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Free Study Guide-The Crucible by Arthur Miller-Free Booknotes Summary
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The Crucible is written as a play in the present tense, so the audience (reader) is aware of all things as presented. Occasionally a third-person omniscient narrator interrupts the dialogue.


"What profit him to bleed? Shall the dust praise him? Shall worms declare the truth?" Act 1. - Rev. Hale

Hale is asking Elizabeth what good it would be for Proctor to die. He is indicating that nothing will be proven by an innocent man going to his death

"It is for you to say what is good for you to hear." Act 1. - Rev. Parris

Parris is trying to show his authority and the authority of God by saying that it was not for Proctor to decide what he needs to know

"He may have his goodness now, God forbid I take it from him." Act IV. - Elizabeth Proctor to John

Elizabeth believes that he now goes to death as an honest man by continuing to plead his innocence.

"You think it God's work you should never lose a child, nor grandchild either and I bury all but one?" Act 1. - Mrs. Putnam

Mrs. Putnam is arguing with Rebecca Nurse because of Rebecca's proposition that God permitted Betty and Ruth's apparent sickness, rather then the Devil, and that maybe they should blame themselves. In the puritan religion, the spiritual world reflects the physical world, so if your children are dying, it is sign from god that you are not of his chosen ones. Mrs. Putnam refuses to believe she is at fault, as Rebecca suggested of all of them, so she is deeply resentful of Rebecca's appearing to be chosen (all her children are alive), and how she is moraly superior to them. Later on Mrs. Putnam charges Rebecca with the murder of her babies.

"It is a weighty name, it will stike the village that Proctor confess." Act IV. - Rev. Parris

He's describing that John Proctor is a well-known name in the town, and has a clean slate. He's implying that John Proctor is a good man and everybody believes so, so when he is "found guilty" and his name is dragged through the mud people will be stunned as some might not even believe it to be true.

"I'm not worth the dust on their feet." Act IV. - John Proctor

Referring to those that have already hung before him.


There is very little direct traditional symbolism in The Crucible.

Crucible - it is meant to purify, usually by fire. A great irony since the 'fire' that burns in Salem does not purify. Instead it muddles (confuses) and corrupts. Thus a fire burning for the wrong reason is not able to purify.

Fortress (page 65)- the church is seen in this manner. But while the metaphor used suggests one crack may break it, we also see that rigidity or the lack of an open mind can bring down an edifice just as quickly.

Dawn 'the new sun' (page 126) - the end of the play suggests the start of a new day where right is restored and the evil has been expelled.

The Crucible itself has very few examples beyond typical witchcraft symbols (rats, toads and bats for example)

The story as a whole can draw direct comparisons to the McCarthyism period of the 1950's. The paranoia and comparisons as a "witch hunt" are sharp.

Some major Motifs are: Resentment, Accusations, confessions, the trials.

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Free Study Guide-The Crucible by Arthur Miller-Free Plot Summary Synopsis


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