What is The Crucible really about?

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andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The Crucible, is about the abuse of power and authority. It is about persecuting others and destroying their lives without having substantial proof of their guilt. It is about convicting the innocent based on assumptions, rumour and gossip without presenting actual proof. Furthermore, it is about creating fear and uncertainty in a restrictive society, a society in which ones freedom of speech and expression is curtailed to such an extent that ones opinions are used as a weapon against oneself.

Miller's play brilliantly exposes the flaws in such a society where power is wielded like a mighty sword to cut down those who have a 'different' or alternative opinion, in which there is a demand for one to rigorously adhere to a so-called 'common' truth and a supposedly 'common' good. These apparently positive qualities, in such a society, if one possesses them, provides one with the moral right to challenge and accuse those who act contradictory to these 'goodnesses', if one may put it that way.

The play furthermore depicts how such attitudes could lead to hysteria and create an environment of fear and suspicion and how the unscrupulous could abuse such conditions to benefit in a material sense and exercise vengeance with impunity for, if one is on the 'good' side, there would be no negative repercussions for one. Instead, one would be praised for taking the moral high ground and have the courage to identify what would be deemed the 'true' perpetrators.

In such conditions, hypocrisy, self-aggrandisement and self-righteousness reign supreme. It is a society where the innocent become the guilty and the true perpetrators become the heroes. It is a society which breeds chaos and corruption.     

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