The Crucible by Arthur Miller
"Societies often tend to suppress individual freedom in order to
maintain social order"
'Examine the key characters and their beliefs in The Crucible in the
light of this statement'
A crucible is a vessel in which metals are heated, melted down and
purified. The play 'The Crucible', by Arthur Miller shows a community,
which ignites and burns with the accusations of witchcraft, mass
hysteria and retribution.
Set in the small town of Salem Massachusetts in 1692, it explores the
struggle of one man with his conscience and his eventual purification.
A fictional play based on McCarthyism, a dark chapter in American
history. Miller uses 'The Crucible' as a mirror to reflect his views
on the anti-communist hysteria inspired by Senator Joseph McCarthy's
"witch hunts" in the U.S. Reissue. By using the historical and
controversial issue of the Salem Witch Trials, Arthur Miller's play
presents an allegory for the events in modern-day America. It exploits
these past events to criticize the moments in humankind's history when
reason and fact became clouded by unreasonable fears and the desire to
put the blame for societies dilemmas on others.
The phoney witch hysteria in Salem deteriorated the sensible, and
emotional stability of its citizens. Therefore exploiting the
population's weakest qualities and insecurities. This obvious collapse
in social order led to the tragedy, which saw twenty innocent people
hung on the allegation of witchcraft. A strict social system, fear and
confusion were apparent conditions that became prevalent before and
during the witch trials. However only contributing to the tragedy in
Salem. This strict society in use at the time had a negative effect on
the main character, John Proctor.
John Proctor is a strong and important character in the play. A hard
working farmer who was occasionally absent from Sunday Mass, due to
the fact that he had to tend to his crops. Also he did not agree with
the appointment of Mr Parris as the new minister and so did not have
his last child baptized. With the latest obsession of witchery and
accusations it is not hard to see why Proctor was easily indicted of
being in league with the devil by the testimony of his servant Marry
Warren. The court accepted the declaration -despite her in the past
having committed perjury- because she was a church going person.
However towards the end of Act three he does admit that he is a lecher
and he claims that he is capable of seeing the devil. He says, "God is
dead" since God does not appear to be assisting the people through
this crisis. What urged Proctor to go to court in the first place was
his wife, Elizabeth. When she heard that Rebecca Nurse, a religious
woman who does not even believe in witchcraft, had been arrested for