Meaning and Symbolism in the Crucible by Arthur Miller

Topics: Salem witch trials, The Crucible, John Proctor Pages: 6 (2328 words) Published: June 5, 2008
Crucible Meaning Essay
Crucible, a noun defined as; a container of metal or refractory material employed for heating substances to high temperatures, in the traditional sense but, it also means a severe, searching test or trial. The latter of the two definitions is exactly what Arthur Miller had in mind when he wrote the play, The Crucible. The play set in Salem Massachusetts during the start of the infamous Salem Witch Trials, is about the struggle to discover truth within the twisted and brutal lies flying about the little town, started mainly by a young girl by the name of Abigail Williams. Abigail Williams, as we quickly come to know, is the past mistress of the prominent Mr. John Proctor, a local farmer. As the tension rises in the little town, secrets are spilt and accusations run rampant out of the mouth of the young girl and her, also young, cohorts. It becomes easy to see the significance of the crucible within the story. The significance of the title in Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible is that the persecution towards the people who were being accused of witchcraft were put through both literal and theoretical fires, just as metal and ores are put into a crucible to melt such as; when Goody Proctor was accused of witchcraft, when Abigail was brought on trial, and when John Proctor’s affair was brought to the publics eye. A severe, searching test or trial

First, the significance of the title The Crucible is when the deceitful young Abigail Williams accused Goody Proctor of witchcraft. This scenario shows the meaning of the crucible in the play because Goody Proctor was put through the theoretical fires of trial for witchcraft. Goody Proctor had to face the lying and deception of young Abigail Williams and her gaggle of young followers, who were too afraid to try and correct the wrong that Abigail had done, who all in all was trying only to preserve herself. Elizabeth is put through the ringer with vigorous test after test, accusation after accusation, having to repeat her self indefinitely. Soon after the accusations begin to arise, Mary Warren is called into the room to make the matter clearer and bring Elizabeth Proctors innocence complete. When Mary Warren is called forward she tells Reverend Parris as well as John Proctor that she, herself, made the doll during her long day in court and that she stuck the needle in the doll just above the stomach for safe keeping, not Elizabeth Proctor, as had been the accusation of young Abigail Williams. Mary had told the reverend prior to the meeting that “I want to open myself! . . . I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!” She also told that later after she had made the doll, came home, back to the Proctor residence, and gave the doll to Elizabeth forgetting all about the fact that she had placed the needle inside the little rag doll. Abigail Williams, and the other young girls that were in the court that day, were called into the room to clarify as to whether or not Mary Warren had actually been the one to put the needle in the doll or whether it was in fact Goody Proctor who did the bewitching with the doll. When faced with this accusation of lying Abigail abruptly started to act terrified as to say that the specter of Mary Warren was flying around in the rafters like that of a crow and was lurching and swooping as if determining when to strike and try to kill the girls. They acted as though entranced. The young girls’ faces went solemn and cold. This melodramatic piece of The Crucible makes my point to the “t”. Goody Proctor was put into a “crucible” of sorts when she was put on trial for witchcraft and the flames and heat may not have been literal at the time but they would all eventually lead to her betrayal and eventual death. Lying was not a...
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