandments, the only one he forgets is adultery.  This is also the commandment that he has violated most explicitly , so you’d think it would be the first one to spring to mind.  The fact that he forgets only this commandment shows that he is trying extremely hard to repress his guilt.

This act also sees the irony of Hale discussing the “powers of the dark” that are attacking Salem (pg. 61).  This is irony of the same type that I discussed in the overview of this theme.  Hale doesn’t realize that his own fears and suspicions are the real powers of the dark.   Salem is under attack from the hysteria that is encouraged by the same people who seek to keep imaginary supernatural demons at bay.

In Act 3, Hale continues to make ironic statements about the existence of concrete proof for the accusations of witchcraft.  While touting his holy credentials, he claims that he “dare not take a life without there be a proof so immaculate no slightest qualm of my conscience may doubt it” (pg. 91).  This “immaculate proof” that has led him to sign numerous death warrants is nothing but the fabrications of teenage girls and other townspeople seeking petty revenge.  These types of statements made by Hale earlier in the play become even more ironic in Act 4 when he realizes he made a horrible mistake by trusting the “evidence” that was presented to him.

Abigail’s presence is always rife with irony in The Crucible , as she constantly chastises others for sins she herself has committed.  When she is brought in for questioning and claims to see Mary’s familiar spirit, she says “Envy is a deadly sin, Mary.” Abigail herself has acted out of envy for the entire play.  Her jealousy of Elizabeth Proctor’s position as John’s wife has led her to attempted murder, first by the charm in the woods and now by accusing Elizabeth of witchcraft. 

Elizabeth is a victim of cruel irony in this Act when she is summoned to testify on the reasons why she dismissed Abigail from her household.  John has already confessed that the affair was the reason for Abigail’s dismissal.  John tells the judge to summon Elizabeth to back him up because he knows she always tells the truth.  Ironically, though she is normally honest to a fault, in this situation Elizabeth decides to lie to preserve John’s reputation, not knowing he has already confessed.  This well-intentioned mistake seals both of their fates. 

Act 4 is Danforth’s turn to shine in the irony department.  He is appalled by Elizabeth’s lack of emotion when he asks her to help the court get a confession out of her husband (pg. 123).  This attitude comes from a man who has shown no remorse for condemning people to death throughout the play.  He refers to John’s refusal to confess as “a calamity,” looking past his own involvement in the larger calamity of the conviction that led John to this point.   

Later in Act 4, Danforth becomes angry at the implication that John’s confession may not be the truth. He insists,  “I am not empowered to trade your life for a lie” (pg. 130). Of course, we know that Danforth has been trading people’s lives for lies this whole time.  He has sentenced people to death based on lies about their dealings in black magic, and he has accepted other false confessions from those who would rather lie than be executed.  To Danforth, anything that doesn’t confirm that he was right all along is a lie. 

Discussion Questions

Here are a few questions related to this theme that you can use to test your grasp of irony and its significance as a theme in The Crucible : 


Theme 2: Hysteria

The thematic significance of hysteria builds quickly as accusations of witchcraft proliferate throughout Salem.  The power of collective hysteria ultimately becomes insurmountable because it grows larger than the influence of the few rational voices in the community. The seeds are planted in Act 1, when Abigail is questioned about her activities in the woods and ends up accusing Tituba of witchcraft to avoid punishment.  The town, already primed with rumors of black magic, is quickly willing to accept that the first few women who are accused are involved in black magic because they’re beggars and slaves.  No one considers that the accusers are lying, partially because they’re seen as innocent children and partially because many “witches” confess to avoid the death penalty.

Armed with the false proof of these coerced confessions, the court officials aggressively persecute anyone who is accused.  Hysteria blinds the people of Salem to reason as they become convinced that there is a grand Satanic plot brewing in town, and they must not hesitate to condemn anyone who could be involved.   This is a lesson in how fear can twist perceptions of reality even for those who consider themselves reasonable under normal circumstances.   

Even before Abigail makes accusations, rumors of witchcraft have morphed into accepted truths in the minds of the more superstitious members of the community.   Ann Putnam jumps at any opportunity to blame supernatural forces for the deaths of her children.  Ann’s extreme conclusions are gradually accepted because rational people are too afraid to challenge the consensus and risk bringing accusations upon themselves.  Hale’s involvement is taken to mean that there must be a supernatural element to Betty’s illness.  Rational explanations are ground up by the drama of the rumor mill, and people see only what they want to see (whatever keeps them in the good graces of society and  makes them feel the best about themselves ) in situations that don't appear to have easy explanations.

The madness begins in earnest with Abigail’s claim that Tituba and Ruth were conjuring spirits in the woods.  Parris is extremely dismayed by this revelation because of the damage it will do to his reputation.  Thomas Putnam tells him to “Wait for no one to charge you - declare it yourself.”  Parris must rush to be the first accuser so he can place himself beyond reproach. It's a toxic strategy that causes panic to spread quickly and fear for one’s life to take the place of rationality.  Tituba is pressured to confess and name the names of other “witches” to avoid execution, which leads to Abigail and Betty’s accusations, now validated by a coerced confession.  This vicious cycle continues to claim the lives of more and more people as the play progresses.

By Act 2, there are nearly 40 people in jail accused of witchcraft.  Many people confess when threatened with execution, and this only heightens the paranoid atmosphere.  The authorities ignore any inconvenient logical objections to the proceedings because they, too, are swept up in the madness. The hysterical atmosphere and the dramatic performances of some of the accusers cause people to believe they have seen genuine proof of witchcraft.  Each new false confession is thrown onto the pile of “evidence” of a grand Satanic plot, and as the pile grows larger, the hysteria surrounding it is fed generously.

This hysteria-based “evidence” of witchcraft includes the discovery of the poppet in the Proctor household with a needle in it.  Elizabeth's side of the story is disregarded because Abigail’s testimony is far more dramatic.  "She sat to dinner in Reverend Parris's house tonight, and without word nor warnin' she falls to the floor. Like a struck beast, he says, and screamed a scream that a bull would weep to hear. And he goes to save her, and, stuck two inches in the flesh of her belly, he draw a needle out." (Cheever pg. 71). The idea that a witch's familiar spirit is capable of stabbing people is too scary for the superstitious and now hysterical people of Salem to give Elizabeth the benefit of the doubt. No one even considers Mary's statement about sticking the needle in herself. In this environment, whoever yells the loudest seems to get the most credibility.

The depths of the hysteria that has gripped Salem are revealed in Act 3 when John finally confronts the court. Danforth makes a shocking argument defending the way the trials have been conducted, insisting that only the victim’s testimony can serve as reliable evidence in this type of trial.   He is completely oblivious to the fact that the “victims” might be lying.  The court refuses to challenge anyone who claims to have been afflicted. 

When the petition testifying to the good character of the accused women is presented, the reaction from Danforth, Hathorne, and Parris is to arrest the people who signed it rather than considering that this might indicate that the women are innocent.   Danforth is convinced that “there is a moving plot to topple Christ in the country!” and anyone who doubts the decisions of the court is potentially involved.  They so fear the devilish consequences of challenging the accusers that they’re willing to take them at their word and ignore any defenses the accused have to offer.  Nowhere is there any consideration of ulterior motives.  

The power of mass hysteria is further revealed when Mary is unable to faint outside of a charged courtroom environment.  She believed she had seen spirits earlier because she was caught up in the delusions of those around her.  Abigail distracts the judges from any rational investigation in this act by playing into this hysteria.  Danforth, who has the most authority, is also the most sold on her act, and it only takes a few screams to persuade him that he’s in the presence of witchcraft.  This leads to Mary’s hysterical accusation of Proctor after she finds herself targeted by the other girls and about to be consumed by the hysteria herself if she doesn’t contribute to it. 

Danforth continues to demonstrate the effects of hysteria in act 4 even after things have died down a bit in Salem and there have been rumblings of discontent about the court’s actions.  As John gives his confession, Danforth says to Rebecca Nurse “Now, woman, you surely see it profit nothin’ to keep this conspiracy any further. Will you confess yourself with him?” (pg. 129)  He is still convinced that all the prisoners are guilty and is determined to force them to admit their guilt. 

Danforth also becomes frustrated with Proctor when he won’t name names in his confession : “Mr. Proctor, a score of people have already testified they saw [Rebecca Nurse] with the Devil” (pg. 130).  Danforth insists that John must know more about the Devil's dealings than he has revealed.  Though Rebecca Nurse's involvement has already been corroborated by other confessors, Danforth demands to hear it from John to confirm that John is fully committed to renouncing his supposed ties to Satan.

Here are a few questions about hysteria to consider now that you've read a summary of how this theme was expressed throughout the plot of the play:


Theme 3: Reputation

Concern for reputation is a theme that looms large over most of the events in The Crucible.  Though actions are often motivated by fear and desires for power and revenge, they are also propped up by underlying worries about how a loss of reputation will negatively affect characters' lives.   John’s concern for his reputation is strong throughout the play, and his hesitation to reveal Abigail’s true nature is a product of his own fears of being labeled an adulterer. 

Once there have been enough convictions, the reputations of the judges also become factors. They are extremely biased towards believing they have made the correct sentencing decisions in court thus far, so they are reluctant to accept new evidence that may prove them wrong.  The importance placed on reputation helps perpetuate hysteria because it leads to inaction, inflexibility, and, in many cases, active sabotage of the reputations of others for selfish purposes. The overall message is that when a person's actions are driven by desires to preserve favorable public opinion rather than do the morally right thing, there can be extremely dire consequences.

Reverend Parris' concerns about his reputation are immediately evident in Act 1. Parris initially insists that there are “no unnatural causes” for Betty’s illness because he fears that he will lose favor with the townspeople if witchcraft is discovered under his roof.  He questions Abigail aggressively because he’s worried his enemies will learn the full story of what happened in the woods first and use it to discredit him.  Parris is very quick to position himself on the side of the accusers as soon as Abigail throws the first punch, and he immediately threatens violence on Tituba if she doesn't confess (pg. 42).  He appears to have no governing system of morality. His only goal is to get on the good side of the community as a whole, even in the midst of this bout of collective hysteria.  

Abigail also shows concern for her reputation.  She is enraged when Parris questions her suspicious dismissal from the Proctor household.  Abigail insists that she did nothing to deserve it and tries to put all the blame on Elizabeth Proctor.  She says, "My name is good in the village! I will not have it said my name is soiled! Goody Proctor is a gossiping liar!" (pg. 12) The fi rst act of The Crucible  clearly establishes the fact that a bad reputation can damage a person’s position in this society severely and irreparably.

In this act, we learn more details about the accused that paint a clearer picture of the influence of reputation and social standing on the patterns of accusations.  Goody Good, an old beggar woman, is one of the first to be named a witch. I t’s easy for more respectable citizens to accept that she’s in league with the Devil because she is an "other" in Salem, just like Tituba.   When Abigail accuses Elizabeth, a respected farmer’s wife, it shows that she is willing to take big risks to remove Elizabeth from the picture.  She’s not a traditionally accepted target like the others (except in her susceptibility as a woman to the misogyny that runs rampant in the play).

