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The Crucible

The Crucible

Overview
The Crucible is a 1952 play by the American playwright Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller
Arthur Asher Miller was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include plays such as All My Sons , Death of a Salesman , The Crucible , and A View from the Bridge .Miller was often in the public eye,...

. It is a dramatization of the Salem witch trials
Salem witch trials
The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings before county court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in the counties of Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex in colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693...

 that took place in the Province of Massachusetts Bay
Province of Massachusetts Bay
The Province of Massachusetts Bay was a crown colony in North America. It was chartered on October 7, 1691 by William and Mary, the joint monarchs of the kingdoms of England and Scotland...

 during 1692 and 1693. Miller wrote the play as an allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 of McCarthyism
McCarthyism
McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by...

, when the US government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 blacklist
Blacklist
A blacklist is a list or register of entities who, for one reason or another, are being denied a particular privilege, service, mobility, access or recognition. As a verb, to blacklist can mean to deny someone work in a particular field, or to ostracize a person from a certain social circle...

ed accused communists. Miller himself was questioned by the House of Representatives'
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 Committee on Un-American Activities
House Un-American Activities Committee
The House Committee on Un-American Activities or House Un-American Activities Committee was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives. In 1969, the House changed the committee's name to "House Committee on Internal Security"...

 in 1956 and convicted of "contempt of Congress" for refusing to identify others present at meetings he had attended. It was first performed at the Martin Beck Theater on Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 on January 22, 1953.
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Encyclopedia
The Crucible is a 1952 play by the American playwright Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller
Arthur Asher Miller was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include plays such as All My Sons , Death of a Salesman , The Crucible , and A View from the Bridge .Miller was often in the public eye,...

. It is a dramatization of the Salem witch trials
Salem witch trials
The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings before county court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in the counties of Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex in colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693...

 that took place in the Province of Massachusetts Bay
Province of Massachusetts Bay
The Province of Massachusetts Bay was a crown colony in North America. It was chartered on October 7, 1691 by William and Mary, the joint monarchs of the kingdoms of England and Scotland...

 during 1692 and 1693. Miller wrote the play as an allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 of McCarthyism
McCarthyism
McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by...

, when the US government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

 blacklist
Blacklist
A blacklist is a list or register of entities who, for one reason or another, are being denied a particular privilege, service, mobility, access or recognition. As a verb, to blacklist can mean to deny someone work in a particular field, or to ostracize a person from a certain social circle...

ed accused communists. Miller himself was questioned by the House of Representatives'
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 Committee on Un-American Activities
House Un-American Activities Committee
The House Committee on Un-American Activities or House Un-American Activities Committee was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives. In 1969, the House changed the committee's name to "House Committee on Internal Security"...

 in 1956 and convicted of "contempt of Congress" for refusing to identify others present at meetings he had attended. It was first performed at the Martin Beck Theater on Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 on January 22, 1953. Miller felt that this production was too stylized and cold and the reviews for it were largely hostile (although The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

noted "a powerful play [in a] driving performance"). Nonetheless, the production won the 1953 "Best Play" Tony Award
Tony Award
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as a Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway...

. A year later a new production succeeded and the play became a classic. Today it is studied in high schools and universities because of its status as a revolutionary work of theatre and for its allegorical relationship to testimony given before the Committee On Un-American Activities during the 1950s. It is a central work in the canon of American drama.

Act one


Rev. Parris
Samuel Parris
Samuel Parris was the Puritan minister in Salem, Massachusetts during the Salem witch trials; he was also the father of one of the afflicted girls, and the uncle of another.-Life:...

 is praying over his daughter, Betty Parris
Betty Parris
Elizabeth "Betty" Parris was one of the accusers during the Salem witch trials. In the winter of 1691–1692, Betty, the nine-year-old daughter of the Salem, Massachusetts' Reverend Samuel Parris and his wife Elizabeth, was the first to claim illness due to being "bewitched"...

, who lies as if unconscious in her bed. Conversations between Rev. Parris, his niece Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams was one of the initial accusers in the Salem witch trials of 1692, which led to the arrest and imprisonment of over 150 innocent people.-Salem Witch trials:...

 and several other girls reveal that the girls, including Abigail and Betty, were engaged in heretical activities in a nearby forest, apparently led by Tituba
Tituba
Tituba was a 17th-century slave belonging to Samuel Parris of Salem, Massachusetts. Tituba was one of the first three people accused of practicing witchcraft during the Salem witch trials which took place in 1692. Tituba was the first person accused by Betty Parris and Abigail Williams of...

, Parris's slave from Barbados. Parris had discovered them, whereupon Betty fainted and has not yet recovered. The townspeople do not know exactly what the girls were up to, but there are rumors of witchcraft
Witchcraft
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

.

John Proctor
John Proctor
John Proctor was a farmer in 17th century Massachusetts. He married three women in his life, and divorced the first two. The last one he married was Elizabeth Proctor, who gave birth to two children, William and Sarah...

 enters the room in which Betty lies in bed, and Abigail, otherwise alone, tries to seduce him. It does not work, but it is revealed that Abigail and Proctor engaged in a previous affair and that Abigail still has feelings for him.

