We Burn A Hot Fire Here It Melts Down All Concealment

What does this quote mean said by Danforth in The Crucible?

"We burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment."

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In Act Three, Mary Warren tells Deputy Governor Danforth that Abigail and the other girls are lying. Danforth then looks at John Proctor and says to him, "We burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment" (Miller, 81). Danforth's statement is significant because it foreshadows Proctor's confession of his infidelity while simultaneously alluding to Hell and depicting the imagery of a crucible.

The "hot fire" symbolically represents the ominous, tense atmosphere of Salem, which is similar to Hell. The heat and melting imagery also correlate with the title of the play. A crucible is literally a container where metals and other substances can be melted at high temperatures. A crucible is also the perfect metaphor for the violent hysteria that overwhelms the community of Salem. As previously stated, the melting of "all concealment" foreshadows Proctor's subsequent confession of his infidelity. When Proctor admits that he had an affair with Abigail Williams, he reveals his secret and ruins his reputation. Danforth's statement rings true on several metaphorical levels. 

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Also, remember the signifigance of the title The Crucible. A scientist will tell you that it is a ring that holds a flask over a fire; a linguist will tell you that is a term for a rough trial or ordeal one undertakes. This quote combines those images at an important point in the play. Proctor is also dealing with a personal trial-- dealing with his young lover's vindictiveness and his wife's coldness as a result of their affair. Proctor's personal trial and the witchcraft trials intertwine to bring about Proctor's downfall.

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This quote is said in Act Three to John Proctor, just as he brings his claim that the girls, led by Abigail, are all making up the serious charges of witchcraft that they bring against so many of the people of Salem. This quote is incredibly important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it foreshadows the way that the system of "justice" does indeed melt down "all concealment," in particular focusing on John Proctor's infidelity with Abigail and his act of adultery against his wife. Secondly, it is indeed true that the court does "burn a hot fire," as is shown by the subsequent death of so many innocent lives. There is also the allusion to the fires of hell in this quote, which is rather appropriate, given the hell-like nature of the Salem witch trials and the way that so much harm was done with the intention of only achieving good.

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