In Act 2, the value of reputation in Salem starts to butt heads with the power of hysteria and fear to sway people’s opinions (and vengeance to dictate their actions).  Rebecca Nurse, a woman whose character was previously thought to be unimpeachable, is accused and arrested.  This is taken as evidence that things are really getting out of control ("if Rebecca Nurse be tainted, then nothing's left to stop the whole green world from burning." Hale pg. 67).  People in power continue to believe the accusers out of fear for their own safety, taking the hysteria to a point where no one is above condemnation.

At the end this act, John Proctor delivers a short monologue anticipating the imminent loss of the disguises of propriety worn by himself and other members of the Salem community.  The faces that people present to the public are designed to garner respect in the community, but the witch trials have thrown this system into disarray.   Proctor’s good reputation is almost a burden for him at this point because he knows that he doesn’t deserve it. In a way,   John welcomes the loss of his reputation because he feels so guilty about the disconnect between how he is perceived by others and the sins he has committed. 

John Proctor sabotages his own reputation in Act 3 after realizing it's the only way he can discredit Abigail.  This is a decision with dire consequences in a town where reputation is so important, a fact that contributes to the misunderstanding that follows.  Elizabeth doesn’t realize that John is willing to sacrifice his reputation to save her life.   She continues to act under the assumption that his reputation is of the utmost importance to him, and she does not reveal the affair. This lie essentially condemns both of them.    

Danforth also acts out of concern for his reputations here. He  references the many sentencing decisions he has already made in the trials of the accused. If Danforth accepts Mary’s testimony, it would mean that he wrongly convicted numerous people already. This fact could destroy his credibility , so he is biased towards continuing to trust Abigail.  Danforth has extensive pride in his intelligence and perceptiveness. This makes him particularly averse to accepting that he's been fooled by a teenage girl. 

Though hysteria overpowered the reputations of the accused in the past two acts, in act 4 the sticking power of their original reputations becomes apparent.  John and Rebecca’s solid reputations lead to pushback against their executions even though people were too scared to stand up for them in the midst of the trials.   Parris begs Danforth to postpone their hangings because he fears for his life if the executions proceed as planned.  He says, “I would to God it were not so, Excellency, but these people have great weight yet in the town” (pg. 118).

However, this runs up against Danforth’s desire to preserve his reputation as a strong judge.  He believes that “Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now. While I speak God’s law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering” (pg. 119).  Danforth’s image is extremely valuable to him, and he refuses to allow Parris’ concerns to disrupt his belief in the validity of his decisions.

In the final events of Act 4, John Proctor has a tough choice to make between losing his dignity and losing his life. The price he has to pay in reputation to save his own life is ultimately too high.  He chooses to die instead of providing a false confession because he doesn’t think life will be worth living after he is so disgraced. As he says,  “How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” (pg. 133)

Here are a few discussion questions to consider after you've read my summary of how the theme of reputation motivates characters and plot developments in The Crucible :


Theme #4: Power and Authority

The desire to preserve and gain power pervades  The Crucible as the witch trials lead to dramatic changes in which characters hold the greatest control over the course of events.  Abigail’s power skyrockets as the hysteria grows more severe.  Where before she was just an orphaned teenager, now, in the midst of the trials, she becomes the main witness to the inner workings of a Satanic plot.  She has the power to utterly destroy people’s lives with a single accusation because she is seen as a victim and a savior.

The main pillars of traditional power are represented by the law and the church.  These two institutions fuse together in The Crucible to actively encourage accusers and discourage rational explanations of events. The girls are essentially given permission by authority figures to continue their act because they are made to feel special and important for their participation.  The people in charge are so eager to hold onto their power that if anyone disagrees with them in the way the trials are conducted, it is taken as a personal affront and challenge to their authority. Danforth, Hathorne, and Parris become even more rigid in their views when they feel they are under attack.  

As mentioned in the overview, religion holds significant power over the people of Salem.  Reverend Parris is in a position of power as the town's spiritual leader, but he is insecure about his authority.   He believes there is a group of people in town determined to remove him from this position, and he will say and do whatever it takes to retain control.   This causes problems down the line as Parris allows his paranoia about losing his position to translate into enthusiasm for the witch hunt. 

Abigail, on the other hand, faces an uphill battle towards more power over her situation.  She is clearly outspoken and dominant, but her initial position in society is one of very little influence and authority.  One path to higher standing and greater control would be in becoming John Proctor’s wife.  When she can’t get John to abandon Elizabeth for her, she decides to take matters into her own hands and gain control through manipulating the fears of others. 

Abigail accuses Tituba first because Tituba is the one person below her on the ladder of power, so she makes an easy scapegoat. If Tituba was permitted to explain what really happened, the ensuing tragedy might have been prevented.  No one will listen to Tituba until she agrees to confirm the version of events that the people in traditional positions of authority have already decided is true, a pattern which continues throughout the play.   Tituba is forced to accept her role as a pawn for those with greater authority and a stepping stone for Abigail’s ascent to power.

By Act 2, there have been notable changes in the power structure in Salem as a result of the ongoing trials.  Mary Warren’s sense of self-importance has increased as a result of the perceived value of her participation in court.   Elizabeth notes that Mary's demeanor is now like that of “the daughter of a prince” (pg. 50).  This new power is exciting and very dangerous because it encourages the girls to make additional accusations in order to preserve their value in the eyes of the court. 

Abigail, in particular, has quickly risen from a nobody to one of the most influential people in Salem.  Abigail’s low status and perceived innocence under normal circumstances allow her to claim even greater power in her current situation.  No one thinks a teenage orphan girl is capable of such extensive deception (or delusion), so she is consistently trusted.  In one of the most well-known quotes in the play, John Proctor angrily insists that “the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom” (pg. 73), meaning the girls are testing out the extent of the chaos they can create with their newfound power.

In Act 3, Abigail’s power in the courthouse is on display.  She openly threatens Danforth for even entertaining Mary and John's accusations of fraud against her. Though Danforth is the most powerful official figure in court, Abigail manipulates him easily with her performance as a victim of witchcraft. He's already accepted her testimony as evidence, so he is happy for any excuse to believe her over John and Mary. John finally comes to the realization that Mary's truthful testimony cannot compete with the hysteria that has taken hold of the court.  The petition he presents to Danforth is used as a weapon against the signers rather than a proof of the innocence of Elizabeth, Martha, and Rebecca. Abigail's version of events is held to be true even after John confesses to their affair in a final effort to discredit her.  Logic has no power to combat paranoia and superstition even when the claims of the girls are clearly fraudulent.  John Proctor surrenders his agency at the end of Act 3 in despair at the determination of the court to pursue the accusations of witchcraft and ignore all evidence of their falsehood.

By Act 4, many of the power structures that were firmly in place earlier in the play have disintegrated.  Reverend Parris has fallen from his position of authority as a result of the outcomes of the trials.   He is weak and vulnerable after Abigail's theft of his life's savings, and he’s even facing death threats from the townspeople as a result of John and Rebecca's imminent executions.  In Act 1 he jumped on board with the hysteria to preserve his power, but he ended up losing what little authority he had in the first place (and, according to Miller's afterward, was voted out of office soon after the end of the play). 

The prisoners have lost all faith in earthly authority figures and look towards the judgment of God.  The only power they have left is in refusing to confess and preserving their integrity. I n steadfastly refusing to confess, Rebecca Nurse holds onto a great deal of power.   The judges cannot force her to commit herself to a lie, and her martyrdom severely damages their legitimacy and favor amongst the townspeople.

Here are some discussion questions to consider after reading about the thematic role of the concepts of power and authority in the events of the play:


A Quick Look at Some Other The Crucible  Themes 

These are themes that could be considered subsets of the topics detailed in the previous sections, but there's also room to discuss them as topics in their own right. I'll give a short summary of how each plays a role in the events of The Crucible .

The theme of guilt is one that is deeply relevant to John Proctor's character development throughout the play. John feels incredibly ashamed of his affair with Abigail, so he tries to bury it and pretend it never happened. His guilt leads to great tension in interactions with Elizabeth because he projects his feelings onto her, accusing her of being judgmental and dwelling on his mistakes. In reality, he is constantly judging himself, and this leads to outbursts of anger against others who remind him of what he did (he already feels guilty enough!). Hale also contends with his guilt in act 4 for his role in condemning the accused witches , who he now believes are innocent.

There's a message here about the choices we have in dealing with guilt. John attempts to crush his guilt instead of facing it, which only ends up making it an even more destructive factor in his life. Hale tries to combat his guilt by persuading the prisoners to confess, refusing to accept that the damage has already been done. Both Hale and Proctor don't want to live with the consequences of their mistakes, so they try to ignore or undo their past actions. 

Misogyny and Portrayal of Women 

Miller's portrayal of women in The Crucible is a much-discussed topic. The attitudes towards women in the 1950s, when the play was written, are evident in the roles they're given. The most substantial female character is Abigail, who is portrayed as a devious and highly sexualized young woman. She is cast as a villain. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, we have Rebecca Nurse. She is a sensible, saintly old woman who chooses to martyr herself rather than lie and confess to witchcraft. The other two main female characters, Elizabeth and Mary Warren, are somewhat bland. Elizabeth is defined by her relationship to John, and Mary is pushed around by other characters (mostly men) throughout the play. The Crucible presents a view of women that essentially reduces them to caricatures of human beings that are defined by their roles as mothers, wives, and servants to men . Abigail, the one character who breaks from this mold slightly, is portrayed extremely unsympathetically despite the fact that the power dynamic between her and John makes him far more culpable in their illicit relationship.   

Deception is a major driving force in  The Crucible . This includes not only accusatory lies about the involvement of others in witchcraft but also the lies that people consistently tell about their own virtuousness and purity in such a repressive society. The turmoil in Salem is propelled forward by desires for revenge and power that have been simmering beneath the town's placid exterior.  There is a culture of keeping up appearances already in place, which makes it natural for people to lie about witnessing their neighbors partaking in Satanic rituals when the opportunity arises (especially if it means insulating themselves from similar accusations and even achieving personal gain). The Crucible provides an example of how convenient lies can build on one another to create a universally accepted truth even in the absence of any real evidence. 


How to Write About  The Crucible  Themes

It's one thing to understand the major themes in The Crucible , and it's another thing completely to write about them yourself. Essay prompts will ask about these themes in a variety of different ways. Some will be very direct. An example would be something like:

" How are themes like hysteria, hunger for power, reputation, or any of a number of others functional in the drama? Choose a single character and discuss how this person embodies one of the themes. How is Miller’s underlying message revealed in one of these themes and through the character?"  

In a case like this, you'd be writing directly about a specific theme in connection to one of the characters. Essay questions that ask about themes in this straightforward way can be tricky because there's a temptation to speak in vague terms about the theme's significance. Always include specific details, including direct quotes, to support your argument about how the theme is expressed in the play.  