Reverend John Hale is summoned from Beverly to look upon Betty and research the incident. He is a self-proclaimed expert in occult phenomena and is eager to use his acquired learning. He questions Abigail, who accuses Tituba of being a witch. Tituba, afraid of being hanged and threatened with beating, professes faith in God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 and accuses Goodwives Sarah Good and Osborn of witchcraft. Betty, now awake, claims to have been bewitched and also professes her faith in God. Betty and Abigail sing out a list of people whom they claim to have seen with the Devil.

Act two


Elizabeth questions Proctor to find out if he is late for dinner because of a visit to Salem
Salem, Massachusetts
Salem is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 40,407 at the 2000 census. It and Lawrence are the county seats of Essex County...

. She tells him that their housemaid, Mary Warren
Mary Warren
Mary Ann Warren was the oldest of the accusers during the 1692 Salem witch trials, in her teens. She was a servant for John and Elizabeth Proctor. Renouncing her claims after being threatened to be hanged, she was later arrested for practicing witchcraft herself, but did not confess...

, has been there all day. Having forbidden Mary from going to Salem, Proctor becomes angry, but Elizabeth explains that Mary has been named an official of the court.

Elizabeth tells Proctor that he must reveal that Abigail is a fake. He declares that he cannot prove what she told him because they were alone when they talked. Elizabeth becomes upset because he has not previously mentioned this time alone with Abigail. Proctor believes that she is accusing him of resuming his affair with Abigail. An argument then ensues between the two.

Mary returns, and Proctor is furious that she has been in Salem all day. However, she advises that she will be gone every day because of her duties as an official of the court. Mary gives Elizabeth a poppet
Poppet
The word poppet is an older spelling of puppet, from the Middle English popet, meaning a small child or doll. In British Dialect it continues to hold this meaning. Poppet is also a chiefly English term of endearment.-Folk magic:...

 that she made while in court, tells the couple that thirty-nine people are now in jail, and that Goody Osborne
Sarah Osborne
Sarah Osborne was one of the first three women to be accused of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials of 1692...

 [sic] will hang for her failure to confess to witchcraft. Proctor is angry because he believes the court is condemning people without solid evidence. Mary states that Elizabeth has also been accused, but, as she herself defended her, the court dismissed the accusation.

Elizabeth tells Proctor that she believes Abigail will accuse her of witchcraft and have her executed because she wants to become Proctor's wife. Elizabeth asks Proctor to speak to Abigail and tell her that no chance exists of him marrying her if anything happens to his wife.

Reverend Hale visits the Proctor house and tells Elizabeth and Proctor that the former has been named in court. Hale questions Proctor about his poor church attendance and asks him to recite the Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

. When Proctor gets stuck on the tenth, Elizabeth reminds him of the commandment forbidding adultery.

Proctor tells Hale that Abigail has admitted to him that witchcraft was not responsible for the children's ailments. Hale asks Proctor to testify in court and then questions Elizabeth to find out if she believes in witches. Giles Corey
Giles Corey
Giles Corey was a prosperous farmer and full member of the church in early colonial America who died under judicial torture during the Salem witch trials. Corey refused to enter a plea, and was crushed to death by stone weights in an attempt to force him to do so...

 and Francis Nurse arrive and tell Proctor, Hale and Elizabeth that the court has arrested both of their wives for witchcraft.

Ezekiel Cheever and Willard/Herrick arrive with a warrant for Elizabeth's arrest. Cheever discovers the poppet that Mary made for Elizabeth, with a needle inside it. Cheever tells Proctor and Hale that, after apparently being stabbed with a needle while eating at Parris' house, Abigail accused Elizabeth's spirit of stabbing her. Mary tells Hale that she made the doll in court that day and stored the needle inside it. She also states that Abigail saw this because she sat next to her. The men still take Elizabeth into custody, and Hale, Corey and Nurse leave.

Proctor tells Mary that she must testify in court against Abigail. Mary replies that she fears doing this because Abigail and the others will turn against her.

Additional scene


In the original production of the play, there was an additional scene in the second act. It has been removed from most subsequent productions, but is added as an appendix in many written book forms of the play:

In the woods, Proctor meets with Abigail. She again tries to seduce him, but he pushes her away, informing her that she must stop all accusations against his wife. They argue, and Abigail asks him how he intends to prove that what she is saying is false. He informs her that he fully intends to admit to their affair in court if necessary, and the scene ends with Abigail saying, "I will save you tomorrow... from yourself I will save you."

Act three


Judge Hathorne
John Hathorne
John Hathorne was an executor in the Salem witch trials, and the only one who never repented of his actions. He was also a merchant in Salem, Massachusetts....

