Home > Free Essays > Literature > Plays > “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller: Play Analysis

“The Crucible” by Arthur Miller: Play Analysis Report

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Mar 27th, 2022

Summary of The Crucible

The Crucible is a must-read fascinating chef-d’oeuvre authored by Arthur Miller, a renowned playwright from America, which dramatizes the way witch-hunting and witch trials took place at Salem, Massachusetts, in the year 1692 through 1693. The play opens with a multitude of girls enjoying a dancing exercise in the forest with a slave named Tituba only for one among them to experience an unconsciousness-like situation when the dancing is in progress.

Villagers gather with every one referring this as a sign of witchcraft that leads to seeking of an intervention from a witchcraft professional-a reverend. The scenario calls for the need to investigate the villagers on issues pertaining to witchcraft, a take that finds many of them victims of the evil doing ready to be judged. As the victims are questioned, majority refuse to admit or rather confess of the evil doing.

However, one of them falsely confesses thus finalizing the witch trials by the judges. This drama was performed on the first time at Martin Beck Theater in 1953 before it was reviewed and later won the best play award in the same year (Wilmeth and Bigsby 415). However, as fascinating as it seems, the masterpiece has strengths and flaws that are evident upon making a keen analysis of the play.

For instance, Miller does not directly use real characters from the community that he depicts in the play. This creativity in developing new characters to fit perfectly in a certain role is strength of this play. The author also uses metaphorical language to bring out themes and characters. For instance, since he knows the repercussion of making errors, he warns people not to attempt repeating any of the misapprehensions he had done earlier on (Miller 132).

This is a literary strength. Another source of strength in the play is the use of a similar colloquialism. Although the play is written after more than half a century from when the community settled in America from Britain, the author can regulate his language. The author depicts it as one community united by language that was ready to live in peace. He says, “This will set us to arguing again in the society, and we thought to have peace this year” (26).

Conventionally, these people could have a variety of dialects after such a period on a foreign land. The title of the play is another source of strength. Characters with above-the-notch character are able to win through even when they are just about to be killed, for example, Rebecca, Nurse, and John proctor. This is seen as symbolism that they refused to melt just as a crucible does when heated.

According to Miller, these characters choose this dangerous path to have a fulfillment of a life worth of their principles. However, there are some weaknesses in this play. First, the plot of the play is untrue to the actual historical age of the events. A wide disparity between the actual period when the event of witch-hunting happened in America and the period that the playwright depicts. The event of witch-hunting happened in 1692 through 1693 at the Bay of Massachusetts.

The play is then written later like an allegory resulting from McCarthyism after the government of the United States convicts a communist in 1956. Miller is also accused by the United States’ congress of being an anti-American when he refuses to acknowledge the presence of other congressional representatives in his meetings.

The author refers him as one of the horrible people ever to live. However, he also recognizes him a normal being just like the rest. He cannot however ignore to tell other people to be wary of him (Miller 21). The other weakness in this play is that the setting is especially restricted. This follows because most scenes occur in rooms and in the court only. This limits the readers’ outlook of the play as a whole. This also depicts that the author may have deliberately omitted some important parts of the play as he tried to narrow down the sceneries.

Major Themes

There are various major themes in this play. These include the theme of fear, individuality, and reputation. The theme of fear is brought out clearly in the play. Human beings fear everything that they cannot understand. They see what is not familiar to them as a source of threat. In Salem, many people are subjected to hanging after being convicted with the sin of witchcraft. The Americans also persecuted their fellow compatriots who were convicted of embracing communism in the fear of their country being colonized by the Soviet Union.

In The Crucible, the people of Salem feared that their land would be overwhelmed by evil spirits if they allowed witchcraft to take roots in their country. This fear develops into hysteria, anxiety, and even paranoia. Fear spreads from one individual to the other at a very speedy rate. For example, Miller says, “The witch-hunt was a perverse manifestation of the panic which set in among all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater individual freedom” (6).

The author is convincing in his demonstration of this theme. He gives relevant examples. For example, Betty says that she had seen Martha Bellow in the company of the devil. This makes Abigail to begin accusing the people from town. She also accuses Sibber. Because fear is hysterical, other young girls also begin making similar accusations. From this point, everybody in Salem becomes very fearful of witches or even the impact of others accusing them as witches.

People are unsurprisingly apprehensive of the indefinite things. Therefore, these examples are convincing. The theme of individuality is also depicted in this play. The government of Salem suppresses the minority and supports individuality. In fact, Miller courageously addresses the issue of individuality when he openly refers the act of considering other people as equals as one that is out of date.

He only points out the effect of this, as revealed by the inhabitants of Salem. As such, he urges people to mind their own issues in a bid to curb the current insanity that people have (Miller 4). The playwright is convincing in his depiction of this theme because he persistently use various characters to expound it through examples.

For example, John Proctor and Elizabeth try to push for individual considerations. However, the Salem community does not have a place for what is not communal. In addition, Elizabeth tries to convince her accusers that there is nothing like witchcraft. According to her, since witchcraft is like powers that are fighting others, the winner must be the one who has powers that can overcome those of witchcraft.