Other essay questions may not ask you directly about the themes listed in this article, but that doesn't mean that the themes are irrelevant to your writing. Here's another example of a potential essay question for The Crucible that's less explicit in its request for you to discuss themes of the play:  

" Most of the main characters in the play have personal flaws and either contribute to or end up in tragedy. Explain who you believe is the central tragic character in the play. What are their strengths and personal flaws? How does the central tragic character change throughout the play, and how does this relate to the play's title? How do outside forces contribute to the character's flaws and eventual downfall?"  

In this case, you're asked to discuss the concept of a tragic character, explaining who fits that mold in The Crucible and why. There are numerous connections between the flaws of individual characters and the overarching themes of the play that could be brought into this discussion. This is especially true with the reputation and hysteria themes. If you argued that John Proctor was the central tragic character, you could say that his flaws were an excessive concern for his reputation and overconfidence in the power of reason to overcome hysteria. Both flaws led him to delay telling the truth about Abigail's fraudulent claims and their previous relationship, thus dooming himself and many others to death or imprisonment. Even with prompts that ask you to discuss a specific character or plot point, you can find ways to connect your answer to major themes. These connections will bolster your responses by positioning them in relation to the most important concepts discussed throughout the play.    

What's Next? 

Now that you've read about the most important themes in The Crucible , check out our  list of every single character in the play , including brief analyses of their relationships and motivations. 

You can also read my full summary of The Crucible here for a review of exactly what happens in the plot in each act.

The Crucible is commonly viewed as an allegorical representation of the communist "witch hunts" conducted in the 1950s. Take a look at this article for details on the history and thematic parallels behind this connection . 

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Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.

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A+ Student Essay: The Role of Sex & Sexual Repression in the Play

Part of the enduring appeal of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible lies in its resonance with various contemporary events. While the play is certainly a critique of the McCarthy era, it can also be read as a commentary on anti-feminism, fascism, or any number of other repressive movements. Miller’s play remains so broadly applicable in part because he avoids attributing the Salemites’ hysteria to any one specific cause. He does not simply ascribe the witch hunt mania to religious conviction, groupthink, or longstanding feuds. Rather, he suggests that a number of complex causes led to the deaths of innocent people, and that sexual repression was one such cause.

Abigail’s inability to express her sexuality openly is one of the key instigators of the witch hunt. In puritanical 1690 s Massachusetts, Abigail’s brand of passionate sexuality can find no appropriate outlet. Her nature demands that she be a voracious lover, but her circumstances forbid it. When she falls for John Proctor, she knows that their dalliance cannot possibly have a happy outcome. Proctor will not leave his wife, because divorce would be unthinkable, and he will not continue the affair, because he remains wracked with guilt over what his society considers the grave sin of extramarital sex. Nor can Abigail comfort herself with the knowledge that she will find another lover sooner or later. Desirable men, let alone desirable men willing to sleep with women who are not their wives, are a rarity in Salem. Abigail cannot find relief by talking about her problems, since her behavior, shocking by the standards of the day, would horrify other members of her community. Frustrated at every turn, Abigail turns to violent scheming. When the spells she asks Tituba to perform snowball into a hunt for witches, Abigail sees a chance to get rid of Elizabeth Proctor, the woman she holds responsible for impeding her sexual fulfillment.

The enthusiasm with which Betty and the other girls follow Abigail’s lead can also be traced to sexual repression. Society teaches these girls that their physical urges are unnatural, even sinful. Therefore, the girls vent their feelings in secret, with each other. While we never learn precisely what happens in the woods, Miller implies that the girls’ meetings have an erotic component. In his notes in Act One, Miller likens the meetings to the “ klatches in Europe, where the daughters of the towns would assemble at night and . . . give themselves to love.” While there is nothing sinister about what Abigail and the girls do in the woods, there is something sinister about the girls’ reaction to their own behavior. They believe they are doing something horribly wrong, and when they are threatened with exposure, they grow hysterical. So convinced are they of the inherent wickedness of sexuality that they would rather send people to their deaths than confess to their own sexual behavior.

Elizabeth Proctor’s shame over her husband’s sexuality and her incapacity to discuss it openly help doom Proctor to death. Beyond her horror at her husband’s sinful adulterous behavior, Elizabeth feels an aversion to exposing that behavior in court. In part, her reluctance stems from a charitable desire to protect Proctor’s reputation. In addition, though, Elizabeth is deeply ashamed of what her husband has done. She is a notably truthful woman, whom lying causes almost physical pain. Yet she would rather lie under oath than admit she is married to an adulterer. By inadvertently casting her husband as a liar, Elizabeth helps the cause of those eager to damn him as a witch.

Miller suggests that the consequences of sexual repression can be as dire as the consequences of religious intolerance or fear of outsiders. In addition to its impassioned plea for individual rights and measured political discourse, The Crucible makes a strong case for the open acknowledgment and analysis of sexual desires.

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86 The Crucible Essay Topics & Examples

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📌 interesting essay topics for the crucible, 🔝 best the crucible essay topics, 👍 most catchy the crucible essay titles, ❓ the crucible essay questions, 💯 free the crucible essay topic generator.

The Crucible is a play by famous American playwright Arthur Miller that premiered in 1953 in NYC. It is based on a true story of the Salem witch trials that took place in the late 17th century. In your The Crucible essay, you might want to make a literary analysis of the play. Another option is to focus on one of the themes or symbols used by Miller. Whether you need to write a short 5-paragraph essay or a longer argumentative paper on the play, this article will be helpful. It contains catchy titles, research questions, and essay topics for The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Free essay examples are added to inspire you even more.

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The Crucible Essay | Essay on The Crucible for Students and Children in English

November 7, 2020 by Prasanna

The Crucible Essay: The Crucible is a play written by the American playwright Arthur Miller. It was written in the year 1953 and has since been adapted into films by eminent film directors and screenwriters. This play is a slightly dramatized and fictional rendition of the 1692-93 Salem witch trials of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings which centred around the accusation of witchcraft on more than two hundred people. Miller, in his play “The Crucible” brings about an allegorical comparison between McCarthyism, the communist hunt in the US during the Red Scare and the witch hunt of Salem.

You can also find more  Essay Writing  articles on events, persons, sports, technology and many more.

Long and Short Essays on The Crucible for Students and Kids in English

We are providing students with essay samples on a long essay of 500 words and a short essay of 150 words on the topic “The Crucible”.

Long Essay on The Crucible 500 Words in English

Long Essay on The Crucible is usually given to classes 7, 8, 9, and 10.

The play “The Crucible” is set in Salem, Massachusetts in the year 1692. The play begins in the setting of a house which belongs to Reverend Parris, where his daughter Betty lies unconscious and ill.

The previous night, Reverend Parris had seen his daughter Betty, niece Abigail and his black slave Tituba, dancing in the woods naked when suddenly Betty fainted. The physician cannot determine the cause of this illness. Soon the Putnams report a similar illness in their daughter Ruth. Reverend Parris, sure of some witchcraft at work calls Reverend John Hale to investigate the matter.

Abigail asks all the other girls involved in this act of trying to conjure a curse on Elizabeth Proctor to admit that they were only dancing in the woods and doing nothing more. Soon it is revealed that Abigail’s love for Elizabeth Proctor’s husband John proctor was the reason for her reassortment to witchcraft. A sudden scream from Betty makes the villagers assume that it was the psalm sung downstairs that made her uncomfortable.

Everyone started blaming witchcraft for these sudden unnatural incidents. On the investigation of Reverend Hale, Tituba is forced to falsely claim the work of the devil, and her along with Abigail and Betty go on accusing other girls of witchcraft.

Eight days later, John and Elizabeth are discussing the accusations in their home when Mary, their servant, brings the news that Elizabeth herself, has been accused of witchcraft. Reverend Hale arrives and admits his scepticism on the Proctor’s belief in Christianity since they do not go to church regularly and of their children is not baptized.

Soon Giles Corey and Francis Nurse enter the Proctor household informing them, and both their wives Martha and Corey and Rebecca Nurse have been imprisoned. Soon Elizabeth is also taken away by the authorities. Extremely angry John orders Mary to expose Abigail and others and agreed to disrupt his public image and speak about his relations with Abigail.

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John takes Mary to court to testify Abigail as a fraud. Proctor admits his adultery with Abigail and claims that to be the reason for these faulty accusations. To testify Proctor’s claim, Danforth calls Elizabeth, but she denies her husband’s relations to save his honour. Seizing the opportunity Abigail and the other girls claim Mary to be attacking them with evil spirits. Coming under pressure Mary sides with Abigail and calls out Proctor as the devil’s companion. Proctor is arrested and scheduled to hang.

Meanwhile, riots furnish in nearby towns, and Abigail runs away. Parris and Hale are aware of Proctor’s innocence and asks him to confess to save himself from the punishment. Elizabeth is pardoned for being pregnant with a child. John writes a confession but refuses to sign it for his name is all that he has left. He refuses to sacrifice his dignity and tears up the confession. John Proctor meets his horrific end despite being innocent. However, his wife Elizabeth says he has gotten his “goodness” back.

Short Essay on The Crucible 150 Words in English

Short Essay on The Crucible is usually given to classes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

The play is set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. It begins with Reverend Parris discovering his daughter Betty, niece Abigail and black slave Tituba dancing naked in the woods when Betty passes out.

The causes are unknown. Abigail asks all the girls involved with them not to admit their act of cursing Elizabeth Proctor. Soon it is revealed that Abigail had an affair with John Proctor and hence wanted to curse Elizabeth.

Reverend Hale starts investigating, and Tituba breaks down, claiming the work of a devil behind them. Abigail, Tituba and Betty accuse other girls of witchcraft including Elizabeth. John tries exposing Abigail by mentioning his relationship with her but fails.

Lastly, Mary, the Proctor’s servant, also testifies against him and leaves him to be arrested and hanged. The investigator Hale believes John to be innocent. John does not ask for a confession since he finds it against his dignity. A pregnant Elizabeth is pardoned while John meets his horrific end.

10 Lines on The Crucible Essay in English

1. This play is a canon of American literature. 2. It was awarded the 1953 Tony Award for Best Play. 3. It was first performed on 22nd January 1953. 4. It starred E.G Marshaille, Madaeline Sherwood and others. 5. The play was performed for the first time in the Martin Beck Theatre of Broadway. 6. It is divided into four acts. 7. The title of the play, the word crucible, is used as a pun here. 8. The play was adapted into two films, one by Miller and the other by Jean-Paul Sartre. 9. Miller was himself accused of “contempt of congress”. 10. The play was heavily influenced by the US senate McCarthy’s claim of communist infiltration in the country.

FAQ’s on The Crucible Essay

Question 1. When did the Salem witch trial take place?

Answer: The Salem witch trial took place in the years 1692-93.

Question 2. What does the word Crucible mean?

Answer:  It means a series of trials or a metal container in which metals are melted.

Question 3. Who was McCarthy?

Answer: McCarthy was a US senate who claimed a communist infiltration in the country and put many people on trial.

