The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

The Crucible book cover
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In the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller, how does fire work as a symbol?

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Dolly Doyle eNotes educator | Certified Educator


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Fire is initially associated with hell and witchcraft. Tituba and the young girls performing a pagan ritual in the woods dance around a large fire. The fire reflects their own recklessness and evil.

As the play progresses, the other characters evoke fire imagery to suggest both sinfulness and a lack of control, not just in the outsiders like Abigail and Tituba but also among the so-called ordinary townspeople, from people like Proctor to the authorities. Giles Corey claims he will "burn in hell" for putting his wife in the line of danger by mentioning her name during an inquest. Proctor talks about the "heat" in his illicit sexual relationship with Abigail and describes all the people in Salem as being consumed with fire once the hysteria of the trials spins out of control.

So, Arthur Miller uses fire as a symbol for sin and destructive behavior in general.

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Fire in The Crucible symbolizes sinfulness, and fire's ability to quickly become out of control is mirrored by the way sin seems to spread...

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