The Crucible

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20th Century Drama

"The Crucible" by Arthur Miller is set in 1692, in the small town of Salem, Massachusetts, during the witch trials. The town is ruled as a Theocracy and so when a group of girls are found dancing naked in the woods ('virgin territory'), which is condemned along with any enjoyment or pleasure, the whole town is suspicious of witchcraft. Since the Bible mentions witches and there was no proof saying otherwise, nobody thought it was impossible that evil could be lurking in the unexplored woods nearby.

The town became hysterical and things quickly became out of hand. Anybody could be suspected for witchcraft for very small things, like occasionally skipping church or working on the Sabbath day. As more and more people are accused by the girls who were found 'dancing' in the woods, more people were arrested and the witch trials began.

The play's main focus is obviously the witch trials but two of the main characters are a couple, John and Elizabeth Proctor. Their relationship has already been sabotaged by a young girl, Abigail, before the play began. She was hired by them as a servant and had a brief affair with John. Elizabeth soon found out and fired her. John still loves his wife but since the affair, it has been difficult for them to communicate.

The first scene with both John and Elizabeth in it shows John coming home late from planting the fields. Goody Proctor has been cooking dinner but is not in the room when he comes in. He tastes the food and adds some salt.

Elizabeth enters the room and they make polite conversation while she serves the food. They avoid any uncomfortable issues and speak carefully to try not to offend each other.

John compliments his wife on the seasoning, and although it wasn't her she blushes 'with pleasure', happy for his approval.

The first time they show that they want to re-establish their relationship is when John says to his wife,

"I mean to please you, Elizabeth"

and she replies,

"I know it, John"

Elizabeth feels that she almost can't get out the words as she hasn't completely forgiven her husband. John gently reminds her of some things she has forgotten and since she badly wants to please him she is annoyed at herself for it. They carried on the forced conversation until Elizabeth mentions Salem and they forget about the friction between them when she tells him that Mary Warren went. John gets very angry and they argue about it. Elizabeth also brings up Abigail, which is a sore subject as John begins to tire of 'pleading his honesty'.
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Mary Warren arrives and after being told off for leaving to go to the trials, she reveals that Elizabeth has been mentioned in the court for witchcraft.

She willl not say who mentioned Elizabeth which means she has been threatened by Abigail who obviously accused her. This is also obvious to Elizabeth who also knows Abby did it to get her out of the was so that she can have another chance with John. She believes that John still has feelings for Abby and this is the reason for the girl's behaviour.

John tries to deny ...

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