Question 4. What is the main message of the play?

Answer: It mainly tries to reflect the mob mentality of people and the false accusations leading to the punishment of an innocent.

Crucible Essay

crucible theme essay

The Crucible

The Crucible Many different parts form together to make up the society we see in The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller. Whether it be religion, government, or social roles; they all play some sort of impacting part to the characters we met while watching The Crucible. Who knew that religion and government could change a person’s life in a matter of minutes like it did so many times throughout the movie. The characters like Abigail Williams and John Proctor both knew the risks of going against

English Homework Sophia Cassan What role does sex, and sexual repression play in The Crucible? The Crucible is a play constructed on conflict, lies and deception, written by Arthur Miller in 1952. The key theme of this theatrical four-act drama is ‘Wheels within wheels’. Set in Salem, in the heart of puritan Massachusetts, in 1692, the plot follows a community of villagers plagued by accusations of witchcraft. Amidst the executions of their friends, the remaining villagers turn to religion, rumours

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible explores tolerance through a variety of situations all based around the accusations, and the actual Salem witch trials. Tolerance is a result of different people’s experiences, such as conflicts with each other, or themselves, the actions of the characters, and the different themes that tie into the novel. Whether it is how “witches” are taking over Salem or how adultery is ruining people’s marriages, Miller makes sure tolerance is portrayed. The tolerance that the characters

The Crucible: Act One 1. Where and when is the opening scene of the play set? * The opening scene was held in the Salem in the Spring of year 1692 2. Why has Parris sent for Reverend Hale from Beverly? * Parris sent for Reverend Hale to see what is going on with his sick daughter, Betty. 3. What do we learn about the events in the forest and Abigail Williams’ connections with the Proctor family? * Abigail is in love with John Proctor and drank some charm to

The Crucible Act Four Questions Short Response Answer the following questions based on your knowledge of the drama. Write a response on a separate sheet of paper. 1. Where does Tituba think that the Devil is going to take her? 2. Give one example of how Abigail shows her dishonesty in this act. 3. What effect do the trials have on Salem? Use three details from the drama to support your answer. 4. When first arrives at the Salem jail, Danforth complains, “There is a prodigious stench in this

The Crucible “The witch-hunt was not, however, a mere repression. It was also, and as importantly, a long overdue opportunity for everyone so inclined to publicly express his guilt and sin, under the cover of accusations against the victims.” (Page 7 of Act One). These conflicts result and produce even more tragic occurrences. These conflicts are between either those have sinned and been accused – John Proctor, those who have been sinned against and accused out of jealousy and fear – Elizabeth

The play of “The Crucible” takes place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. This play is based off of the events that took place during the Salem Witch Trials. During this time Massachusetts was still a colony and Salem was a Puritan village within the colony. Arthur Miller, the author of this play, explains that the Salem Witch Trials developed from the Puritan's moral code during that time. The Puritan’s during this time were against all things out of the norm in their society such as witchcraft, affairs

The Crucible Definition

Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, “The Crucible”, is there a mention of any form of a Crucible. Where did Arthur Miller come up with the title of his play? In fact he uses the title as a metaphor for both definitions of the term. The title “The Crucible” can be interpreted as having characteristics of both a crucible from chemistry and a crucible to describe hard tests and trials. The easiest definition to explain is the physical, more literal form of a crucible. It is a piece of laboratory equipment

Judgement The Crucible

The Crucible, an excellent drama for the large diversity of themes and its judgements to the drama. These notions and themes appear from the methodology of insincerity to reposition out of harm’s way and tossing an accusation towards another individual to the idea of valuing your family name. The witch-hunt plays an important portion of influencing the characters along with how they act to the events. The Crucible contains a variety of means to interpret the Author’s intentions of the Crucible, but

The Crucible Weaknesses

a difficult task some people respond better than others. Some people may give no effort because something is too challenging or involves too much work. Others may take action and work hard to succeed. Some people have the fear of failure. In “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller, some characters succeed through tough tasks and others accept defeat. Abigail Williams is a 17 year old girl who wants to have a good reputation in the town, but she also takes many interesting actions to boost her reputation.

The Crucible Analysis

The Crucible by Arthur Miller is a one of a kind, outstanding play that remains relevant from the 1950’s through today. The Crucible depicts life in the 1600s during the Salem witch trials. Arthur Miller crafts an intricately layered story with many points of view from a variety of characters. Although the story takes place in 1692 the lessons and values taught have importance in our society today. One of the lessons highlighted in The Crucible is how ignorance can affect communities and even have

Jealousies In The Crucible

From The Crucible and my own experience there have been some types of jealousies, selfish ambitions, and peer pressures, etc. They are both the same from the story and into real life experience. So let’s start with The Crucible there is a lot going on in there because there is proctor and elizabeth and abigail and more there is jealousies and more. And in my life experience there has been the same thing like friend.From the author Victor Hugo he explained on society is a republic. Well it’s referring

Reflection On The Crucible

The Crucible book written by Arthur Miller based on a real life story that happened in 1692 to 1693 In Salem Massachusetts was based on lies and injustice, genre is play, The author's purpose is to inform the audience about what happened during the witch trials . The Salem Village was full Puritans and they was very strict based on church rules. People that missed church regularly will be justified as a witch or malignant and will be put to shame on a stockade. People that break the rules of the

Significance Of The Crucible

Another book read and added to Goodreads, but why was The Crucible chosen to be read in class? What is the importance? This book gives so many lesson. The title gives so many key aspects that are still applied to today. The Crucible by Arthur Miller fits its name because of the conflicts the story contains and how it can connect still today with the “crucibles” such as revenge and pride we face. A crucible can be defined in two definitions and one being, a piece of laboratory equipment used to hold

Hysteria In The Crucible

Arthur Miller, author of The Crucible written in 1953, betrays hysteria among the people in Salem. The type of society in The Crucible is completely different to today's. Social media has taken an overwhelming role in the way people think about the world today. The media has created an unnecessary fear in everyone based on what In today’s society, social media has allowed people to communicate faster, resulting in hysteria. Hysteria was a main factor in several accusations of witchcraft that occurred

Superstitions In The Crucible

Crucible Superstitions Arthur Miller based his novel, The Crucible, on a true set of events that occurred in Salem, Massachusetts, in the year 1692. Salem had become a town where neighbors and enemies would blame each other of witchcraft, without actual evidence to support their accusations. Most of the accusations led to the victim being guilty. If the Puritans thought you were guilty, you had to either confess or be hanged. The Puritans believed that if you confessed, God would forgive you, which

The Crucible In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, Abigail Williams will do whatever it takes to win John Proctor over Elizabeth. Abigail is known for stirring up trouble. Will she win? In The Crucible, Abigail Williams is the villain of the play, she is manipulative towards her friends, the townspeople and causes the lives of others. Abigail is the reason for the starting of the Salem witch trials. In Act one of The Crucible, Abigail has an affair with John Proctor. Abigail, her friends, and

Mccarthyism In The Crucible

In Arthur Miller 's powerful play The Crucible, written in 1953 as a allegory and metaphor for the McCarthy hearings on communism in America, the idea of conscience is greatly emphasized in many of the main characters. Arthur Miller wrote the play The Crucible in response to the red scare of the 1950’s, in which he was was condemned for disrespect & disapproval of the United States Congress for being unsuccessful in naming numerous individuals who had attended meetings with him. In a bid to not

Fate In The Crucible

regarded as successful unless at its end the main character meets a fate that seems to be the natural result of what he has done or shown himself to be. Show how this statement is true in The Crucible. Every dramatic play has a tragic hero with a twisted fate. John Proctor is the hero of a play called The Crucible by Arthur Miller. John is a decent man who lives with his wife, Elizabeth Proctor, in Salem, Massachusetts during the 17th century. Miller writes based on the popular interests of the people

Evidences In The Crucible

The play The Crucible, created by Arthur Miller, gives people a mixed feeling about society in early America. The play applied to everyday life in modern society where power and money drive people crazy and they willing to do whatever it took to gain benefits for themselves. Presidential debate is where people tried to do just that, they often tell lies to give other candidates a bad reputation so the people could vote for them because of their amazing promises. The play The Crucible was wrote more

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The Crucible Essay Theme: Proctor’s Choice, Essay Example

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The Crucible Essay Theme: Proctor’s Choice, Essay Example

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In the 1953 play, “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller, John Proctor commits a series of deeds that lead his Salem community to believe he has become involved with witchcraft. This accusation forces him to make an important decision, he can either plead guilty and admit that he was in league with the Devil, even though this would be a false statement, and live, or he could plead innocent and risk being stoned to death. While pleading guilty would have saved his life, it would have undermined the fact that he was trying to be honest to the Salem community about his bad personal choices, which had little to do with witchcraft. Furthermore, it would have supported the evil actions of Abigail, whose lies killed many members of the community including John Proctor’s wife, Sarah. Since John Proctor believes that he needs to do something to stop the madness that has overcome Salem and prevent Abigail from continuing to get her way. Ultimately, this final act indicates that John Proctor is really a good person, although human and capable of making mistakes. By refusing to plead guilty, Proctor is committing one final act of good with the hope that it will allow his community to realize their hysteria is unfounded and he made the best possible decision he had the ability to in this situation.

One of the major themes of “The Crucible” is the concept of fate and whether one truly has control over their own destiny. Since the people of Salem all have Puritan beliefs, their lives revolve around their worship of God and they have very strict rules regarding how people should behave and dress. As a consequence, the major threat to these people’s lifestyle was influence from the Devil; his involvement in their lives would cause them to commit acts that God would not approve of, which would tarnish their pure lifestyle. Although John Proctor had little free will in his daily life in the community, he was presented with one of the first opportunities to do so when he was given the decision as to whether or not he should go to court to explain Abigail’s claim that there was no witchcraft, that he has Mary Warren’s testimony that her and the other girls had been faking, and even that he had an affair with Abigail, in order to clear the name of his wife from accusations of witchcraft. This is an active decision rather than a consequence of fate because John Proctor was very well aware of the rules that his community set forth and that he himself could potentially get into a lot of trouble for accusing others of lying and especially for committing adultery. However, John Proctor decides to uphold his Puritan ethics and do what is truly right for both himself and his wife; since he knew his wife was innocent of the charge of witchcraft, he knew that he needed to do everything in his power to prevent her execution.

A second time that John Proctor goes against fate is when he decides to not plead guilty in order to uphold the honor of all of those that had died due to accusations of witchcraft. John Proctor was expected to have accepted the guilty plea and claim that he committed his actions because he was under influence by the Devil and that his wife was in fact, a witch. Not only would John Proctor have been lying if he agree to the terms of the court, he would have been damaging the pride of his family. Furthermore, he would be playing into Abigail’s scheme. John Proctor was aware that Abigail was obsessed with him and did not want him to die, so he aimed to take advantage of fate by pleading innocent; he knew that if he died, it would snap Abigail back into reality and she would potentially admit all the wrong she had done. Therefore, John Proctor makes the correct ethical decision by decided to be a martyr for all of those that had died including his wife, and make one final attempt to prevent future witchcraft hysteria. This is an active act against fate because in a godly Puritan society, one would expect that a civilian would always side with the authority of the community.

