The Crucible


Important Quotations

1. “They believed, in short, that they held in their steady hands the candle that would light the world.” (Act One) This quotation is from Miller’s long introduction at the beginning of the play. Though these are words not spoken in the actual play, this note from the author is critical, particularly in establishing the parallel between the Salem of 1692 and the Washington of the 1950s. In both cases, prominent leaders believed that they were protecting a society and way of life that was not just good, but could be a model for the rest of the world. The metaphor of the candle is telling, as it implies a darkness threatening the light. When one thinks of one’s mission as defending the light of the world, it is easy to justify extreme measures.

2. There are wheels within wheels in this village, and fires within fires!” (Act One) Ann Putnam’s statement—spoken in reference to what is, in her mind, the unsolved murder of her seven dead newborns—captures in vivid language the paranoid and conspiratorial mindset that allows a witch-hunt to take root. She is eager to see in the smallest things signs of some hidden evil plot.

3. “We cannot look to superstition in this. The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone...” (Act One) Though later events show his approach to be anything but scientific, Reverend Hale at first comes across as a deliberate man who approaches things with a methodical and objective mind. Part of the method of any collective madness is to dress up superstition as science.

4. “We must all love each other now, Goody Proctor.” (Act Two) These touching and ironic words are spoken by Mary Warren after she has returned to the Proctors from a full day in Salem at the witch trials, and show her to be an important emotional center of the story....

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Essays About The Crucible