What is the significance of the title in The Crucible?
The title of The Crucible effectively helps us to understand the play in a deeper and more thorough way as the definitions of the noun ‘crucible’ reflects the themes of the play such as moral, reputation, courage, righteousness, hysteria and truth. It also foreshadows the severe and unjust persecution of the upright characters who hold on to their beliefs and moral values, as the word ‘crucible’ comes from the Latin word ‘crucibulum’, which derives from the word ‘crux’. ‘Crux’ is also the root word of ‘crucifixion’. The first definition of the noun ‘crucible’ is a refractory container which is used for melting metal in a very high temperature or where concentrated forces are asserted to cause change. In The Crucible, the society itself is the ‘crucible’, with the people being accused of witchcraft the contents inside. A homophone for the word ‘metal’ is ‘mettle’. As a crucible melts down the metal, the crucible of society melts down the people’s mettle, i.e. courage, strength and integrity. Fuelled by the fear and hysteria of witchcraft, as well as the greed of some people like the Putnams and the ignorance of the judges, the society becomes more and more fanatical, forcing the innocent people being accused to a point which they cannot withstand but to ‘melt’ and comply by giving a lie to live, even though they try to resist initially, Tituba and Sarah Good are good examples. When Tituba finally confesses, she is described as ‘falls to her knees’, an action that reveals her forced compliance and helplessness. Yet the most significant example is perhaps when Mary turns away from Proctor and accuses him, crying, “I’ll not hang with you.” Her firm tone here reveals her desperation. This shows that although she is willing to tell the truth and be a good person, she cannot withstand the hostility of the situation. As the definition states, it is the concentrated forces that causes Mary to change. When Mary tells...
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