preview

Why Is The Crucible So Called

Powerful Essays
How is 'The Crucible' appropriately titled?

The word 'crucible' is used by Arthur Miller in his play as a metaphor. The first definition of the word crucible is: a melting pot especially for metals. In the play this is first acknowledged during the first act, as we gradually piece together the information concerning the girls dancing. The 'kettle' viewed by Reverend Parris mirrors a crucible. We are told that the girls had made a brew which contained a little frog and blood is therefore viewed by the characters involved as a potent, fearsome mixture and this signifies the beginning of the Salem tragedy. It seems that from this 'brew' a more sinister force is released. The dancing and the contents of the little pot seem to fuel the rumours, lies and tragedy of Salem. From this point onwards, lies which in turn arouse suspicion ending ultimately in the destruction of the Salem community. Even in the next part of the play we observe Tituba create and elaborate lies which is the first we see of the evil which is unleashed by the witch hunt. There was very little privacy in Salem mainly because the fact that it was a theocracy and crimes were an offence not only against God but also against the community. Therefore there was pressure for neighbours to reveal other's sin. The desire for privacy makes one suspect others because if they do not convict others it looks as if they themselves might have something to hide. It is ironic that Reverend Parris says that the witchcraft investigation might reveal the source of all the community's problems 'Why, Rebecca, we may open up the boil of all our troubles today' because in the end the witchcraft investigation provokes the burning down and destruction of the community.

The witch trials are also metaphorically a melting pot, again, for people's grudges, and their seeking of revenge. The play shows us also how people can give into their fear and superstition. The trials are not really about witchcraft, Abigail admits to John in private how the witchery is a hoax 'We were dancing in the woods last night and my uncle leaped out on us. She took fright, is all'. As she says this she is confident and relates the situation with a wicked air of control. This not to say people in Salem do not believe in the supernatural. Although many people in The Crucible believe in witches, many Salem residents simply take advantage of the...

... middle of paper ...

...d but felt very strongly about only taking responsibly directly for his actions and refused to ruin others. He said during his trial 'I could not use the name of another and bring trouble on him… I take the responsibility of everything I have ever done, but I cannot take the responsibility for another human being. Proctor acted very similarly in his trial he said 'I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another'. Proctor and Miller were could see beyond the hysteria concerning ridiculous accusations and were not prepared to betray others to save themselves.

In conclusion the Crucible is linked to the play both metaphorically, directly and historically. It is an interesting fact that a crucible is a melting pot especially for metals because the word metals has a homophone, mettle which means natural ardour, spirit, strength or courage. These are some of the qualities John Proctor displays towards the end of the book as his mettle is tested and purified. The title is relevant to most of the themes and issues that the play explores. The title is very effective due the fact it is provocative and encourages one to reflect on the play, its meaning and also its contemporary truth.
Get Access