 (offstage) is in the midst of questioning Martha Corey
Martha Corey
Martha Corey was accused of being a witch during the 1692 Salem witch trials.The community was surprised to see Corey accused, as she was known for her piety and dedicated church attendance. However, she had never shown support for the witch trials, since she did not believe witches existed...

 on accusations of witchcraft, during which her husband, Giles, interrupts the court proceedings and declares that Thomas Putnam
Thomas Putnam
Thomas Putnam was a participant in the Salem witch trials. He was the son of Lt. Thomas Putnam and Ann Holyoke . He was also a nephew of Elizur Holyoke and great uncle of General Israel Putnam....

 is "reaching out for land!" Giles is removed from the courtroom and taken to the vestry
Vestry
A vestry is a room in or attached to a church or synagogue in which the vestments, vessels, records, etc., are kept , and in which the clergy and choir robe or don their vestments for divine service....

 room by Willard/Herrick.

Judge Hathorne enters and angrily asks: "How dare you come roarin' into this court, are you gone daft, Corey?". Giles Corey replies that since Hathorne isn't a Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 Judge yet, he has no right to ask him that question. Deputy Governor Danforth
Thomas Danforth
Thomas Danforth was a judge for the 1692 Salem witch trials in early colonial America.-Early life:He was born in Framlingham, Suffolk, England as the eldest son of Nicholas Danforth and Elizabeth Symmes...

, Cheever, Reverend Parris and Francis Nurse enter the vestry room. Corey explains that he owns 600 acres (2.4 km²) of land and a large quantity of timber, both of which Putnam had been eyeing. Corey also states that the court is holding his wife Martha by mistake saying he had only said Martha was reading books, but he never accused her of witchcraft.

Danforth soon thereafter takes utter control of the situation, and denies others in the court even a modicum of power. John Proctor enters with Mary Warren, promising to clear up any doubts regarding the girls if his wife is freed from custody. Danforth orders the girls into the vestry. Reverend Parris is skeptical, pointing out that the girls fainted, screamed, and turned cold before the accused, which they see as proof of the spirits. Mary tells them that she believed at first to have seen the spirits, however she knows now that there aren't any.

In an attempt to discredit Mary, Abigail and the other girls begin to scream and cry out that they are freezing. When Abigail calls to God, Proctor accuses her of being a whore and tells the court of their affair. Abigail denies it and the court has Elizabeth brought in to verify if Proctor is telling the truth. Not knowing that he had already confessed, Elizabeth lies and denies any knowledge of the affair. When Proctor continues to insist that the affair took place, the girls begin to pretend to see a yellow bird sent by Mary to attack them. To save herself from being accused of witchcraft, Mary tells the court that Proctor was in league with the devil and forced her to testify. Proctor is arrested for witchcraft, and Reverend Hale storms out of the court, shouting "I denounce these proceedings!"

Act four


Proctor is chained to a jail wall, totally isolated from the outside. Reverend Parris begins to panic because John was liked by many in the village (as were Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse
Rebecca Nurse
Rebecca Towne Nurse was executed for witchcraft by the government of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England in 1692, during the Salem witch trials. She was the wife of Francis Nurse, with several children and grandchildren, and a well-respected member of the community...

, who are also to be hanged), and he explains his fears to Hathorne, Danforth and Cheever. He also reveals that Abigail and Mercy Lewis (one of the "afflicted" girls) stole 31 pounds (about half his yearly salary) and boarded a ship in the night.

Hale enters, now a broken man who spends all his time with the prisoners, praying with them and advising prisoners to confess to witchcraft so that they can live. The authorities send Elizabeth to John, telling her to try to convince Proctor to confess to being a witch. When Proctor and Elizabeth are alone, she forgives him and reaffirms their love. Elizabeth tells of Giles Corey being pressed to death.

John chooses to confess in exchange for his life and calls out to Hathorne, who is almost overjoyed to hear such news. Proctor signs the confession, then tears it up when realizing that Danforth is going to nail the signed confession to the church (which Proctor fears will ruin his name and the names of other Salemites). Proctor, Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey are led to the gallows to hang.

Characters (in order of appearance)


Reverend Samuel Parris
Samuel Parris
Samuel Parris was the Puritan minister in Salem, Massachusetts during the Salem witch trials; he was also the father of one of the afflicted girls, and the uncle of another.-Life:...

: Parris is the minister of Salem's church, disliked by many residents because of his greedy, domineering personality. He is more concerned about his reputation than the well-being of his sick daughter Betty. He is also less concerned about his missing niece, Abigail Williams, than for the lives of the dead and condemned on his conscience and the money taken. His niece and daughter were the first to accuse others of witchcraft and he owned the slave, Tituba; the first to be accused of witchcraft.

Tituba
Tituba
Tituba was a 17th-century slave belonging to Samuel Parris of Salem, Massachusetts. Tituba was one of the first three people accused of practicing witchcraft during the Salem witch trials which took place in 1692. Tituba was the first person accused by Betty Parris and Abigail Williams of...

