The Crucible Study Guide and Summary

Table of Contents


The Crucible Context

Arthur Miller, American playwright
Image via Wikipedia

In the season 1692, in the small Boston town of Salem, a selection of women dropped ill, decreasing sufferer to hallucinations and convulsions. In highly spiritual Puritan New Britain, distressing or stunning situations often credited to the demon or his cohorts. The unfathomable illness stimulated concerns of witchcraft, and it was not long before the women, and then many other people of Salem, started to accuse other villagers of consorting with challenges and launching periods. Old grudges and jealousies built out into the start, developing a climate of hysteria. The Boston administration and judicial system, intensely motivated by faith, thrown into actions. Within a couple months, many individuals were in offender on prices of witchcraft. By time the nausea had run its course, in later May 1692, twenty individuals (and two dogs) had charged and hanged for witchcraft.

More than two decades later, Arthur Burns was blessed in New You are able to Location on July 17, 1915. His job as a playwright started while he was a student at the School of The condition of Michigan. Several of his beginning will work won awards, and during his person season, the Government Theater Job in Detroit carried out one of his will work. He created his first good results, All My Kids, in 1947. Many years later, in 1949, Burns authored Passing of a Sales rep, which won the Pulitzer Reward and developed Burns into a nationwide feeling. Many experts described Passing of a Sales rep as the first good United States loss, and Burns accumulated an associated eminence as a man who recognized the heavy substance of the Joined Claims.

Drawing on analysis on the wizard tests he had carried out while a basic, Burns created The Crucible in the beginning 50’s. Burns authored the have fun with during the brief ascendancy of Senator John McCarthy, a demagogue whose vitriolic anti-Communism proven the kindle desired to move the Joined Claims into a stunning and fractious anti-Communist fervor during these first anxious many a lot of the Freezing War with the Soviet Nation. Led by McCarthy, unique congressional committees carried out highly questionable analysis designed to real out Communist sympathizers in the Joined Claims. As with the believed wizards of Salem, thought Communists were motivated to acknowledge and to recognize other Red sympathizers as means of avoiding treatment. The plan led to a flutter of suggestions. As individuals started to understand that they might be ruined as Communists regardless of their purity, many “cooperated,” seeking to preserve themselves through incorrect confessions, developing the graphic that the Joined Claims was crowded with Communists and perpetuating the hysteria. The generous leisure marketplace, in which Burns labored, was one of the primary focuses on of these “witch tracks,” as their competitors named them. Some cooperated; others, like Burns, declined to give in to pondering. Those who were unveiled, incorrectly or properly, as Communists, and those who declined to incriminate their acquaintances, saw their occupations experience, as they blacklisted from possible work for many years subsequently.

At use of its first operation, in the month of January of 1953, experts and forged as well recognized The Crucible as an immediate strike on McCarthyism (the plan of detecting out Communists). It is short run, in contrast to those of Miller’s other will work, and credited on anti-Communist fervor. When Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were opponent of spying for the Soviets and carried out, the forged and visitors of Miller’s have fun with discovered a second of stop. Still, there are problems with interpretation The Crucible as a demanding allegorical treatment of 50’s McCarthyism. For one thing, there were, as far as one can tell, no real wizards or devil-worshipers in Salem. However, there were certainly Communists in 50’s United States, and many of those who lionized as persons of McCarthyism sometimes, such as the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss (a former State Section official), were later discovered to have been in the pay of the Soviet Nation. Miller’s Communist acquaintances, then, were often less simple than the persons of the Salem wizard tests, like the stalwart Rebecca Doctor or the terrible Bob Proctor.

If Burns took unknowing rights with information of his own era, he also carried out quick and reduce with the famous history. The common describe of activities in The Crucible compares to what occurred in Salem of 1692, but Miller’s character types are often composites. Furthermore, his middle plan device—the matter between Abigail Williams and Bob Proctor—has no grounding in fact (Proctor was over 60 at use of the tests, while Abigail was only eleven). Thus, Miller’s choice to set erectile envy at the real of the hysteria is really a stunning contrivance.

