How does the tragedy in The Crucible relate to catharsis?     

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In literature, catharsis can refer to the release of intense emotion by the characters, but it can also refer to the moment when the audience is purged of the intense emotions brought on by the story; it actually means "cleansing" in Greek—as though we, the audience, are cleansed of the tension and suspense the text has compelled us to feel.

In The Crucible, we know that the characters who are sentenced to die at the end of the text are innocent. We know that many others have been hanged before them and that Deputy Governor Danforth is adamant that these hang as well, or else it will cast suspicion on the court's prior rulings. However, what we don't know—what creates the awful tension and suspense for the audience—is whether these people, and specifically John Proctor, will confess to the crime for which they were condemned. We watch as he asks his wife what he should do, as he decides to confess a lie and...

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