: Tituba is Reverend Parris's slave. Parris seems to have owned and purchased her in Barbados back in his time as a merchant. She cares for the children and prepares a potion for Abigail that will kill Elizabeth Proctor. Additionally, she attempts to raise the spirits of Ann Putnam's dead children. During the first scene of the play, she is turned in by Abigail and responds by claiming that four women in Salem are witches. She is not seen again until the final scene of the play taking place in the jail. By this point the events have troubled her to the point that she is haunted by hallucinations and hysteria - Both she and Sarah Good are driven mad, and are not mentally well.

Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams was one of the initial accusers in the Salem witch trials of 1692, which led to the arrest and imprisonment of over 150 innocent people.-Salem Witch trials:...

: Williams is Parris' 17-year-old niece and the play's antagonist
Antagonist
An antagonist is a character, group of characters, or institution, that represents the opposition against which the protagonist must contend...

. Abigail was previously the maid for the Proctor house, fired by Elizabeth after her discovery of Abigail's affair with her husband, John. Abigail and her uncle's slave, Tituba, lead the local girls in love-spell rituals in the Salem forest over a fire. Rumors of witchcraft fly, and Abigail tries to use the town's fear to her advantage. She accuses many of witchcraft, starting first with the society's outcasts and gradually moving up to respected members of the community. Finally, she accuses Elizabeth Proctor, believing that John truly loves her and not Elizabeth. Abigail wants Elizabeth out of the way so that she and John can marry. John says that Abigail "hopes to dance with me upon my wife's grave." She is manipulative and charismatic, attacking anyone who stands in her way. She flees Salem during the trials and, according to legend, becomes a prostitute in Boston.

Ann Putnam: Ann Putnam is the wife of Thomas Putnam. She has one daughter, Ruth, but has had seven miscarriages. Ann is accusatory and harsh to many, but also very hurt by the deaths of her babies.

Thomas Putnam
Thomas Putnam
Thomas Putnam was a participant in the Salem witch trials. He was the son of Lt. Thomas Putnam and Ann Holyoke . He was also a nephew of Elizur Holyoke and great uncle of General Israel Putnam....

: Thomas Putnam lives in Salem village and owns a bit of land close to Giles Corey. Giles accuses him of trying to steal it, and says that Putnam got his daughter to accuse Giles' wife of witchcraft. This possibility is strongly supported by the play, and thus Putnam is one of the play's true villains because of his resentments toward others and tendency to use it to advance himself.

Betty Parris
Betty Parris
Elizabeth "Betty" Parris was one of the accusers during the Salem witch trials. In the winter of 1691–1692, Betty, the nine-year-old daughter of the Salem, Massachusetts' Reverend Samuel Parris and his wife Elizabeth, was the first to claim illness due to being "bewitched"...

: Elizabeth "Betty" Parris is the ten-year-old daughter of Reverend Samuel Parris and is the first to become ill after being "bewitched". She accuses Abigail of drinking blood to kill Elizabeth Proctor.

Mercy Lewis
Mercy Lewis
-Brief Overview:Mercy Lewis was born in Falmouth, Maine in 1675 and was a servant in Thomas Putnam’s household. She is also one of the featured characters in Arthur Miller's play The Crucible...

: Servant to the Putnams and one of the girls caught in the woods with Abigail and Betty by Reverend Parris. She is described as being "a fat, sly, merciless girl of eighteen." She and the other girls browbeat Mary Warren into silence about what she saw in the woods in Act I. In Act III, she and the other girls claim to be under the influence of Mary Warren's spirit, which causes them to see and feel various phenomena. She escapes Salem with Abigail.

Mary Warren
Mary Warren
Mary Ann Warren was the oldest of the accusers during the 1692 Salem witch trials, in her teens. She was a servant for John and Elizabeth Proctor. Renouncing her claims after being threatened to be hanged, she was later arrested for practicing witchcraft herself, but did not confess...

: Mary Warren serves as housemaid for the Proctors after Abigail Williams. She is a lonely girl who considers herself an "official of the court" at the beginning of the trials. John Proctor is shown to sometimes abuse her and hit her with a whip. She nearly confesses that she and the other girls were lying about witchcraft until the other girls pretend that she is sending out her spirit to them in the courtroom. This event, which could have led to her death, propels her to accuse John Proctor of witchcraft, stating that he forced her to lie about herself and the others.

John Proctor
John Proctor
John Proctor was a farmer in 17th century Massachusetts. He married three women in his life, and divorced the first two. The last one he married was Elizabeth Proctor, who gave birth to two children, William and Sarah...