In an odd way, then, The Crucible is best go through outside its famous context—not as the best allegory for anti-Communism, or as a true consideration of the Salem tests, but as a very effective and amazing interpretation of how intolerance and hysteria can meet and split a area apart. In Bob Proctor, Burns gives people a wonderful terrible leading man for any time—a problem number who confirms his significant middle just as everything is decreasing to items around him.

The Crucible Themes, Motifs & Symbols


Lies and Deceit

Most of the character types in The Crucible are relaxing – if not to other persons, then to themselves. Abigail lies about her capability to see people, as do the other girls; Proctor is deceitful first for being unfaithful on his spouse and then for camouflaging it; and the assess and lieutenant governor and ministers lie to themselves and everybody else in saying that they offer the cause of God’s appropriate. The perspective in the tale is that by being truthful (“I am not a witch”), you die, but you also obtain your independence – that is, you keep your location with God, and you become a martyr.



The Crucible set in a theocratic area, in which the religious and the condition are one, and the faith is a demanding, austere type of Protestantism known as Puritanism. Because of the theocratic characteristics of the area, significant laws and regulations and condition laws and regulations are the same: sin and the location of your heart are issues of open worry. There is no place for difference from sociable rules, since any person whose confidential regular life does not comply with the well-known significant laws and regulations signifies an opportunity not only to the open great but also to the procedure of God and actual faith. In Salem, everything and everyone supposed to be to either God or the devil dissent not merely banned, it is associated with satanic task. This dichotomy features as the actual sense behind the wizard tests. As Danforth says in Act III, “a person is either with this court docket or he must be mentioned against it.” The wizard tests are the best appearance of intolerance (and clinging wizards is the best indicates of rejuvenating the community’s purity); the tests company all sociable deviants with the taint of devil-worship and thus require their treatment from the area.


Respect and Reputation

Reputation is very essential in an area where sociable location is associated with their capability to comply with along with spiritual regulations. Your great name is the only way you can get other persons to do enterprise with you or even get a reasonable experiencing. Of course, location recommended nothing when a witchcraft accusation was looking you in the experience. However, it is what designed the Reverend Hale start to uncertainty whether the opponent persons were actually responsible. Reputation had to do with religion: if you were a great and trusted person, you were also a great associate of the religious. Finally yet importantly, it is for the cause of his location and his friends standing that Bob Proctor will not hint an incorrect admission. He would, quite rather die.



Another essential style in The Crucible is the location that hysteria can have fun with in getting apart an area. Hysteria supplants sense and helps persons to believe that their friends, whom they have always regarded as upstanding persons, are spending ridiculous and fantastic crimes—communing with the demon, getting rid of kids, and so on. In The Crucible, the townsfolk take and become effective in the hysterical that you are not only out of actual spiritual piety but also because it gives them an opportunity to show repressed emotions and to act on long-held grudges. The most apparent situation is Abigail, who uses the circumstance to accuse Electronic Proctor of witchcraft and have her sent to offender. However, others blossom on the hysteria as well: Reverend Parris firms his location within the area, as well quickly, by creating scapegoats of people like Proctor whom problem his specialist. The abundant, serious Johnson Putnam results vengeance on Francis Doctor by getting Rebecca, Francis’s virtuous spouse, found responsible of the great killings of Ann Putnam’s kids. In the end, hysteria can blossom only because persons advantage from it. It suspends the regulations of lifestyle and allows the performing out of every dark-colored drive and hateful craving under include of righteousness.


The Supernatural

Salem townsfolk, they see information of God and information of the Devil everywhere. Yet nobody actually encounters people — though the women assert they do. They have fun with creates it distinct that they are performing. Their pretense may be a collection mental sensation, but on the earth as people knows it, if there is a Devil, he is not in Salem: there are only persons – some great, some deceived, some money, some envious, some vengeful, some nasty.





