Themes in The Crucible
In the crucible Arthur Miller takes the chilling story of the Salem
witch hunt in 1692 and combines it with the issues of McCarthyism in
the 1950s. The play reflects Miller’s ideas and opinions about
McCarthyism and what he thinks are the similarities to the Salem witch
hunts. Proctor is the main character Millers uses to reflect the
unfairness of the Salem and McCarthy trials and how the truth died in
the 1950s. This makes Proctor’s role very dramatic and exciting.
Miller also uses a dramatic licence to make this even more so – adding
the love to Elizabeth and guilt about Abigail gives the story an
The whole nature of Proctor makes him an exciting and complex
character; as a result this makes him entertaining to the audience and
his complexity keeps the audience enthralled throughout the play. His
personality is not boring or simple. He has a quick temper and is
often angry, it seems he can’t control his feelings. “[turning on her,
rifle in hand] I will curse her hotter than the oldest cinder in
hell.” This has the effect of exciting the audience and adds interest
(not to mention tension with this particular line) but this line can
have the effect of making Proctor look like a bad person.
Alternatively it could suggest that Proctor is human and has his
faults, the audience would sympathise with this.
Inside Proctor lacks self confidence, he was shamed when he had an
affair with Abigail. Proctor shows this when he says, “I may blush for
my sin”, this line give the audience the impression that John realises
that the affair was wrong, that is was a sin and he regrets it. It
also implies that he hasn’t forgiven himself for what he did with
Abigail and he still needs to blush for it . This lack in self
confidence is hinted at throughout the play but it seems like he
doesn’t let these feelings out until Act 3 and instead hides them
under his powerful speaking.
The whole theme of Proctor’s affair adds a dramatic twist to the plot.
Affairs are stereotypically exciting and the deceitfulness, lust and
lies that come into play with this particular example make it
especially interesting for the audience. The wrong things done here in
the name of lust have a certain attraction – it is almost
One of the things that makes Proctor such an important character in
the Crucible is the fact that he stands for the truth and fights for
the innocents. His strongest weapon in this fight is his powerful
speaking. His speeches and comments don’t just have an effect on the
other characters in the play but on the audience too. “You are pulling
Heaven down and raising up a whore!” – this is a very strong statement
as Heaven is the symbolises highest good and is a force of God. To
pull it down and so denounce God and place a whore in God’s place is
very dramatic because of the extremes, it’s almost absurd to the Salem
society. Persuasive techniques are even used in...