The Crucible *WIDER READING NOTES* The Crucible - Arthur Miller What is it about?Set in Salem USA in 1692, The Crucible tells the story of John Proctor, and the consequences of his affair with a girl named Abigail. Abigail is convinced that John Proctor loves her, and so sets out to get rid of his wife by accusing her as a witch. This occurs amongst a frenzy of women accusing other women of being witches, and mass panic as a result of their strict puritan religion. The residents are convinced that the Devil is among them, and are sending innocent women to death as a result of this. Themes: • Religion: The entire town are strict puritans, constantly engrossed in prayer. "They did not celebrate Christmas, and a holiday from work meant only that they must concentrate even more upon prayer." • Fear: The witch trials occur as a result of fear, as no one wants to be accused themselves, and so they accuse other people without evidence. There is both the fear of being accused of being a witch, and the genuine fear of witches themselves. • Manipulation: Abigail gains power over Elizabeth as Elizabeth knows that she will name her as a witch, she manipulates religion, and the fear of the people, for her own personal gain. John Proctor knows this. He is a highly religious man, yet he seems to be the only one who can see that it is being used as a weapon against innocent women. Context:The enitre play is a metaphor for 1950s America, a time in which people were being accused of being communists, and deported from the country without trial, or evidence. Miller wrote the play out of frustration as he felt that the fear of the people was getting out of hand, the same way that it did in the Salem witch trials. Struggle for identity:The protagonist John Proctor struggles for his identity as a religious man, as he observes it being used as a weapon to accuse innocent women of witchcraft. He feels isolated from his town, as he is more rational than others, and can see the manipulation that is occuring. This reflects Miller's personal struggle for identity, as he feels isolated from American society due to McCarthy and the communist hysteria.