The wizard tests encourage several character types in the have fun with who are in the past marginalized in Salem area. In common, women enjoy the smallest step of male-dominated Salem and have few choices in regular life. They operate as servants for townsmen until they are old enough to wed off and have kids of their own. Moreover, to being thus limited, Abigail is also servant to Bob Proctor’s erectile whims—he pieces away her purity when he commits infidelity with her, and he arouses her spiteful envy when he terminates their matter. Because the Puritans’ best worry is the defiance of God, Abigail’s suggestions of witchcraft and devil-worship quickly control the interest of the court docket. By aiming herself, in the little brown eyes of others, with God’s will, she results energy over area, as do the other ladies in her collection, and her expression becomes essentially unassailable, as do theirs. Tituba, whose location is cheaper than that of anyone else in the have fun with by advantage of the truth that she is dark-colored, is able to also to deflect responsibility from her by blaming others.


Accusations, Confessions, and Legal Proceedings

The wizard tests are middle to the actions of The Crucible, and stunning suggestions and confessions complete the have fun with even beyond the constraints of the court docket. In the first act, even before the hysteria takes place, we see Parris accuse Abigail of dishonoring him, and he then creates a line of suggestions against his parishioners. Giles Corey and Proctor answer in variety, and Putnam soon connects in, developing a refrain of indictments even before Hale comes. The full wizard test program grows on suggestions, the only way that wizards revealed, and confessions, which offer the facts of the appropriate of the court docket actions. Proctor efforts to crack this period with an admission of his own, when he says to the matter with Abigail, but this admission trumped by the accusation of witchcraft against him, which will requirements an admission. Proctor’s brave choice, at the shut of the have fun with, to die rather than acknowledge to a sin that he did not make, lastly fails the period. The court docket fails quickly subsequently, unfastened by the rejection of its persons to grow lies.




The Witch Trials and McCarthyism

There is little importance within The Crucible, but, in its whole, they have fun with can seen as synonymous with the worry about communism that pervaded United States in the 50’s. Several commonalities are available between the Home Un-American Pursuits Committee’s rooting out of thought communists during this some time to the seventeenth-century witch-hunt that Burns signifies in The Crucible, such as the narrow-mindedness, increased energy, and disregard for the persons that define the government’s efforts to press out a recognized sociable ill. Further, as with the believed wizards of Salem, thought Communists were motivated to acknowledge their violations and to “name brands,” determining others considerate to their major cause. Some have belittled Burns for oversimplifying issues, in that while there were (as far as we know) no actual wizards in Salem, there were certainly Communists in 50’s United States. However, one can dispute that Miller’s worry in The Crucible is not with whether the opponent actually are wizards, but rather with the disinclination of the court docket authorities to believe that they are not. In lighting of McCarthyist extravagances, which harmed many innocents, this similar thought powerfully in Miller’s own time.

The Crucible Analysis of Major Characters

The Crucible Research of Significant Characters

John Proctor

In a feeling, The Crucible has the design of an established loss, with Bob Proctor as the play’s dreadful top man. Genuine, straight, and blunt-spoken, Proctor is an excellent man, but one with a technique, dangerous drawback. His lust for Abigail Williams led to their matter (which happens before they have fun with begins), and designed Abigail’s envy of his spouse, Electronic, which models the entire wizard hysteria in movement. Once the tests start, Proctor knows that he can quit Abigail’s Quinton Jackson through Salem but only if he confesses to his infidelity. Such classes would damage his good name, and Proctor is, above all, an excited man who locations good stress on his status. He gradually creates a test, through Kim Warren’s account, to name Abigail as frauds without disclosing the critical details. When this test neglects, he lastly jolts out with a classes, contacting Abigail a “whore” and stating his shame widely. Only then does he understand that it is too later, that issues have gone too far, and that not even the easy fact can crack the highly effective madness that he has granted Abigail to beat up. Proctor’s classes are successful only in creating his charge and sentence as a wizard, and though he lambastes the courtroom and its measures, he is conscious of his dreadful position in enabling this fervor to increase out of hand.

