Biblical Allusions In The Crucible

What are the biblical allusions in Act Two of Arthur Miller's The Crucible?

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are three quotes in Act II that give allusions to the bible. The whole play is set around religion. Whether it be Puritan or pagan religions. 

The first quote is when Elizabeth is alluding to the fact that everyone believes Abigail and everything she says. 

"Abigail brings the other girls into the court, and where she walks the crowd will part like the sea of Israel." Elizabeth is trying to prove that there is no hope for them, now that Abigail is making the accusations. This quote alludes to the book of Exodus in the bible, when Moses is leading the Jewish people out of Israel and God was on his side. God parted the sea for the safety of His people. 

The second quote is from Rev. Hale. He is alluding to the fact that even though someone may look innocent, that doesn't mean they are. He is determined to make these people pay, whether innocent or not.

"Man, remember, until an hour before the devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven." This quotes alludes to the fact that Satan was considered the most beautiful of all the angels in Heaven, and he turned against God and went to doing evil.

The last quote is made by Proctor to Rev. Hale, as Proctor's wife is being arrested. 

"Pontius Pilate! God will not let you wash your hands of this." This alludes to when Pontius Pilate washed his hands after handing over Christ to be killed crucified. He knew that Jesus was innocent, but he also knew he had no other choice. He washed his hands and said that he would not have this innocent man's blood on his hands. Proctor was telling Rev. Hale, that he was not going to be allowed to walk away from this, and that he was guilty of letting innocent people be condemned. 

The whole play is about the judgments we all are so quick to put on someone who may not be like us. Arthur Miller is trying to warn us that by doing this, we will start something we may not be able to stop.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An allusion is a brief reference to a person or event which the author hopes shines light onto certain aspects of a text (for the reader). In regards to Arthur Miller's The Crucible (specifically act two), much talk of religion is made throughout the play. Since Puritans believed in the combination of church and state, the church had the power to construct laws which were faith based. While much is spoken of the Commandments and sin, one main allusion to the Bible is made. 

"Will part like the sea for Israel" refers to Moses' parting of the Red Sea. Here, Elizabeth compares Abigail to Moses. Since the court is now hailing Abigail as the one who knows everything about all, they are looking at her as a prophet. At the same time, many villagers (who wish not to anger her) would move as Abigail walked by. They want to stay out of her way so that she does not accuse them of witchcraft.