“The Crucible is a 1953 play by Arthur Miller. It is a dramatized and partially fictionalized story of the Salem witch trials that took place in the Province of Massachusetts Bay during 1692 and 1693. ” (1) The basic plot of The Crucible is, “Salem Witch Trials: A group of girls in Salem, Massachusetts, begin to act strangely, and a doctor suggests that they are bewitched. The blame falls on one particular woman, who denies it; she is then arrested for witchcraft. Many other “witches” are arrested based merely on suspicion. (2)
The playwright, Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in order to express his opinion of the Congressional investigations taking place during the McCarthy era. The main theme of The Crucible is revenge because every character has either been wronged by someone else or desires revenge themselves. The tragedy The Crucible begins with Reverend Parris discovering his daughter, Betty all alone in the forest acting strange after spending some time with Abigail, one of the girls from his church.
One by one, his niece and two other girls from the church join Betty until they are all acting strange. The doctor is called in to examine them and he determines that they’ve been given drugs of some kind. The blame immediately falls on Abigail as she was the last person seen with Betty before her odd behavior began. The people begin questioning Abigail and they ask who gave it to her and why she would take something without knowing what it was and discover that several girls have banded together against a slave named Tituba who teaches them voodoo and witchcraft.
The girls claim that Tituba is the one responsible for the drugging incident with the hope of removing suspicion from themselves; however, their plan backfires when they too become suspects in the witch hunt. The girls are questioned, but they refuse to confess despite intense pressure from the town’s people supported by Reverend Parris. The girls are imprisoned for refusing to name names and more people are arrested under suspicion of witchcraft including John Proctor, Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey.
The chain reaction of arrests is initially instigated by Abigail as she was involved in one way or another with all those who were accused; however, once the executions start taking place several characters begin to question her power and control over others (Proctor & Hale). The play ends with nearly everyone dead: Abigail, Proctor and Giles Corey among them leaving only a handful of characters alive at its conclusion (Abigail will be hanged next). The tragedy The Crucible takes place during The Salem Witch Trials and it is widely considered Arthur Miller’s response to The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
The themes of The Crucible include revenge, justice, endurance in the face of adversity and intolerance. Revenge Theme The entire play The Crucible can be explained with one word: Revenge. It never changes from the very beginning when Abigail begins accusing people in order to protect herself or gain revenge on those that have done her wrong. John Proctor was a potential suspect for her because he began questioning her after she killed his baby by smashing its head against a stone floor through witchcraft; however, Rebecca Nurse was an ideal target because she had publicly reprimanded Abigail for her sinful behavior.
The townspeople are encouraged to support the witch hunt by Reverend Parris who wants revenge on his niece Abigail for lying about Betty’s death; even though he had no proof of this lie, he turns her in under the assumption that she was responsible. The trials continue with more and more people turning against each other because of something someone else did to them proving how far people will go when they seek revenge. The results of The Crucible can be described as tragic because everyone involved dies leaving only a few characters alive at the end (Abigail will hang next).
The Crucible also shows the reputations of the citizens before The Salem Witch Trials, during The Salem Witch Trials, The Weeping Time, and after The Weeping Time. The reputation of characters was mainly based upon their religious beliefs at that point in time. Salem is a fictionalized version of the actual trials that occurred between 1692-1693. The play starts with Reverend Parris claiming his daughter has been dancing around in her sleep with other girls. The people take this as an act against The Lord and start accusing young women throughout town for being witches (Arthur Miller).
The entire community gets caught up in paranoia because everyone fears what they do not understand. Many people accuse each other over small misunderstandings or rumors they have heard. The entire community works together to figure out what The Devil is doing with the young girls. The Crucible shows a glimpse of The Weeping Time, a time in which people felt horribly ashamed and embarrassed for being so foolish as to accuse their neighbors over something so trivial. Reverend Hale arrives in town, looking for The Devil.
However, he only finds more hysteria than before (Arthur Miller). The events that follow are ones of loss of power and reputation of many citizens who were either hanged or exiled from the town. The play ends with Abigail Williams crying because she has no where else to go now that she doesn’t have anything left (Arthur Miller). This play was meant to show the audience how people get caught up in a mob mentality which is a scare tactic that The United States government used during The Red Scare.
The Crucible Critical Analysis Essay, Research Paper The Crucible by Arthur Miller tells the fictionalized version of The Salem Witch Trials, but parallels The Cold War and The Red Scare. This play shows the hysteria of The Weeping Time as people fearfully accuse one another of being witches or doing witchcraft. In addition to this, this play touches upon how it is dangerous to make the enemy appear diabolical and not human. The characters’ reputations change throughout the course of The Crucible because they are either accused and hanged as witches or left town with nothing and no where to go (Arthur Miller).
The main theme in The Crucible is reputation, which becomes a crucial component of The Weeping Time. The Salem Witch Trials affect the entire community and The Crucible shows how it can have a lasting effect upon everyone’s lives. The theme of fear comes into play when The Devil is mentioned in The Crucible because all that is heard about The Devil is to fear him greatly (Arthur Miller). In addition to this, people are afraid to talk about what they believe in during The Weeping Time for fear of being accused as witches themselves (Arthur Miller).
In The Crucible, Arthur Miller uses a metaphor with a house falling apart due to no one around to fix it. This metaphor refers to the fall out from The Salem Witch Trails and how it still affects society today (Arthur Miller). The characters were either hanged or exiled from The Crucible’s version of The Salem, Massachusetts. The town is very much run by the church and there is no where else to go once The Weeping Time ends (Arthur Miller). The audience sees Abigail Williams weeping because she has nowhere else to go (Arthur Miller).
The theme of reputation comes up in many ways throughout The Crucible. Reputation is mainly based upon one s religious beliefs at that time. Reverend Hale was seen as a hero for coming into The Salem Witch Trials and hunting down witches; however, he is now viewed with suspicion after what happened during The Weeping Time (Arthur Miller). This means that no matter what someone does, they are still viewed dreadfully because The Weeping Time. The events of The Weeping Time do not go away even with The Crucible’s version of the town hanging The Devil (Arthur Miller).
Finally, The Crucible parallels The Red Scare and The Cold War in a metaphor involving a curtain coming down amongst the audience. This is done so everyone will understand what is going on during The Crucible as it refers to both The Salem Witch Trials and The Red Scare. All throughout The Cold War hearings were being held trying to find communists within society as well as searching for spies from other countries. In addition to this, Arthur Miller wrote this play after Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed as spies for giving atomic secrets to Russia.