: John Proctor is a down-to-earth, forthright farmer and the play's protagonist
Protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

. He has a sexual relationship with Abigail Williams while she is a servant at his farm. Although he speaks his mind and stands up to Parris, he has no wish to be a martyr and he is careful about what he says when he senses real danger. He does show courage and boldness in his opposition to Parris and Putnam and he fiercely resists the arrest of his wife. Proctor is cautious when it comes to denouncing Abigail, particularly when his wife, claiming to be pregnant, is not in immediate danger. However, he feels he owes it to his accused friends to expose Abigail as a liar. He works hard to build a defense for those accused and manages to persuade Mary Warren to tell the truth, but this success is short-lived. As a last resort, he suffers the public shame of confessing to his adultery with Abigail to no avail. In prison, he eventually confesses so that he can live with and care for his family, but finally he decides to die rather than lose his good name and admit to witchcraft; he thus refuses to sign the paper. He does this for the sake of his children's reputation and because Elizabeth and others have refused to confess. He will not deny himself. He has doubted his ability to be a good man so far, but with Elizabeth's example and support he realizes he can be true to himself and accept death.

Giles Corey
Giles Corey
Giles Corey was a prosperous farmer and full member of the church in early colonial America who died under judicial torture during the Salem witch trials. Corey refused to enter a plea, and was crushed to death by stone weights in an attempt to force him to do so...

: Giles is a friend of John Proctor who is very concerned about his (Corey's) land. He believes Thomas Putnam is trying to take it and that of other people by convincing the girls to accuse Giles' wife of witchcraft. Giles gains this information from an anonymous man whom he will not name, as he knows that the man would be put in prison if he did. He is subjected to being pressed by stones when he refuses to plea "aye or nay" to the charge of witchcraft. The character of Giles Corey is based on a real person. Giles' wife, Martha, is executed because of the witchcraft accusations. It is unusual for persons to refuse to plead, and extremely rare to find reports of persons who have been able to endure this painful form of death in silence, as explained in the following quote from Elizabeth Proctor
Elizabeth Proctor
Elizabeth Proctor was accused of witchcraft in the Salem Witch Trials. She was the third wife of John Proctor, and remarried after his execution. Part of her life was fictitiously dramatized as part of Arthur Miller's play The Crucible and later adaptations.-Early life:Elizabeth was the daughter...

:
"He were not hanged. He would not answer yes or no to his indictment; for if he denied the charge they'd hang him surely, and auction out his property. So he stand mute, and died Christian under the law. And so his sons will have his farm. It is the law, for he could not be condemned a wizard without he answer the indictment, aye or nay."

From this it is obvious of Giles' reason for holding out so long against so much pain: As long as he did not answer yes or no, his children would be able to keep his estate. Whether this was for his children's sake or to spite Thomas Putnam's greedy obsession with buying up land is arguable. The play supports both possibilities.


Rebecca Nurse
Rebecca Nurse
Rebecca Towne Nurse was executed for witchcraft by the government of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England in 1692, during the Salem witch trials. She was the wife of Francis Nurse, with several children and grandchildren, and a well-respected member of the community...

: Rebecca Nurse, wife of Francis Nurse, is highly respected in Salem for her helpful nature. Very firm in her opinions, and willing to make any sacrifice in the cause of truth, she voices her opposition to the idea of witchcraft. Near the end, she is accused of being a witch on the prompting of the Putnams, who are jealous of her good fortune.

Reverend John Hale: Hale is a well-respected minister reputed to be an expert on witchcraft. Reverend Hale is called in to Salem to examine the witchcraft trials and Parris's daughter Betty, who has fallen into a mysterious illness after being discovered participating in the suspect rituals. He originally believes that there are witches in Salem and advocates the trials, but later realizes the widespread corruption and abuse of the trials, and struggles to convince accused "witches" to lie by confessing and live, rather than to tell the truth and die.

Elizabeth Proctor
Elizabeth Proctor
Elizabeth Proctor was accused of witchcraft in the Salem Witch Trials. She was the third wife of John Proctor, and remarried after his execution. Part of her life was fictitiously dramatized as part of Arthur Miller's play The Crucible and later adaptations.-Early life:Elizabeth was the daughter...

: John Proctor's wife, and a resident of Salem. She is accused of witchcraft, and is only saved from death due to the fact that she is pregnant. Abigail hates her for being Proctor's wife, and for keeping Proctor's heart. By the end of the play she feels that Proctor's affair is due to her own faults, much to Proctor's dismay. By the end Elizabeth chooses not to save John's life and allows him to hang saying she would not take away his goodness.

Ezekiel Cheever: An astute yet weak character; his most important appearance is in the Proctor household where he denounces Elizabeth Proctor
Elizabeth Proctor
Elizabeth Proctor was accused of witchcraft in the Salem Witch Trials. She was the third wife of John Proctor, and remarried after his execution. Part of her life was fictitiously dramatized as part of Arthur Miller's play The Crucible and later adaptations.-Early life:Elizabeth was the daughter...

 for witchcraft
Witchcraft
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

, regarding the poppet
Poppet
The word poppet is an older spelling of puppet, from the Middle English popet, meaning a small child or doll. In British Dialect it continues to hold this meaning. Poppet is also a chiefly English term of endearment.-Folk magic:...

 (doll) which was placed in the Proctor house to make it appear that Elizabeth was practicing witchcraft against Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams was one of the initial accusers in the Salem witch trials of 1692, which led to the arrest and imprisonment of over 150 innocent people.-Salem Witch trials:...