She counts herself among the winners, as she is ready to demonstrate the reverse of what people believe about it (Miller 26). John Proctor also takes an individualistic stand to denounce the behavior of girls. The play pushes all the characters towards conformity to the society besides admonishing individuality. The other major theme is the theme of reputation. The villagers did not believe in having their names soiled.

For example, “These people had no ritual for the washing away of sins” (Miller 19). Several characters in the play take certain actions in order to safeguard their reputation. For example, Abigail is seen dancing. Parris worries of his status. He interrogates her. This stands when Abigail defends herself based on her reputation in the village that people view her as worth emulating character (Miller 24). The author is convincing in developing this theme since he clearly uses examples to bring it into perspective.

Author’s Motive

The author’s motive of writing this book was to demonstrate the social and political ills that the society goes through. The author was a victim of the fight for a capitalist world by America. He was even questioned by the American congress for not recognizing the congress members in some of his meetings.

This provoked him to write about the evils that political fight against individualism, instilling of fear, and the need to safeguard one’s reputation may bring about in the society. He writes that the leadership believed that it was in control of every aspect of the society.

Author’s Larger Political and or Social Agenda

The author’s larger political and social agenda of the play is to portray the challenges that people go through due to fear, individual stands, and defense of their reputation. In the social and political spheres today, people are still fearful of the unknown.

For example, people fear terror threats like the twin attacks in America on September 11, an Al-Qaeda threat led by the late Osama bin Laden. As the media hypes on the plans and the aims of the terrorists to make people hysterical, the governments of the world would organize for more surveillance, security checks, and armed follow up on the terrorists.

This act is similar to what was happening at Salem when people feared what would happen next if the evil spirits engulfed their land. To curb this fear, the people of Salem believed in the execution of witches and even the suspects of the witchcraft. Another sociopolitical agenda that the author depicts is the world struggles to locate the stability of freedom and order. The minority movements and groups are still being persecuted in the lines of being abnormal, for example, gays, lesbians, atheists, and even catholic priests that want to marry.

He advocates for obedience besides which people must suffer the consequences of their misconducts (Miller 30). In other regimes, governments under dictators are forcing their citizens to stay calm by not expressing any opinion via demonstrations, association, or even through the press. This seems similar to what was happening to Salem where majority were right with the government enforcing the execution of authority according to the rulings of the court.

The Larger Social Message

The larger social message that the author wanted to send to the world via this play was that reputation and individualism are important in a dynamic society. Today, every celebrity in music, athletics, and even other games spend a lot of money in securing defense for their reputation.

Politicians are also working very hard to have a good reputation. Leaders without a good individual principle and reputation have found themselves at a compromising situation. For example, president Richard Nixon of the United States was impeached due to bad reputation and poor principles when relating to women. Everyone wants to have a good reputation in the community, family, at work, and even at school.

Why the Author Chose the Writing Style

The author chose to write this play to demonstrate the way hysteria, suppression of individual motives, and defense of status can destroy the society today. Just like Salem, people are still enslaved by fear. For example, the whole world lives in the fear of terrorism. Individuals work hard to suppress others in competition especially the minority tribes and sexual oriented people.

Miller declares witch-hunting activity as a working way that got hold of virtually everybody in a bid to demonstrate that they are all wicked and ones who have left the ways of the supreme being to follow the desires of their hearts. In other words, no one can uplift him/herself in the name of being perfect (Miller 7).

The Author: His Place in Today’s Political Spectrum

In conclusion, in today’s political spectrum, the author would be classified as a strong advocate of democracy. This holds because his work has a great relevancy to what the society is going through politically. For example, the author seems to advocate for individualism and the freedom of self-expression. He says, “The witch-hunt was a perverse manifestation of the panic, which set in among all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater individual freedom” (Miller 6).

The author shows that every person should have certain principles that he/she should hold even at the point of death. This means that, if a leader is clean, he/she should be incorruptible by any political evils like power, money, and positions. The author would also be seen as an advocate of political integrity. This follows because many leaders in the political scenes today have failed the reputation test.

Works Cited

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin, 1995. Print.

Wilmeth, Don, and Ellen Bigsby. The Cambridge History of American Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. Print.

This report on “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller: Play Analysis was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Report sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2022, March 27). "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller: Play Analysis. https://ivypanda.com/essays/in-millers-mind/


IvyPanda. (2022, March 27). "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller: Play Analysis. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/in-millers-mind/

Work Cited

""The Crucible" by Arthur Miller: Play Analysis." IvyPanda, 27 Mar. 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/in-millers-mind/.

1. IvyPanda. ""The Crucible" by Arthur Miller: Play Analysis." March 27, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/in-millers-mind/.


IvyPanda. ""The Crucible" by Arthur Miller: Play Analysis." March 27, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/in-millers-mind/.


IvyPanda. 2022. ""The Crucible" by Arthur Miller: Play Analysis." March 27, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/in-millers-mind/.


IvyPanda. (2022) '"The Crucible" by Arthur Miller: Play Analysis'. 27 March.

Powered by CiteTotal, best citation generator
More related papers