Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics
By Abhishek Saluja, Courier Book Editor
The Crucible by Arthur Miller is set in a theocracy during the 1690’s in Salem, Massachusetts.
Arthur Miller’s play highlights one of society’s rather ridiculous accusations on the innocent, that of accusing someone of being a witch.
A preacher by trade Reverend Parris finds his daughter along with her friend and his slave Tituba dancing in a forest. Then it follows that his daughter falls extremely ill and her father suspects that witchcraft is somehow responsible for the ordeal.
After applying much pressure Parris and a fellow Reverend of his, Reverend Hale, force Tituba and Abigail to confess to practicing witchcraft, and Parris’ daughter confesses as well. The three then proceed and accuse many of the other women of Salem, and the whole town is thrown into confusion and panic.
Abigail the leader of the three girls starts to take advantage of having been accused, she starts to name innocent women of being witches and conspiring with the devil, and the three girls’ immense power in the trials begins to overwhelm the simple town folk.
The play features individual families such as the Proctor family. One of the Proctors Elizabeth Proctor is charged of being a witch and is therefore arrested. John Proctor vows to contest the charges against his wife.
Many of the intelligent citizens of Salem know that the three girls are lying about other women being witches and desire to provide evidence to this fact in the court hearings.
Abigail’s accusations in the hearings are contested fiercely by John Proctor, however he is unable to completely prove his point and his claims are dismissed by the judge. The incident concludes in John being accused of practicing witchcraft and denouncing the judicial system.
John Proctor is a married man but in the past he had been unfaithful to his wife with Abigail and bringing up the incident in court did not help his cause. His wife Elizabeth is asked to testify to the claim but refuses to throw dirt on her husband in fear of bringing shame on to the family name, and in this way Abigail escapes and continues her accusations.
The play is set in the 1690’s and during this time witch trials were rather common and anyone who was accused could do little to save their lives.
Reverend Hale desperately attempts to save those who are accused, he encourages John to confess but John is too proud and chooses death over dishonor.
The play does not end on a happy note and it portrays society in a horrible way, innocent lives are claimed without gain. Arthur Miller succeeds in illustrating the havoc such trials would have caused in a town.
The Crucible reads well, but should not be read by those seeking happy conclusions to a joyful story.