. His reason is clouded by the authority of Salem for whom he works. He used to be friends with John Proctor, but when the accusations started, he quickly turned against his friends and their family who were accused of witchcraft. He tells Danforth that Proctor sometimes plows on Sundays and that Proctor missed church often. He acts as a scribe in Act 2 of The Crucible, and in some interpretations of the play, he hangs Proctor. The character is based on the actual son (with the same name) of Ezekiel Cheever
Ezekiel Cheever
Ezekiel Cheever was a schoolmaster, and the author of "probably the earliest American school book", Accidence, A Short Introduction to the Latin Tongue...

, the famous schoolmaster and author of Accidence: A Short Introduction to the Latin Tongue.

George Herrick
George Herrick
George Herrick was the "Marshal" for the Court of Oyer and Terminer during the Salem Witch Trials. There is no firm evidence that George Herrick was connected with constable Joseph Herrick although George and Henry were referred to as "kinsmen" by Sidney Perley in the History of Salem. Apparently,...

/John Willard
John Willard
John Willard, born no later than 1672, was one of the people executed for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, during the Salem witch trials of 1692. He was hanged on Gallows Hill on August 19. At the time of the first allegations of witchcraft Willard was serving as a constable in the village of...

: Herrick was the Marshal
Marshal
Marshal , is a word used in several official titles of various branches of society. The word is an ancient loan word from Old French, cf...

 of Salem and in the play is responsible for bringing the defendants before the court. He is a sympathetic character, advising Deputy Governor Danforth of Proctor's good character and becoming friendly with the accused witches that he guards. Some productions name the character John Willard, a reference to constable
Constable
A constable is a person holding a particular office, most commonly in law enforcement. The office of constable can vary significantly in different jurisdictions.-Etymology:...

 John Willard
John Willard
John Willard, born no later than 1672, was one of the people executed for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, during the Salem witch trials of 1692. He was hanged on Gallows Hill on August 19. At the time of the first allegations of witchcraft Willard was serving as a constable in the village of...

 who came to disbelieve the allegations and refused to make any further arrests. He himself was then arrested, charged with witchcraft and hanged.

Judge John Hathorne
John Hathorne
John Hathorne was an executor in the Salem witch trials, and the only one who never repented of his actions. He was also a merchant in Salem, Massachusetts....

: The sadistic presiding judge over the Salem Witch Trials
Salem witch trials
The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings before county court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in the counties of Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex in colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693...

. Cold, ignorant, antagonistic, he constantly denies any new developments regarding the events in Salem Village. Hathorne and Danforth can, arguably, be considered the true villains of the play, besides Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams was one of the initial accusers in the Salem witch trials of 1692, which led to the arrest and imprisonment of over 150 innocent people.-Salem Witch trials:...

 and her inner circle. Hathorne could also be considered the "hangin' judge" of the era, wishing only to see people suffer. His only real moment of emotion in the play occurs in the final scene, where he appears almost joyful that Proctor considers confessing for a crime he didn't commit, this going along with his sadistic streak.

Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth
Thomas Danforth
Thomas Danforth was a judge for the 1692 Salem witch trials in early colonial America.-Early life:He was born in Framlingham, Suffolk, England as the eldest son of Nicholas Danforth and Elizabeth Symmes...

 : Mister Danforth is a pretentious and selfish judge, who is extremely loyal to the rules and regulations of his position. Public opinion and his acute adherence to the law are most important to him. He seems to secretly know that the witch trials in Salem are all a lie yet will not release any of the prisoners because he is afraid of being viewed as weak and having his theocratic reputation undermined. When Proctor knowingly defies his authority by refusing to lie and sign a public confession saying that he is guilty of witchcraft and accusing others, Danforth immediately sentences him to hang along with the other prisoners including Rebecca Nurse.

1953 Broadway cast


Original 1953 Broadway Cast:


Arthur Kennedy
Arthur Kennedy (actor)
Arthur Kennedy was an American stage and film actor known for his versatility in supporting film roles and his ability to create "an exceptional honesty and naturalness on stage" especially in the original casts of Arthur Miller plays on Broadway.- Early life and education :Kennedy was born John...

…John Proctor

Walter Hampden
Walter Hampden
Walter Hampden is the artist name of Walter Hampden Dougherty was a U.S. actor and theatre manager. He was the younger brother of the American painter Paul Dougherty ....

…Deputy-Governor Danforth

E. G. Marshall
E. G. Marshall
E. G. Marshall was an American actor, best known for his television roles as the lawyer Lawrence Preston on The Defenders in the 1960s, and as neurosurgeon David Craig on The Bold Ones: The New Doctors in the 1970s...

…Reverend Hale

Beatrice Straight
Beatrice Straight
Beatrice Whitney Straight was an American theatre, film, and television actress. Hers remains the shortest acting performance in a film to win an Oscar. In her winning role in the 1976 film Network, she was on screen for five minutes and forty seconds, the shortest time ever for the winner of the...