Although John Proctor’s choice is difficult, he was fortunate to have been provided the opportunity to say what he believed to be the right choice. It is unfortunate however, that the right choice needed to be embedded in so much pain and misery. What went from Proctor’s desire to save his wife’s life caused him to end up in an ordeal of his own. To determine whether John Proctor truly made the right decision, it is necessary to explore the alternative choices he had available to him. When John Proctor committed adultery and lechery by having an affair with Abigail, he had several options available to him. He could have either remained silent, admitted the act to his wife, admitted the act to the court and asked for forgiveness from the community, explained to Abigail what happened so that she could understand that he still loves his wife, or a combination of the above events. According to the consequentialist point of view, maximizing good consequences and minimizing bad ones for all concerns leads to optimal ethical value. In this situation, the worst decision that John Proctor could have made was to remain silent. If he had remained silent, he would have been unable to defend his wife, allowed Abigail to get away with murder, and have done nothing to show his community the error in their ways. The second to worst decision that John Proctor could have made is that he should simply explain what happened to Abigail so she wouldn’t get the wrong impression of his action. While this would be helpful to the overall situation, Abigail may fail to understand or believe John Proctor’s words and become extremely hurt, which may lead her to cry witch more frequently and harm others. The second best decision available to John Proctor is to explain the adultery to his wife Sarah. Although this knowledge would hurt her initially, it would help her understand the reason that she was accused of witchcraft and that her husband truly loves her and will do anything to help her. Even though it is unlikely that John Proctor to do anything to help her case, it is better for her to die knowing the truth, that she is loved, and that her husband regrets making that mistake. According to the actions on the aforementioned list, the best decision that John Proctor could have made was to go to the courts and admit the adultery crime. Although John Proctor risked getting harmed himself, he was protecting other innocent people in the process which makes the act justifiable. Although John Proctor’s ultimate act was the most ethical out of all available choices, it would have been more ideal if he had admitted the act to his wife, admitted the act to the court and asked for forgiveness from the community, explained to Abigail what happened so that she could understand that he still loves his wife. Ultimately however, John Proctor’s act showed that despite the fact that he made a grave mistake by committing adultery and lechery with Abigail, he is still guided by Puritan ethics and wishes to take the actions that will benefit the greatest amount of people even if they will personally cause him harm.

When John Proctor makes his decision to plead innocent in the court, we must consider the narrow-minded opinions of people in the court due to the witchcraft hysteria that was occurring in Salem, Massachusetts. Under normal circumstances, John Proctor and the others may have been spared their lives, but the constraints of society certainly narrowed the options available to all of them. Many of the actions that occurred throughout the story reflect a lack of understanding of all situations in which people do not strictly adhere to the rules of God, which isn’t surprising in a Puritan society. However, the court and others that preside over the daily activities of the Salem people fail to consider that human error is possible in its civilians. This is the one tragic flaw that residents of Salem all had during this time period. While John Proctor’s crime of adultery and lechery was extreme and may have resulted in legal action in normal cases in his society, people were accused of witchcraft for far simpler misgivings including forgetting the words to Hail Mary and other aspects of Puritan religion. It was erroneous for the town to have decided that these and other silly signs were witchcraft without giving their former friends and family members the opportunity to redeem themselves. As a consequence, John Proctor was aware that his decision to plead innocent would incriminate him. He knew that society would not allow a man who plead innocent to witchcraft and had committed two serious crimes against God to live and an example must be made of him. Therefore, John Proctor was certainly aware of the action that he made and its implications. Although he likely did not want to die, he noticed that the people of Salem needed a change in their way of thinking. He proved that it is possible to be a just, godly man, while still making mistakes. While man should try to be perfect and live life in the image of God, Christianity dictates that God made man flawed and that they should live their lives trying to learn from his example. Because the community of Salem arrested people on the basis of their shortcomings, they were not presented with the natural opportunity to try to better themselves, which John Proctor wanted to demonstrate was an erroneous way of thinking.

Ultimately, a good Christian in Puritan society is a person who thoroughly believes in God and Jesus, prays regularly, follows the Ten Commandments and the bible, and does their best to help others. By this definition, John Proctor’s decision led him to be one of the goodliest and dedicated Christian’s out of all of the characters in the play. While following Christian law is essential, the ability to commit good deeds and help others is even more important. The Ten Commandments which guides the daily life of the Puritans states that one should not take the lord’s name in vein, that there is only one God, that the Sabbath day should be celebrated, that family should be honored, that one shouldn’t kill, that one should not commit adultery, that one should not steal, that one should not bear false witness, and that one should not covet. Although John Proctor is in clear violation of some of these principles, including committing adultery, he makes the best of his situation by trying to follow the remaining commandments in an attempt to rectify his situation. As a consequence, John Proctor’s ultimate choice can be tied into an ethical understanding of his religious principles. While adultery is only one commandment on this list, he attempts to rectify this act by instantly regretting it and admitting it to the court to wipe his slate clean. Furthermore, John Proctor is considered good by his religion because he does not take the lord’s name in vein, worships the one true God, celebrates the Sabbath, honors his family, and does not covet. Most importantly to this situation however, he does not bear false witness and does not kill. In fact John Proctor’s actions are the opposite of these two commandments. John Proctor feels that by not taking any action to help his wife Sarah and the convicted people of the Salem community that he is ultimately leading them to their deaths. As a consequence, John Proctor brings his knowledge to the court and refuses to bear false witness and lie by pretending these events did not occur. Ultimately, Proctor’s decision was the most ethical according to his religious practices and he knew that he must report the actions of Mary and Abigail even though his report would not be met with belief.

In conclusion, John Proctor’s decision to plead innocent and not give into the whims of Abigail and her friends was the best decision. Ultimately, this led to the town’s ability to realize that Abigail and the girls were the true sinners and that many innocent people were killed as a result of their actions. In this sense, John Proctor was a hero because he allowed himself to be martyred for the sake of the well-being of others in town. John Proctor was not simply forced to make this choice as a consequence of fate, but rather carefully planned his course of action due to his personal and religious ethics. In the end, John Proctor showed that he was a good man and that his religion was thoroughly important to him by acting similarly to Jesus and sacrificing himself for the well-being of others. Eventually Proctor’s actions brought about the end of the Salem witch trials and allowed the community to live in peace.

Works Cited

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible (Penguin Classics). London: Penguin Classics, 2003.

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Home — Essay Samples — Literature — The Crucible — Analysis Of The Main Themes In The Crucible By Arthur Miller

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The Crucible Theme Essay

crucible theme essay

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Crucible themes.

            The Crucible written by Arthur Miller is a story that explains a down side to human nature. This shows how human nature can be cruel to it's own kind. In such a way that killing of it's own species begins to take place. The Crucible takes place in a little town called Salem where not too much happens besides a few disagreements between neighbors. The horrible, unexpected events that take place show how the people of Salem can actually blame their own fellow neighbors and friends of witchery to watch them hang. Others accuse out of nothing but spite. In this story mankind takes on a different kind of role, one in which is not explainable. .              In this story, Abigail Williams is the niece of a man named Reverend Parris who is Salem's minister. Abigail has already committed adultery with a man named John Proctor. At the beginning of the story Abigail drinks chicken blood to create a charm to kill John Proctor's wife Elizabeth, "She wishes to dance with me on my wife's grave!" (106). This shows how cruel mankind is to it's own species over worthless matters. Killing another human being over love is meaningless, and this is just one of the very many examples that take place in this story representing the horrible cruelness that humans present.              Another example, a man by the name of Thomas Putnam presents his very cruel side over wanting more land. Thomas has his own daughter accuse all of his fellow neighbors of witchery just to receive their land. "If Jacobs hangs for a witch he forfeit up his property - that's law! And there is none but Putnam with the coin to buy so great a piece. This man is killing his neighbors for their land!" Selfishness is yet another one of humans? worthless immoralities. So instead of buying or just inheriting his own land himself, he would have innocent people killed to benefit from their life. Thomas Putnam would have people hung for his own good and would not care at all if the people accused were guilty.

Essays Related to Crucible Themes

1. review of the crucible.

crucible theme essay

Film Review of The Crucible Salem was a town in which, perhaps like many others, various people held grievances or grudges against one another. ... While there are some obvious differences between the stage play and the film adaptation of The Crucible, the latter stays quite true to its original form. ... The movie version of The Crucible, having the advantages of film, conveys the story better than the stage play does. ... But perhaps because the author of the original had a part in creating the film, The Crucible passed the test, so to speak. None of the original themes or messages wer...

2. Themes And the Crucible

crucible theme essay

Themes and The Crucible The Crucible by Arthur Miller is a historical play, but more importantly a social and psychological drama. The diverse ways the themes are developed through The Crucible are through characters, plot, setting and dialogue. ... The concept of evil is central to The Crucible. ... The Crucible's main theme 'evil' can be developed through characters such as Rebecca Nurse who warns us of the danger of seeking of spirits and Abigail Williams who is evil, commits lechery with John Proctor. ... All these, and others help to develop the theme. ...

3. Themes of The Crucible

crucible theme essay

Themes of The Crucible In Arthur Miller's, The Crucible, there were many themes expressed throughout the play. ... The Crucible uses strong themes to show the events and actions which took place in the year of 1692, in Salem, Massachusetts. One major theme in the play was justice. This theme was central throughout the play. ... This plays an important role in The Crucible because everything that was actually good and true was lost in the throes of hysteria. ...

4. The Crucible's Theme

crucible theme essay

The Crucible: The movie The play of the movie is based in the well-known book called The Crucible by Arthur Miller. ... That is why I pick "Anger and jealously destroyed the lives of innocent people" as the main theme of the movie. And this theme is very related with the movie and the play of it. I will discuss some of the differences between the movie and the book and how the theme of the movie is related with the book. ... The movie and the book are very alike, there isn't any big difference and also the theme that I pick for the movie is related. ...

5. Themes In The Crucible

Pride Theme The Crucible is not only a recounting of the Salem witch trials, Arthur Miller writes this allegory as a study on humanity that reflects upon the social and political crisis of his age - the Red Scare. He develops the characters in the play to present the themes of pride and self-centeredness. ... Miller presents humanity in both positive and negative perspectives in The Crucible. ... Along with several others, the themes of pride and self-centeredness are the building blocks of The Crucible. These themes on humanity are not unique to the Salem village or Puritan societies, beca...

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crucible theme essay

Themes in "The Crucible" The play The Crucible introduces us to some vital insights by the themes presented throughout it. ... This theme is displayed in the past in Hollywood as well as Salem. These two themes displayed in The Crucible are applied to today's life as well as in past historic events. ... In conclusion, the theme of fear and suspicion in society is threaded into The Crucible. This is a theme relevent to today's as well as past society. ...

