The Analysis of “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller

"The Crucible" is a 1953 play written by American playwright Arthur Miller

To date, people have made weaves of essay examples from The Crucible. They enriched themselves in the art of expression through words and demonstration and basked in its beauty. The character analysis essay on The Crucible stems from Arthur Asher Miller’s work, a famous American playwright, essayist, blacklisted writer and controversial figure in the 20th-century. In this study guide, we look to analyze this entire play while informing you of the overall political message, plot and distinctive characters. Having trouble writing your own essay? You can buy essays online!


Summary of the Play Characters

  • Governor Danforth
  • Reverend Parris
  • Betty Parris 
  • Elizabeth
  • John Proctor
  • Abigail William
  • Giles Corey
  • Rebecca Nurse

The analysis of The Crucible by Arthur Miller, begins in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692 during the Salem Witch Trials. It is centered upon the protagonist, Proctor John, who is a well-loved farmer in his town. He was initially in an affair with his servant, Abigail William, and once his wife learned of his infidelity, she proceeded to fire the help. In The Crucible, Abigail’s character is similar to Senator Joseph McCarthy, the biggest practitioner of political McCarthyism. The practice of Senator Joseph McCarthy, in which he accused people of disloyalty, persuades the accused to incriminate friends and associates. Later on, an opening for Abigail to get back at Elizabeth turns the entire town into a chaotic frenzy of neighbor-against-neighbor McCarthyism.

Abigail, Betty, and Tituba meet Reverend Parris

The story begins with a group of girls wandering off into the forest to engage in some dancing. Nothing out of the ordinary. Within their circle, is Abigail, Betty and a black slave, Tituba. As the girls are dancing, they are caught by the local preacher man of Salem, Reverend Parris.

Betty, daughter of Reverend Parris, falls into a state of comatose and this spikes questions amongst the townsfolk. Questions relating to the existence and practices of suspicious acts of witchcraft. Rumours spread throughout the town as word of acts of Darkness threatens the once serene town. For this particular reason, Reverend Hale, an expert of this supernatural, was sent forth.

By now, a crowd had gathered in the home of the minister. While Parris tames them, Abigail has a word with the other girls. She advised them to not succumb to any false stories that may put them on the spot for further questioning and suspicion.

John Proctor speaks with Abigail

John Proctor arrives at the scene and wishes to speak to Abigail in private. Unknown to everyone else, she and Proctor, seven months ago, had engaged in an affair which led to Elizabeth, John’s wife, relieving her of her duties. Time passed, and this particular act of adultery had crept in on their marriage. Elizabeth couldn’t trust her husband and Proctor hadn’t yet forgiven himself. As they speak, Abigail makes seductive advances, but Proctor shoos her off, telling her to end the foolery she and her group are playing.

Betty suddenly awakes in a screaming fit, and this bubbles up the crowd once more as they all rush to her bedroom, arguments of her bewitchment singing into the air. Following, was a different argument between Proctor, problematic Giles Corey, Parris and the well off Thomas Putnam on the topic of money and land deeds.


Elizabeth is accused of witchcraft

Meanwhile, Reverend Hale checks on the distressed Betty and Proctor leaves soon after. The Reverend then leaves Betty to question Abigail about their dealings in the forest as she begins to feel a stirring suspicion. It seemed Hale was getting nowhere with her, so she decided to speak to the slave girl that had accompanied them, Tituba.

As Tituba gets quizzed by She and Parris, she suddenly breaks down in hysterical confessions of communicating with the Devil. She even further accuses members of the town of witchcraft. Abigail joins in, backing her up by agreeing to her revelations also accusing even more people of communing with the Devil. Betty joins as well. This forms an unsettling feeling within the crowd as they all roar in a crazed state of panic and amazement.

About seven days later, John Proctor and Elizabeth are alone in their farmhouse, outside of Salem. They discuss the current state of the town and the ongoing trials and rising number of men and women accused of acts of witchcraft. Soon, their servant, Mary Warren, who was also among the group of girls, arrives with news that Elizabeth Proctor herself has also been falsely accused of witchcraft. However, the court had not yet pursued the accusation. Suddenly, officers arrive to arrest Elizabeth. Proctor is angry and nags on Mary to expose the rest of the group of falsity.


John’s confession

The following day, John Proctor brings Mary Warren to court and tells Judge deputy governor Danforth that she will testify against the girls. Danforth suspects this as a plight to save his wife, so he tells Proctor that Elizabeth’s trial will be delayed since she was with child. Proctor further urges Danforth to allow Mary to testify. She affirms to the court that the girls are lying. The girls arrived and they accused Mary of hexing them. Frustrated, John confesses of his past affair with Abigail. He admitted it was the reason for wrongly accusing his wife.

Danforth brings forth Elizabeth to confirm John’s claims. Elizabeth lies to protect her husband’s honour, telling the court that his unfaithfulness was untrue. In this midst of all this, Abigail and the girls continue to drive the point that Mary is bewitching them. The poor servant later broke down and accused John of witchcraft as well. John rages against her and the entire court, and so he gets arrested.

Summer passes, and autumn dawns on Salem. The ongoing trials have wreaked negativity and chaos amongst nearby towns. Abigail has now run away, taking with her all of Parris’s money. Hale has seemed to give up on the court and begs the accused to confess falsely to rid themselves of awaiting jurisdiction. They all refuse.

Danforth speaks to Elizabeth to convince her husband to confess, and she agrees. Debating, he chooses to accept to save his life. The decision comes with a catch―he had to incriminate others, but he refuses. He is forced into public admission of the accusation, which were the existence of witchcraft and implicating those falsely accused. He retracts his admittance and is taken to the gallows with the others, and the trails conclude.


The End

This persuasive essay on The Crucible focuses on the inconsistencies of the Salem Witch Trials. These trials were believed by the Puritan society to bring social order and the results concerning hidden desires and agendas. Some of these agendas and desires are lust that had prompted John’s infidelity, Abigail’s jealousy and less obvious ones like Thomas’s thirst for wealth and Giles troublesome attitude.

Another message behind The Crucible is the mob mentality that causes mindlessness and lack of individual thought. This can lead to hatred and doubt amongst town folk whether the subject is religious, political or otherwise. The last moral message, of course, is McCarthyism from the famous senator Joseph McCarthy and played by one of the strongest characters.

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