…Elizabeth Proctor

Jean Adair
Jean Adair
Jean Adair was a Canadian actress.Born as Violet McNaughton, she worked primarily on stage but also made several film appearances late in her career, most notably as one of Cary Grant's dotty old aunts in Arsenic and Old Lace, a role she originated on Broadway...

…Rebecca Nurse

Fred Stewart…Reverend Parris

Joseph Sweeney…Giles Corey

Madeleine Sherwood
Madeleine Sherwood
Madeleine Sherwood is a Canadian actress of stage, film and television. She is widely known for her portrayals of Mae/Sister Woman and Miss Lucy in both the Broadway and film versions of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Sweet Bird of Youth...

…Abigail Williams

Philip Coolidge…Judge Hathorne

Raymond Bramley…Mr. Putnam

Jenny Egan…Mary Warren

Janet Alexander…Betty Parris

Jacqueline Andre…Tituba

Adele Fortin…Sarah Good

Jane Hoffman…Ann Putnam

Dorothy Jolliffe…Mercy Lewis

Donald Marye…Hopkins

Don McHenry…Cheever

George Mitchell…Willard

Barbara Stanton…Susanna Wallcott

Graham Velsey…Francis Nurse

2002 Broadway revival


2002 Broadway revival cast:


Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson
Liam John Neeson, OBE is an Irish actor who has been nominated for an Oscar, a BAFTA and three Golden Globe Awards.He has starred in a number of notable roles including Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List, Michael Collins in Michael Collins, Peyton Westlake in Darkman, Jean Valjean in Les...

…John Proctor

Laura Linney
Laura Linney
Laura Leggett Linney is an American actress of film, television, and theatre. Linney has won three Emmy Awards, two Golden Globes, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. She has been nominated for three times for an Academy Award and once for a BAFTA Award...

…Elizabeth Proctor

Brian Murray…Deputy-Governor Danforth

John Benjamin Hickey
John Benjamin Hickey
John Benjamin Hickey is an American actor with a career in stage, film and television. He won the 2011 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for his performance as Felix Turner in The Normal Heart....

…Reverend John Hale

Christopher Evan Welch…Reverend Parris

Angela Bettis
Angela Bettis
Angela Marie Bettis is an American actress, film producer and director best known for her lead roles in the 2002 TV remake of the Stephen King film Carrie, the title character in May , and in Girl, Interrupted as the anorexic girl Janet Webber.-Early life:Bettis was born in Austin, Texas to Mary...

…Abigail Williams

Tom Aldredge
Tom Aldredge
Thomas Ernest "Tom" Aldredge was an American television, film and stage actor.-Life and career:Aldredge was born in Dayton, Ohio, the son of Lucienne Juliet and W. J. Aldredge, a colonel in the United States Army Air Corps...

…Giles Corey

Stephen Lee Anderson…Hopkins

Kristen Bell
Kristen Bell
Kristen Anne Bell is an American actress. Although her first film role was an uncredited appearance in Polish Wedding, Bell previously acted in stage and musical productions. In 2001, she made her Broadway debut as Becky Thatcher in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer...

…Susanna Wallcott

Laura Breckenridge…Girl in Courtroom

Jennifer Carpenter
Jennifer Carpenter
Jennifer Leann Carpenter is an American actress, known for her portrayal of Emily Rose in The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Debra Morgan on Dexter, and the lead role in the 2008 horror movie Quarantine.-Early life:...

…Mary Warren

Betsy Hogg…Betty Parris

JR Horne…Judge Hathorne

Patrice Johnson…Tituba

Sevrin Anne Mason…Mercy Lewis

Paul O'Brien…Thomas Putnam

Jeanna Paulsen…Ann Putnam

Frank Raiter…Francis Nurse

Dale Soules…Sarah Good/voice of Martha Corey

Helen Stenborg…Rebecca Nurse

Henry Stram…Ezekiel Cheever

Jack Willis…Marshal Herrick

Historical accuracy


In creating a work for the stage, Miller made no attempt to represent the real, historical people on whom his characters are based: he developed them to meet the needs of the play. The surviving records offer little evidence about their personalities on which a playwright might draw. Miller fused several people into one character: for example, the judges "Hathorne" and "Danforth" are representative of several judges in the case and the number of young girls involved was similarly reduced. Abigail's age was increased from 11 to 17 to allow a relationship with Proctor, for which there is no historical evidence. Most of the historical roles, however, are accurately represented and the judicial sentences pronounced on the characters are mostly the same as those given to their real-life counterparts.

The action of the play takes place seventy years after the community arrived as settlers from Britain. The people on whom the characters are based would have retained strong regional dialects from their home country. Miller give all his characters the same colloquialisms, such as "Goody" for good wife, and drew on the rhythms and speech patterns of the King James Bible to achieve the effect of historical perspective he wanted.

Title


The word crucible is a pun. It refers simultaneously to the severe struggles faced by the inhabitants of Salem, as well as to the mixing of religious and secular aspects of society during the trial.