7. Crucible

crucible theme essay

A Major Theme of The Crucible According to the Webster's Dictionary, a crucible is "a vessel in which metal is heated to a high temperature and melted for the purposes of casting". ... There are many interpretations of the word crucible as there is for the theme of Arthur Miller's, The Crucible. ... Both of these themes can be abridged to form one main theme, good versus evil. ... Here, the theme of good versus bad is represented. ... One of the most important events in the novel, that clearly shows William's main theme, is John Proctors struggle in his crucible situation. ...

8. The Crucible

crucible theme essay

The Crucible is a wonderfully written book by Arthur Miller in the 1950's. ... The world today is similar to The Crucible in a way that the society was. ... Another theme of The Crucible was believing what you hear and not what is true. ... These themes are only a few of the many in the book The Crucible. ... The setting in a story is always important and The Crucible portrays the setting superbly. ...

crucible theme essay

The Crucible

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Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon

Puritanism and Individuality

Puritan society required that its members follow strict guidelines of social order. These rigid rules of conduct helped the Puritans endure the persecution they faced in Europe and, after they came to America, created a close-knit community able to withstand the harsh weather and Native American attacks common to New England in the 17th century. But communities that focus primarily on social order leave no room for personal freedom. Those who think or act independently…

Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon

In The Crucible , neighbors suddenly turn on each other and accuse people they've known for years of practicing witchcraft and devil-worship. The town of Salem falls into mass hysteria, a condition in which community-wide fear overwhelms logic and individual thought and ends up justifying its own existence. Fear feeds fear: in order to explain to itself why so many people are afraid, the community begins to believe that the fear must have legitimate origins.

Hysteria Theme Icon

The Danger of Ideology

An ideology is a rigid set of beliefs that defines what an individual or community thinks. In the Puritan theocracy of Massachusetts, a government run by religious authorities, the dominant ideology held that the Puritans were a chosen people that the devil would do anything to destroy. Since religious men ran their government, the Puritans considered all government actions to be necessarily "good," or sanctioned by Heaven. This meant that any attempt to question, obstruct…

The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon

Reputation and Integrity

Reputation is the way that other people perceive you. Integrity is the way you perceive yourself. Several characters in The Crucible face a tough decision: to protect their reputation or their integrity. Parris , Abigail , and others to protect their reputations. Rebecca Nurse and, eventually, John Proctor, choose to protect their integrity.

In rigid communities like Salem, a bad reputation can result in social or even physical punishment. The Crucible argues that those most…

Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon

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Essay Service Examples Literature The Crucible

Fear in The Crucible Essay

Fear is often based on an absence of information. This year celebrates the 65th anniversary of ‘The Crucible’ written by Arthur Miller. A play based on the Salem Witch trials of 1692 when, nineteen people were persecuted and subsequently imprisoned or hanged after they were accused of witchcraft based on nothing but accusation and hearsay. Arthur Miller himself had been condemned by the US congress for his un-American communist political leanings. He was blacklisted and his career suffered as a result. This inspired Miller to write the play reflecting the political madness that developed when the United States Government fought to eradicate radical liberal sentiment and communism (Glass, A. (2013).

‘The Crucible’ is an allegory of the McCarthyism insanity. During the late 1940s the prospect of communism terrified many with many believing that it would undermine the morals and traditions of society at the time. Republican Senator Joseph R. McCarthy misused and exploited this fear to gain political power. Miller used the Salem witch trials as a metaphor for McCarthyism. The Salem witch trials, and McCarthyism both manipulated in order to ruin reputations and ultimately gain power. Accusations were often biased and unreliable and based on little or no evidence.

The result of the manipulation of fear is the basis on which Miller bases his play ‘The Crucible’. It is the overwhelming theme illustrated throughout. In his play Miller uses fear to show manipulation of a whole town. He uses stylistic devices, aesthetic features and characterisation such as the forest, dancing naked, and supernatural themes to evoke fear and a subsequent reaction. The poppet used to accuse Elizabeth Proctor for example was a symbol denoting witchcraft and subsequently something to be feared. Mainstream media, politicians, corporations and activists use these techniques still today. Propaganda based on fear rather than fact is widely used to manipulate public opinion. False accusations and mudslinging is often used to persuade the public during an election for example and there seems to be little to no accountability for misrepresenting the truth. Fear manipulates by preying on our concerns and subsequently triggering an emotional response upon which we ultimately act. Miller uses this premise throughout his play. Abigail’s fear for her future upon being discovered dancing in the forest causes her to act irrationally, ultimately leading to widespread hysteria and panic.

In ‘The Crucible’ the people of Salem fear the unknown and what they cannot control. This fear of the unknown and of all things supernatural fuelled the conflict around which the play is based. People were terrified of being labelled a witch if they voiced any disagreement towards the trials or what was considered widespread public opinion. This represents the McCarthyism insanity, where people feared being blacklisted because of a perceived association with communism or for being a communist.

crucible theme essay

Fear has been responsible for some of the most abhorrent actions by man and has caused the collapse of some of the world’s largest organisations and political powers. 9/11 brought terrorism to the forefront. Fear of subsequent attacks now impacts most aspects of our lives, destabilising normalcy and invading rational thinking. Mainstream media often manipulates public sentiment by evoking fear through sensationalised journalism. The media would have us believe all Muslims are potential terrorists. Terrorists use this fear to their advantage to gain power and control. Fear based stories pray on our anxieties and weaknesses. The fear of crime can often be worse than the crime itself.

Climate change and our destructive ecological footprint is another nightmare worrying today’s society. Climate pessimists are on a scaremongering campaign using any chance to pin naturally occurring environmental disasters on climate change. Whilst climate change is a real issue and should not be overlooked, using fear as a tool of manipulation to achieve a point is not the correct approach or an ethical way to go about it.

The anti-vaccine movement is another modern-day manipulator. The movement began in France in 1763. Recently UK researcher and surgeon Dr Andrew Wakefield implied a connection between the measles mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism upon which the anti-vaccine movement jumped. Thanks largely to sensationalised journalism and modern media this led to a 20% fall in MMR vaccination rates soon after. The fear of harming one’s own children was responsible for this decrease. Interestingly his research has since been discredited. Despite the growth of anti-vaccination groups however, over 93% of five-year-old’s are up to date with their vaccinations thanks to government initiatives. In ‘The Crucible’ Abigail used fear to redirect the focus away from her wrongdoings onto innocent parties. By accusing others of witchcraft Abigail played on the towns fear of witchcraft and the ramifications if accused. It was accuse or be accused. Terrorists, climate pessimists and the anti-vaccination movement all use propaganda and sensationalised journalism to prey on our fears and manipulate in order to push their own agenda.

Fear is a powerful tool. Arthur Miller portrays in his play ‘The Crucible’ how destructive it can be when misused. Whether it is real or perceived seems to be of no consequence. Miller uses aesthetic features, stylistic devices and characterisations to heighten the sense of fear for his readers and to capture the paranoia and violence that resulted in McCarthyism, an allegory for the play. History demonstrates how detrimental a role fear can still play in today’s society. Whilst the subjects of human hysteria may change, the underlying mistrust and wariness makes us all susceptible to manipulation. Modern day media infiltrates our everyday lives like never before. Portable personal devices allow us to be accessible and up to date 24/7. We can experience any occasion as if we were truly there. Modern mainstream media uses this to pray on our fears and manipulate our opinions. A dose of healthy realism is often required to temper our fears.


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“The Crucible” Themes by Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible , which was published back in 1953, remains one of the most notable plays of English literature because it is full of themes that transcend time and are still relevant today. For readers to understand the intentions behind the story, it is imperative to dig deeper into the philosophy and the context within which it is set. Miller could not write explicitly about his own time because the attitudes and opinions would have been too controversial. Instead, the author chooses to set the story in Salem during the 17th century and mentions historical events that shaped American society of that time. The underlying purpose is to comment on the themes that are relevant to Miller’s own time and situation, and the examples of the witch hysteria and religious paranoia are used as metaphors for the negative side of the human nature, and especially in cases when people commit unjust and unspeakable acts as a response to irrational fear.

The themes of paranoia and hysteria are closely intertwined into the story. The panic among the villagers of Salem causes them to fall for false suspicions of others committing a crime. The most prominent example of this is Abigail, who exploits the hysteria in her community to accuse Elizabeth Proctor of practicing witchcraft to send her to jail. Also, Reverend Parris manages to use the chaos to strengthen his position and reputation among the villages by ‘pointing fingers’ at people who question his authority, such as John Proctor. The hysteria and paranoia are attributed to the immense belief of Salem people in God, which prevents them from thinking clearly or rationally: “HALE: No man may longer doubt the powers of the dark are gathered in monstrous attack up on this village. There is too much evidence now to deny it!” (Miller 61). By shedding light on the topics of hysteria and paranoia, the author makes a point about the politics of his time and how its true goals can be warped when the population is in a hysteric state. For instance, the massive panic that stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic has led to immense ways of misinformation and irrational decisions made by the public, which shows that Miller’s choice of the theme remains relevant.

The theme of jealousy is highly prominent in The Crucible and is one of the essential interpersonal issues. In the play, the actions of Abigail are highly driven by jealousy of Elizabeth, and wants her ‘rival’ to disappear so she can find love with John. Because of jealousy, Abigail sees the other young woman as her enemy and a barrier that stands in the way of her happiness. Ironically, the villagers are supposed to be intensely religious and righteous people, but the feelings of jealousy overcome them and lead to sinful behavior: “ABIGAIL: But God made my face; you cannot want to tear my face. Envy is a deadly sin, Mary” (Miller 106). Jealously also causes Thomas Putnam to envy the property of others, and he wants George Jacobs to pass away, so he gets some of his lands. Although not discussed by Miller in-depth, envy and jealousy are the driving forces for the majority of drama occurring between the characters in Salem.

Written during the period of communism fearing, or otherwise known as the “Red Scare,” the play also extensively sheds light on such themes as politics and power. In the play, both individual and sociopolitical power are relevant, with the combination of the Law and the Church facilitating the core pillars of sociopolitical power against which the population of Salem cannot stand. Due to the witch hunt hysteria, the characters of the play acquire power even though they were not relevant previously. As the witch craze in Salem intensifies, the power of Abigail increases because she becomes the core witness to the insights of the allegedly satanic cult. After the witch trial ends, Reverend Parris loses his power and authority that he used to hold in Salem. Within the climate of fear, the sociopathic nature of Abigail flourishes, which is an important twist that Miller makes intentionally. It allows to reflect on the situations in which evil people have managed to thrive at the expense of others’ stress and fear, which creates a twisted power dynamic. The author suggests that the power of superstition and paranoia is far greater than of logic, making parallels to the oppression he faced when being suspected of working for communists.

There is no theme in The Crucible that cannot be traced to the issues that modern society faces. The depth with which they are explored shows that Miller made parallels between the craze and hysteria of Salem and its witch hunt and the panic that captured the American society in the era of McCarthyism. By discussing such themes as social hysteria, power and authority, and human jealousy, the author weaves the veil of the play’s storyline to carefully camouflage his true opinions of the social and political climate of his time.