Proctor redeems himself and provides any denunciation of the wizard tests in his remaining act. Available to be able to create open classes of his shame and stay, he almost succumbs, even putting your signature on itemized classes. His great pleasure and worry of open viewpoint motivated him to withhold his infidelity from the courtroom, but by the end of the have, fun with he is more anxious with his private reliability than his open status. He still wants to preserve his name, but for private and spiritual, rather than open, causes. Proctor’s rejection to offer incorrect classes is a real spiritual and private take a position. Such classes would dishonor his other criminals, who are courageous enough to die as account to the easy fact. Perhaps more relevantly, incorrect classes would also dishonor him, staining not just his open status, but also his center. By question to present up his private reliability Proctor implicitly proclaims his sentence that such reliability will take him to paradise. He goes to the gallows used for his in the past sins. As Electronic says to end the have fun with, addressing Hale’s request that she influence Proctor to widely confess: “He have his benefits now. God prohibit I take it from him!”


Abigail Williams

Of the key number types, Abigail is the least complicated. She is clearly the bad person of the have fun with, more so than Parris or Danforth: she shows is, manipulates her acquaintances and the entire area, and gradually delivers twenty easy individuals to their significant. Throughout the hysteria, Abigail’s causes never seem more complicated than easy envy and a wish to have vengeance on Electronic Proctor. The expressions of the have fun with is almost spiritual, and Abigail seems like a spiritual character—a Jezebel number, motivated only by libido and a lust for energy. Nevertheless, it is value going out a few historical past details that, though they never reduce Abigail’s shame create her measures more clear.

Abigail is an orphan and a single girl; she thus uses up a low step on the Puritan Salem sociable steps (the only individuals below her are the slaves, like Tituba, and sociable outcasts). For area in Salem, the reverend and the other men parents are God’s earthly staff, their professional resulting from on substantial. The tests, then, in which the women are granted to act as though they have an immediate relationship to God, encourage the in the past weak Abigail. Once shunned and scorned by the decent townsfolk who had observed speculation of her matter with Bob Proctor, Abigail now confirms that she has energy, and she requires entire edge of it. A pure accusation from one of Abigail’s troop is enough to incarcerate and convict even the most well respected inhabitant of Salem. Whereas others once reproached her for her infidelity, she now has to be able to accuse them of the most detrimental sin of all: devil-worship.


Reverend Hale

John Hale, the mental, naïve witch-hunter, goes into the have fun with in Act I when Parris brings him to study his child, Kim. In a prolonged comments on Hale in Act I, Burns details him as “a tight-skinned, eager-eyed mental. This is a dearest errand for him; on being referred to as here to assess witchcraft he has thought the pleasure of the professional whose exclusive details has at last been widely referred to as for.” Hale goes into in a quantity of task, having significant guides and predicting an air of good details. In the beginning going, he is the energy behind the wizard tests, searching for confessions and stimulating individuals to admit. Over the course of the have fun with, however, he ordeals modify, one more amazing than that of any other number. Enjoying Bob Proctor and Kim Warren, he becomes certain that they, not Abigail, are being truthful. In the climactic world in the courtroom in Act III, he includes his lot in with those the other the wizard tests. In dreadful trend, his about-face comes too late—the tests will in his palms but rather in those of Danforth and the theocracy, which has no desire in seeing its measures revealed as a fraud.

The failing of his efforts to move the hold creates the once-confident Hale a damaged man. As his thinking in witchcraft falters, so does his trust in the law. In Act IV, he counsels the opponent wizards to lie, to acknowledge their designed sins to preserve their own day-to-day lives. In his modify of center and following lose hope, Hale results the audience’s concern but not its regard, since he does not have the significant fiber of Rebecca Doctor or, as it changes out, Bob Proctor. Although Hale knows the nasty of the wizard tests, his effect is not defiance but submit. He demands that success is the best good, even if therefore flexible on your own to injustice—something that the truly courageous number types can never take.

