Changing Characters in "The Crucible"

The Crucible

about "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller

The word "crucible" has three meanings. One being "a vessel of very refractory material (as porcelain) used for melting and calcining a substance that requires a high degree of heat," another being a severe test. The third definition is "a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development." The third meaning most directly applies to the Crucible and especially to some of its characters. The citizens of Salem are influenced by a witch scare into accusing their neighbors of witchcraft. For most characters this means no great change, but for some, this means great changes in their lives. Abigail is one of the people who's life isn't greatly affected in a harmful way. But, on the contrary, Reverend Hale and John Proctor come to great realizations and changes in their lives.

In the beginning of the play, John Proctor is a strong-willed respected man in Salem. In his presence "a fool felt his foolishness instantly" (pg. 20), showing the power that he has over others. Proof of his strong will was demonstrated during the first interlude seen between him and Abigail. She was trying to seduce him, but he put his foot down, and told her that anything that had ever happened between them was over. He was brutally honest with her; "Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut off my hand before I'll ever reach for you again. Wipe it out of mind. We never touched, Abby" (pg. 23). But by the end of the play, his once strong, respectable presence is almost completely broken. At one brief point, he actually gives up everything he had stood for throughout the play (dignity, honesty, truth, self-worth). He confesses to witchcraft to save his life; a crime that of course he never commited. "DANFORTH: Now, then, Mister, will you speak slowly, and directly to the point, for Mr. Cheever's sake. ... Did you see the Devil? ... Did he bid you do his work upon the earth?...
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