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts . Penguin, 2011.

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The Crucible Themes 2 Pages 491 Words

             In the play, The Crucible, the playwright Arthur Miller portrayed many different themes. He uses real life events from the Salem Witch Trials in 1692 to show that fear and suspicion are infectious and can produce a mass hysteria that destroys public order and rationality.              There are many scenes in the play that suggests the theme that fear and suspicion are infectious and can produce a mass hysteria that destroys public order and rationality. One example of this is the afflicted girls use the people's fear of witches to get rid of people they do not like. The same goes for Reverend Parris when he says people's names that do not like him to the girls so that they can accuse them and have them hanged for not confessing. The court also goes with this theme by using the fear of being hanged to go against the Christian belief and tell a lie about being a witch so they would not get hanged.              Another theme of the play is reputation. There are many lines in the play about reputation. In Act I, Reverend Parris does not want anyone to think that there is witchcraft on the girls because then people would accuse him for letting witchcraft in the town. In Act III, Judge Danforth says, " you know that near to four hundred are in the jails from Marblehead to Lynn, and upon my signature?" (1293) In this line from the play Judge Danforth is speaking to Francis Nurse about his reutation. Francis Nurse is trying to tell Danforth that the girls are deceiving him, but Danforth refuses to taint his reputation and admit being wrong so he ignores him. John Proctor attempts to keep his reputation by saying "Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!" (1333) John Proctor says this ri              ...

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Theme Of Fear In The Crucible

How does thomas putnam use mass hysteria in the crucible.

Fear has become part of humanity as humans evolve over time. Since the beginning of time humans have always been feared of the unknown. This fear of the unknown has given humans a drive to progress to be better. In the past there have been societies that take wrongful advantage of this fear by creating mass hysteria by religious, political, and social activities such as the Puritans in Salem. The famous play The Crucible by Arthur Miller demonstrates this mass hysteria which has led people of Salem in wrongful accusations and death of twenty individual citizens of Salem for witchcraft. According to the play this outbreak of fear in Salem has caused delusions of fear which has turned into a mass hysteria, a mixture of anxiety. This mass hysteria has led them to use this in fear as a tool in personal gain; it is also used towards political gain, and revenge.

Examples Of Fear In The Crucible

Parris suspects that many of the people in Salem hates him and that makes him scared and want to lie to make himself look better. Elizabeth Proctor suspects that her husband still has feelings for a girl named Abigail, who he committed an affair with before. Because of suspicion the two don’t move on and they don’t forget about the past, and it causes both of them to go to jail and for Proctor to die later.

Similarities Between The Crucible And The Great Fear

Franklin D. Roosevelt once stated “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” this is extremely apparent in the play The Crucible written by Arthur Miller that depicts the events that took place during the salem witch trials.These events in American history had countless similarities that led to the persecution of many innocent individuals. Arthur Miller effectively demonstrates this concept in his play The Crucible by drawing parallels between the witch trials of the 1690’s and the “The Great Fear” of the 1950’s.

Fear In The Crucible

During his first Inaugural Address, Franklin D. Roosevelt once announced, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Fear manipulates a persons rationality resulting in them behaving in ways they normally would not, especially in the story The Crucible written by Arthur Miller. The characters in The Crucible allow fear to manipulate their beliefs and actions. They all know what is right, but fear alters their mindset causing them to act differently. Therefore, people unintentionally allow fear to cause them to act irrationally.

Theme Of Courage In The Crucible

What makes a hero a hero? There are many traits one can have which would be described heroic. It can be their selflessness, bravery, intelligence, or even courage. In Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible many of these traits are expressed through many different characters. One attribute that really stands out in the play is courage. The heroic trait of courage is seen throughout the play in many different characters.

Essay On Fear In The Crucible

Fear is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief of someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or threat. In my own words fear is a feeling people get when someone is going to kill them. But not all fear is bad because some people feel fear differently

Theme Of Hatred In The Crucible

The Crucible by Arthur Miller was written during the cold war. He explored many themes. One of these themes was Hatred. Hatred is defined as intense dislike. Hatred is a major theme in this story because it affected the story by showing strong feelings of one character to another.

In The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, Miller uses one of his main characters, Abigail, to cause fear among the townspeople due to witchcraft. Abigail takes advantage of everyone's fear, and gets the townspeople to turn against each other or to take her side, however in the end the results are disastrous as 19 people are left dead and many remain in prison due to the accusations. Arthur Miller does this to demonstrate to his audience the dangers of using fear to motivate an audience to confront a threat. On the other hand, Franklin D. Roosevelt uses the Pearl Harbor incident to cause fear among his audience. Roosevelt uses his audience's fear of being attacked unexpectedly, like the Pearl Harbor incident, in hope to persuade them to support the war and volunteer to go to war, and the result left over 100,000 military personnel dead at the end of the war. This proves that fear should never be used to motivate an audience to confront a threat because fear is an emotion that causes people to look at everything as a threat or as dangerous, makes them feel anxiety, and it often causes people to make irrational or bad decisions, and the results are disastrous.

Why Is Fear Important In The Crucible

Fear can occur when a person has a feeling of threat or danger and sometimes harm or anxiety for oneself or another. Fear can often influence a person to take extreme measures and act irrationally. For instance there are a number of parallels between the treatment of of the accused during the Salem Witch Trials and the treatment of Muslims after 9/11 ; In both cases, people were being belittled and downgrading, and society was in a state of grief and shock and it all resulted in discrimination of the accused.

In the novel, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, the concept of fear is brought up throughout the book. Fear is very powerful and can ,make you have total control if you are the one causing the fear. The Salem Witch trials was a very fearful time in the late 1600’s, and people did things they would not normally do, but they did it because they were scared. In this book, a 17 year old girl named Abigail Williams (who you know is up to no good) is found dancing in the forest with her friends. She is accused of witchcraft, and naturally Abigail tries to take the blame off of herself. But she goes a bit too far. Abigail starts accusing everyone, but one person she is particularly interested in is Elizabeth Proctor. Since Abigail and John Proctor

Fear is something everyone has no matter how strong they may present themselves. Fear is an emotion that becomes a threat because of something in ones life that was approached unordinary. In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, fear is such a powerful feeling that gives huge impacts on people. For example, Abigail and Judge Danforth. Fear causes them to lie in order to protect themselves.

The Massachusetts Bay Company in the late 17th century still had not made many scientific discoveries, and so many things were said to be caused by supernatural forces. But, the Puritans sharp religious values also caused them to fear any sign of the devil, including witches. The Crucible by Arthur Miller addresses the overwhelming fear that helped lead to the Salem witch trials. Fear led Salem towards hysteria by swaying people away from admitting the truth, and by forcing people to maintain the hysteria to maintain their reputation.

Examples Of Fear Of Reality In The Crucible

Fear dominates various aspects of life. It can elicit physiological and emotional responses that greatly influence an individual’s reaction. For example, fear can cause an individual to experience an adrenaline rush that gives someone an extra burst of energy to lift a car or quickly flee from a situation. Fear can also cripple an individual by producing intense feelings of anxiety and nervousness. A common phobia, arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, can lead to symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and breathlessness (Cherry). Clearly, fear has a large impact on an individual. However, fear can influence an entire community as well. In The Crucible and Guilty by Suspicion, fear motivates members of a community to target

“The only thing to fear is fear itself.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt). Fear is a commonly confused emotion. Everyone’s response to fear varies. People may pass off fear as other things such as stress, anxiety, and in some cases laughter. When someone is fearful of something, they usually will not show it. Most people don’t know how to express their fear. In “The Crucible”, fear is shown through the way characters go about their business and everyday lives. John Proctor showed fear when he told on himself for having an affair with Abigail Williams. He gave himself away because he feared what the court would do to his wife. He confessed, but she continued to lie for him. The court officials believed her, therefore he went to jail and was hanged for

How Is Fear Presented In The Crucible

This inspirational quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt can be related to the power of fear, which can be seen within the play, The Crucible by Arthur Miller. The intensity of the feeling of fear is very much based on personal opinions towards certain things. From a group of five people, two could be scared of spiders and bugs, one could be afraid of the dark and one could fear both of these things equally. Fear overrules people and can change their behaviour and can also change the behaviour of others. The emotion of fear portrayed in the play is evident through the use of stage directions, language. It can also be shown using camera angle, actions, lighting and choice of music as well as dialogue screen directions and expressions.

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The Crucible

by Arthur Miller

The Crucible Themes

T he main themes in  The Crucible include the destructive power of lies, the importance of reputation, and hysteria and corruption.

Last Updated on April 22, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 764

The Destructive Power of Lies

The Crucible deals heavily with the idea of deceit, and as the events of the play unfold, it is clear that dishonesty is both a cause and a product of the witch trials. In the very first scene, the audience is presented with the lie that sets off the events of the play: Abigail's account of what happened in the woods with the other girls. Abigail initially insists to Parris that the girls were only dancing and vehemently denies that they "conjured spirits." Under questioning, however, Abigail then amends her story and claims that it was Ruth and Tituba who attempted to summon spirits, not her. Even this is a lie, as a later conversation with the other girls reveals that Abigail tried casting a charm to kill Elizabeth Proctor.

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Abigail's tenuous relationship with the truth and ability to lie convincingly foreshadow the false accusations that will later come to dominate Salem. As the witch trials escalate, the truth becomes less and less important to those in power. Even when dishonest individuals come clean—for example, John Proctor reveals his affair, and Mary Warren admits that girls fabricated their accusations—their confessions fall on deaf ears. Reverend Hale comes to believe that truth has little power in Salem and, abandoning his Christian principles, counsels those convicted of witchcraft to falsely confess in order to save themselves from execution.

The Importance of Reputation

One's reputation is paramount in Salem—an idea that is highlighted through several different characters. Notably, Parris's concern in the first scene is less for his apparently ill daughter and more for how the girls' dancing in the forest and suspected witchcraft may reflect negatively on him. He frets that there is a faction of people within Salem who would like nothing more than to see him gone—and, assuming this faction is led by John Proctor, Parris targets him during the witch trials. Notably, the first women accused of witchcraft are those with poor reputations: Tituba, a slave; Sarah Good, a recluse; and Goody Osborne, a drunk. As the hysteria escalates, however, social standing becomes less important, and eventually, several highly regarded individuals, including Rebecca Nurse, fall prey to the accusations.

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Reputation also plays a key role in John Proctor's internal conflict as he grapples with the private shame of his immoral affair and his fear that his sin will be made public. Paradoxically, his overwhelming desire to preserve his reputation, or "good name," is what prevents John—ordinarily a good and moral man—from doing the right thing: though he knows the girls are lying, he is reluctant to expose them when doing so may reveal that he had an affair with Abigail. When he himself is accused of witchcraft, John comes to realize that his good name can only be preserved by telling the truth. In the end, he chooses to die with his dignity and honor intact rather than make a false public confession, and in doing so, he finally reclaims his "goodness."

