Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is set in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. It was written from a third-person omniscient point.
Miller’s book details the Salem witch trial. Because the word crucible refers to the word trials, Miller can tie it to the title. Abigail Williams, one main character, avoids confrontation and tries to avoid consequences. She is a constant victim of others’ mistakes, in order to gain from them. Abigail’s story closely links with John Procter’s. John had an affair while Abigail was working for him.
Abigail wanted John’s wife and husband to be split up so that she could have John, so she accused Ms. Procter with witchcraft. John doesn’t want that. He even admitted to adultery at a time when it was considered a serious sin. Although this selfless act might have been motivated by guilt, it was useless in convincing the court that his wife was innocent. Reverend Hale is another key character. Miller describes him in Act 1 as a “tight-skinned and eager-eyed intellectual”. The first voice to question Salem’s witches is Reverend Hale, who Abigail (and her group of women) shroud in their accusations. He eventually realizes that there might not have been a Witch, and John Procter had no deal with the Devil. The story’s biggest external conflict is the trials, which turn neighbors against neighbors. “The witch hunt was, however, not a mere repression.” The witch-hunt was, in fact, an opportunity for everyone to openly confess his sins and guilt under the cover that he was accusing the victims. This is how people used the event to hide their hidden desires and actions. Mary Warren is also a major conflict in the story. She is the girl who claims she saw these spirits. “Abby” is the only one who can tell the truth. Witchery is a hanging error, just like the hangings in
Boston two decades ago! “Abby, we must tell the truth!” John Procter is not without conflict, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s his relationship with Abigail that is his conflict arc. Miller calls him “..a sinner against not only the moral fashions of the time but also against his own visions of good conduct”. John says that there are people who can’t sing and people who can’t weep. His wife cannot lie. Ironically, this is a statement that John makes about his character. Ms. Procter arrives to testify that he had no relations with Abigail. This was actually a lie. Irony appears in this play frequently. Abigail says “…I just can’t stop talking; it is God who does my work.” Ironically, because Abigail makes other girls lie to her under the pseudonym of Gods work. This accusation of witchcraft is a reminder that men are not willing to accept responsibility for their mistakes. Giles, a villager, charges his wife with witchcraft. He claims that “.. I tried so many times, but could not pray. Then she closed her notebook and walked out the door. I was able to pray again. Miller continued to explain that Miller had forgotten to mention that he’d just learned any prayers. It didn’t take long for him to stumble over them. This is a story about how men use witchcraft to make excuses for their own mistakes.
John Procter’s conviction and sentence to death is the climactic moment in a major conflict. There is a theme to be drawn from. One can learn from it: the idea of blame. And that you must bear your own mistakes and not blame someone else. It is important to remember the following quote: “I can’t speak but I am unfaithful, and every moment, I am accused of lying, as if I were in a courtroom when I enter this house.” John and Abigail argue here. This foreshadows the key scene of the future. John actually goes to court and speaks on the subject. Mrs. Putnam says another excellent thing: “There’s wheels within wheels here village, and fires in fires!”. This is a reminder that it is impossible to believe everything you see, and that there is always more to the story than meets your eye.
Reverand HALE adds, “No man must doubt that the dark powers are gathered to attack this village.” It is hard to deny that there is so much evidence. While the village is definitely under attack, Hale does not believe it to be. Salem is under attack by fear and suspicion, not demonic “powers of darkness”. This story triggered mixed emotions in me.
How easy it was for the court believe these girls. It also reflects modern times because it is possible for a criminal to be convinced by just one voice. We as individuals never take responsibility for our actions, even after 326 years. Instead of making others scapegoats or telling stories to kill someone else. It’s a wonderful work of literature.