Adaptations


The play was adapted for film twice, by Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was a French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy, particularly Marxism, and was one of the key figures in literary...

 as the 1957 film Les Sorcières de Salem
Les Sorcières de Salem
This article is about the 1957 film. For the film by Nicholas Hytner, see The Crucible .The Crucible is a 1957 joint Franco-East German film production directed by Raymond Rouleau with a screenplay adapted by Jean-Paul Sartre from the 1953 play The Crucible, by Arthur Miller.-Plot:1692, Salem,...

and by Miller himself as the 1996 film The Crucible, the latter with a cast including Paul Scofield
Paul Scofield
David Paul Scofield, CH, CBE , better known as Paul Scofield, was an English actor of stage and screen...

, Daniel Day-Lewis
Daniel Day-Lewis
Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is an English actor with both British and Irish citizenship. His portrayals of Christy Brown in My Left Foot and Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood won Academy and BAFTA Awards for Best Actor, and Screen Actors Guild as well as Golden Globe Awards for the latter...

 and Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder is an American actress. She made her film debut in the 1986 film Lucas. Ryder's first significant role came in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice as a goth teenager, which won her critical and commercial recognition...

. Miller's adaptation earned him an Academy Award
Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay
The Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. It is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source...

 nomination for Best Screenplay based on Previously Produced Material, his only nomination.

The play has been presented several times on television. One notable 1967 production starred George C. Scott
George C. Scott
George Campbell Scott was an American stage and film actor, director and producer. He was best known for his stage work, as well as his portrayal of General George S. Patton in the film Patton, and as General Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick's Dr...

 as John Proctor
John Proctor
John Proctor was a farmer in 17th century Massachusetts. He married three women in his life, and divorced the first two. The last one he married was Elizabeth Proctor, who gave birth to two children, William and Sarah...

, Colleen Dewhurst
Colleen Dewhurst
Colleen Rose Dewhurst was a Canadian-American actress known for a while as "the Queen of Off-Broadway." In her autobiography, Dewhurst wrote: "I had moved so quickly from one Off-Broadway production to the next that I was known, at one point, as the 'Queen of Off-Broadway'...

 (Scott's wife at the time) as Elizabeth Proctor
Elizabeth Proctor
Elizabeth Proctor was accused of witchcraft in the Salem Witch Trials. She was the third wife of John Proctor, and remarried after his execution. Part of her life was fictitiously dramatized as part of Arthur Miller's play The Crucible and later adaptations.-Early life:Elizabeth was the daughter...

, and Tuesday Weld
Tuesday Weld
Tuesday Weld is an American actress.Weld began her acting career as a child, and progressed to more mature roles during the late 1950s. She won a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Female Newcomer in 1960...

 as Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams was one of the initial accusers in the Salem witch trials of 1692, which led to the arrest and imprisonment of over 150 innocent people.-Salem Witch trials:...

. The RSC stage production seen in London's West End in 2006 was recorded for the V&A Theatre & Performance Department's National Video Archive of Performance
National video archive of performance
The National Video Archive of Performance is a film and video archive in London, England which holds recordings of stage performances.In 1992 the Theatre Museum, a branch museum of the Victoria & Albert Museum, began recording stage performance in the United Kingdom...

.

The play was adapted by composer Robert Ward into an opera, The Crucible
The Crucible (opera)
The Crucible is an English language opera written by Robert Ward based on the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller. It won both the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Music and the New York Music Critics Circle Citation. The libretto was lightly adapted from Miller's text by Bernard Stambler.Ward received a...

, which was first performed in 1961 and received the Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

.

Sources


  • Abbotson, Susan C. W. 2005. Masterpieces of 20th-century American Drama. Westport, CT: Greenwood. ISBN 0313332231.
  • Atkinson, Brooks. 1953. Review of The Crucible. New York Times January 23, 1953. Available online.
  • Blakesley, Maureen. 1992. The Crucible, a Play in Four Acts. Heinemann Plays ser. Oxford: Heinemann. ISBN 0435232819.
  • Bloom, Harold
    Harold Bloom
    Harold Bloom is an American writer and literary critic, and is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. He is known for his defense of 19th-century Romantic poets, his unique and controversial theories of poetic influence, and his prodigious literary output, particularly for a literary...

    . 2008. Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Chelsea House. ISBN 978-0791098288.
  • Loftus, Joseph A. 1953. "Miller Convicted in Contempt Case." New York Times June 2, 1957. Available online.
  • Miller, Arthur. 1992. "A Note on the Historical Accuracy of the Play." In Blakesley (1992, xvii).
  • Ram, Atma. 1988. Perspectives on Arthur Miller. Abhinav. ISBN 978-8170172406.
  • Roudané, Matthew, ed. 1987. Conversations with Arthur Miller. Jackson, MS: UP of Mississippi. ISBN 978-0878053230.
  • Wilmeth, Don B. and C. W. E. Bigsby, eds. 1998. The Cambridge History of American Theatre. Vol. 3. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. ISBN 978-0521679855.


External links