The Crucible Character List

Bob Proctor – A regional character who day-to-day lives just outside town; Electronic Proctor’s man. A firm, harsh-tongued man, Bob cannot stand hypocrisy. Nevertheless, he has a disguised. Sin—his matter with Abigail Williams—that shows his problem. When the hysteria takes place, he hesitates to present Abigail as swindles because he problems that his technique will be unveiled and his great name damaged.

Read an in-depth research of Bob Proctor.

Abigail Williams – Reverend Parris’s relative. Abigail was once the cleaning for the Proctor family, but Electronic Proctor shot her after she uncovered that Abigail was having a matter with her man, Bob Proctor. Abigail is sensible, wily, a great liar, and vindictive when surpassed.

Read an in-depth research of Abigail Williams.

Reverend Bob Hale – A fresh reverend well known to be a specialist on witchcraft. Reverend Hale referred to as in to Salem to analyze Parris’s kid Kim. Hale is a devoted Religious and hater of witchcraft. His essential brain and brains preserve him from decreasing into shades fervor. His introduction models the hysteria in movement, although he later remorse his measures and efforts to preserve the day-to-day lives of those opponent.

Read an in-depth research of Reverend Bob Hale.

Elizabeth Proctor – Bob Proctor’s spouse. Electronic shot Abigail when she uncovered that her man was having a matter with Abigail. Electronic is extremely virtuous, but often freezing.

Reverend Parris – The reverend of Salem’s religious. Reverend Parris is a weird, power-hungry, yet curiously self-pitying number. Many of the townsfolk, especially Bob Proctor, do not like him, and Parris is very anxious with developing his location in the area.

Rebecca Doctor – Francis Nurse’s spouse. Rebecca is a sensible, sensible, and straight person, used in enormous consider by most of the Salem area. However, she drops sufferer to the hysteria when the Putnams accuse her of witchcraft and she will not acknowledge.

Francis Doctor – An abundant, significant man in Salem. Doctor well known by most individuals in Salem, but is an adversary of Johnson Putnam and his spouse.

Judge Danforth – The deputy governor of Boston and the presiding assess at the wizard tests. Genuine and scrupu-lous, at least in his own brain, Danforth is certain that he is doing right in rooting out witchcraft.

Giles Corey – An aged but energetic character in Salem, well known for his habit to submit cases. Giles’s spouse, Martha, is opponent of witchcraft, and he himself gradually used in disregard of courtroom and sent to passing with significant gems.

Thomas Putnam –  A abundant, significant person of Salem, Putnam supports a grudge against Francis Doctor for avoiding Putnam’s brother-in-law from being chosen to the company of reverend. He uses the wizard tests to improve his own success by blaming individuals of witchcraft and then getting up their area.

Ann Putnam – Johnson Putnam’s spouse. Ann Putnam has given beginning to eight kids, but only Ruth Putnam made it. The other seven passed away before they were a day old, and Ann is certain that they killed by great indicates.

Ruth Putnam – The Putnams’ one remaining kid out of eight. Like Kim Parris, Ruth drops into an unusual stupor after Reverend Parris attracts her and the other women moving in the wood in the evening.

Tituba – Reverend Parris’s dark-colored servant from Barbados. Tituba wants to complete voodoo at Abigail’s demand.

Mary Warren – The cleaning in the Proctor family and an associate of Abigail’s number of women. She is a fearful fresh woman, effortlessly motivated by those around her, who tried unsuccessfully to present the hoax and gradually recanted her admission.

Betty Parris – Reverend Parris’s ten-year-old kid. Kim drops into an unusual stupor after Parris attracts her and the other women moving in the do with Tituba. Her disease and that of Ruth Putnam energy the first speculation of witchcraft.

Martha Corey – Giles Corey’s third spouse. Martha’s looking at routines head to her charge and sentence for witchcraft.

Ezekiel Cheever – A man from Salem who functions as worker of the courtroom during the wizard tests. He is straight and established to do his work for legal.

Judge Hathorne – A assess who presides, along with Danforth, over the wizard tests.

Herrick – The marshal of Salem.

Mercy Lewis – One of the women in Abigail’s collection.