The Relationship Between Hysteria and Corruption

Fear can drive people to react irrationally, and in The Crucible , fear of witchcraft leads Salem down a path of hysteria, corruption, and revenge that nearly destroys the town. The townspeople are convinced that witchcraft is real and present in their town, despite the presence of logical explanations for the strange occurrences at the beginning of the play. Their willingness to embrace the rumors of witchcraft stems not only from their Puritan beliefs but also from the deep resentments and interpersonal conflicts that simmer within the town. While some, including John Proctor, Reverend Hale, and Giles Corey try—and fail—to quell the mounting hysteria, others cynically exploit the chaos for their own purposes. Parris uses the crisis to strengthen his authority as the town's religious leader, and Thomas Putnam gains revenge against Francis Nurse by having Rebecca Nurse accused of witchcraft.

Accused individuals who wish to live must confess—and in turn are expected to accuse others. This flawed system of justice thus not only falsely reinforces the legitimacy of the girls' claims but also perpetuates the cycle of accusations, enabling the trials to spiral out of control. The speed and ferocity of the witchcraft scare is precisely what makes the hysteria so difficult to halt, as doing so would require those in charge to admit that they have made grave errors in judgment. Indeed, Danforth admits as much when he refuses to postpone Rebecca Nurse's execution, citing his fear that "reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now."

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Themes and Meanings

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 359

The Crucible is a play about a man’s refusal to lie in order to satisfy phony claims enforced by the establishment; it portrays mass paranoia and the struggle to maintain human dignity in the face of a universe bereft of reason and order. The play’s attitude to the specific topic of witchcraft, however, is thoroughly naturalistic. Characters are motivated by rational economic concerns, jealousy, or a juvenile passion for the forbidden; even the religious zeal of Parris has its deeper roots in the minister’s wish that he could continue to “preach nothin’ but golden candlesticks until he had them.”

In this climate, The Crucible focuses on how man can deal with a fierce authority which demands that he perform immoral acts in order to maintain a hypocritical status quo. The “theocracy” of the Puritan settlement will not allow any cracks to appear in the facade of traditional religion behind which the powerful guard their position of advantage. In the key scene of Proctor’s confrontation with Deputy Governor Danforth, the playwright shows that, like the Roman Catholic inquisitors of Giordano Bruno and Galileo, Danforth has an inkling that to reverse the court’s judgment would be to open the door to broader implications, since “the entire contention of the state in these trials is that the voice of Heaven is speaking through the children.” Repeatedly, Danforth asks Proctor, “There lurks nowhere in your heart . . . any desire to undermine this court?” By an ironic twist, however, the undermining is done by Danforth himself, when he violates due process by ordering the summary arrest of certain petitioners or by depriving Proctor and Mary of all legal counsel.

In the final scene in jail, Proctor achieves heroic stature when he decides that his life is worth less than his duty to the truth. His claim to personal happiness is less important than the truth that the whole community—and history—needs, and he overcomes his previous, somewhat contrived flaw (adulterous lust). Because of Proctor’s act, Arthur Miller implies in an epilogue to the printed play entitled “Echoes down the Corridor,” “the power of theocracy in Massachusetts was broken.”

"The Crucible - Themes and Meanings" Comprehensive Guide to Drama Ed. Christian H. Moe., Inc. 1990 28 Feb. 2023 <>

Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 962

Politics In the early 1950s, hearings at Senator Joseph McCarthy's powerful House Un-American Activities Committee had decided that the American Communist Party, a legal political party, was compromising the security of the nation by encouraging connections with Russia (America's ally during the Second World War but its enemy afterwards). Those who were sympathetic to the communist cause, or those who had connections with Russia, were summoned before the committee to explain their involvement, recant their beliefs, and name their former friends and associates in the communist cause. Miller himself had to attend a Senate hearing in 1957. He admitted that he had been to communist meetings—of writers—but refused to name anyone else. He denied having been a member of the Party and was eventually found guilty of contempt.

The McCarthy Committee's antagonism of innocent (and in most cases harmless) citizens—and politically-motivated persecution in general—is explored in The Crucible through the subject of witchcraft. Particularly, through the dramatization of events which took place in Salem, Massachusetts, in the seventeenth century. The town's hysteria at the beginning of the play has a direct parallel in the frenzy that communist "witch-hunting" caused in America in the 1950s. Further, John Proctor's trial, confession (obtained through antagonism and threats), and ultimate recantation conjures a scene similar to the ones that were played out in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee. By having his protagonist take a stand for his beliefs and his personal integrity, Miller displays a clear sympathy for those persecuted in McCarthy's inquisition. The playwright's message is one of personal and political freedom for every citizen.

The Crucible also examines political persecution as a tool for deflecting attention away from difficult problem areas. McCarthy's persecution of communist sympathizers did little to strengthen the fiber of American life (quite conversely, it added unwelcome suspicion and paranoia to many people's lives). To many, however, his actions made McCarthy look like an avenging hero for capitalism and diverted the American public's attention away from very real problems such as race and gender inequities. The investigators in Miller's play act in a very similar manner: They refuse to face the idea that their strict way of life may have led several young women to rebel (by, for example, dancing around a fire in the woods). Instead they blame the wayward girls' actions on the Devil and witchcraft. With this action they bond the community together in a battle against an outside evil that has corrupted their town. Unfortunately, in much the same way that McCarthy's persecution ultimately unraveled many American communities, the Salem Witch Trials end up destroying a way of life in the village.

Morals and Morality The issues which The Crucible raises have general moral relevance, as well as being related directly to the situation in America at the time the play was written. As Dennis Welland has noted in his Arthur Miller, the play's moral is similar to those often found in the works of George Bernard Shaw (Pygmalion, Major Barbara). Shaw's morals often contend that wrong-headed actions—such as the witch trials—are often motivated by a lack of personal responsibility rather than based upon deliberate cruelty or malice. That is, rather than take a stand against proceedings they suspect are unjust, the townspeople of Salem go along with the trials. Welland stated: "That is why Elizabeth quietly rejects as 'the Devil's argument' Hale's impassioned plea to her to help Proctor save himself . . . Elizabeth, like [George Bernard] Shaw's St Joan [in his play of that name], has learnt through suffering that 'God's most precious gift is not rife at any price, but the life of spiritual freedom and moral integrity.' In Proctor's final recantation of his confession and his refusal to put his principles aside to save his life, we see the triumph of personal integrity in a world of moral uncertainty."

Society Paralleling Miller's exploration of individual morality is his portrayal of society's response to events within its community. In the girls' initial accusations and the frenzy that ensues, Miller demonstrates how peer pressure can lead individuals into taking part in actions which they know are wrong. And in the community's reaction to these accusations, he shows how easily stories can be taken out of context—and how people are blamed for crimes they haven't committed. Miller links the mass hysteria of Salem to the community's excessive religious zeal and very strict attitudes towards sex. Sexual relationships and other instances of physical expression seem on the surface to be repressed and the fact that the girls fear being whipped for dancing and singing suggests the strict codes of behavior under which they live.

Yet the town is not without its sexual scandal: Abigail and John Proctor's adulterous relationship is very much in the foreground of the play and is a factor in the unfolding of the tragic events. It may be that Miller is suggesting that such strict religious codes lead to the repression of feelings which eventually escape and find expression in forbidden forms of behavior. The mass hysteria of the young girls could be seen as an outbreak of sexual feelings and fantasies which have long been repressed.

Nicholas Hytner ( The Madness of King George ), the director of the 1996 film adaptation of The Crucible (for which Miller wrote the screenplay) pointed out this element when he noted in his introduction to the Penguin edition of the screenplay that "a community that denies to its young any outlet for the expression of sexuality is asking for trouble." Through the events of the play, Miller seems to be warning against excessive religious (as well as political) fanaticism by showing the potential outbursts of feelings—and the disastrous results—which can occur if all forms of sexual expression are repressed.

"The Crucible - Themes" Drama for Students Vol. 3. Gale Cengage 28 Feb. 2023 <>

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The Crucible-Theme- 5-Paragraph

“Even the Good can be Twisted” “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. ” ( Dr. Seuss) “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. ” (Psalm 23:4) “God has given you one face, and you make yourself another. ” (William Shakespeare) These quotes, found throughout many different time periods of history, all say the same: “Be who you are and don’t let anything change that. ” These are great words to live by, but, in time of weakness, does one stay true?

Can even the good be twisted? This is a theme that is represented throughout The Crucible many times. Characters such as Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor, and Reverend Hale had good intentions or morals in the beginning but were soon marred by protecting a lover, temptation, or the questioning of all that one stood on. To begin, Elizabeth Proctor was twisted in a way that was out of love for her husband and his keeping safe. In the beginning, Elizabeth was a character that was known for never lying. She was a woman of Salem that could do no wrong and loved her husband abundantly.

Soon, though, her incorruption was challenged when she was brought to court to prove her husband’s innocence. Instead of telling the truth, she lied about the affair that John had previously confessed about. Thinking what was best, detrimental to herself or not, Elizabeth broke the one thing that made her consistent. She chose hurting her own conscience and fate over seeing her husband be punished for a crime he actually committed. As a result of this, Elizabeth’s whole character was altered, changing from a purely good woman to a liar.

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Simultaneously, John Proctor’s character was distorted in many ways. Even before the play began, John had broken his own moral code by having an affair with Abigail Williams. This went against, not just the rules of the church, but his own personal beliefs and everything he lived by. This caused John to have internal conflict throughout the entire play, making him guilt-ridden. This contention was only to him until he openly stated it in court to prove his wife’s innocence from witchcraft. It was a moot point though, because Elizabeth did the same thing for him, damning him to be ried for taking part in black magic. Only in the end did John Proctor feel any forgiveness towards himself. In his mind, he deserved the punishment he was going to endure and wasn’t going condemn anyone else in the process. All in all, John was a noble man but, warped by temptation, was made a man of slander. Furthermore, Reverend Hale was pushed to change also. Hale came into Salem a stranger, but knew how to fix the problem the town endured. He never questioned that God had a plan and always thought that something was either good or bad, with no gray area in between.

This thinking is challenged when Elizabeth, a pure person, is accused and then later when John confesses. He knows that these people are honest and leaves the court for a period of time. In the end, Hale is a desperate man, and even though knowing there is no witchcraft present, he urges John to admit that he is not the one that should be punished. He has to question all the rules he has lived by his whole life and pursue something he knows is incorrect. In essence, Reverend Hale is pushed to his limits and is turned into a man that will be permanently in suspicion of any standards he ever thought were true.

In the end, as a reader, one is challenged to think, if put in that situation, if he or she would falter from what is right. If one would, knowing that is against every precedent and moral one owns, be brought away from all that is good and change? This play shows this theme various times throughout that the good, like Elizabeth, John, and Hale, would be changed when brought up against acting out of love, lust, and doing what is right. The Crucible is continuously asking the reader, “Can even the good be twisted? ”

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