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Miller takes the title of this play from the name of a vessel typically subjected to fire to burn out the impurities in a substance contained inside. Metaphorically, then, the characters in the play are subjected to "fire" that burns away their impurities. Notice the many references to fire. Judge Danforth, for instance, says, "We burn a hot fire here" in reference to the intensity of the court as it attempts to reach the truth. Fire is used as a metaphor for the judicial process that will burn away the lies to get to the truth of the accusations about witchcraft. The crucible represents this "trial by fire" experience that those who unfortunately are accused of witchcraft must endure. This symbolic crucible, however, produces only pain, not truth because the court is blinded by religious fervor.
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