What are some of the key literary elements in The Crucible by Arthur Miller, and could you please give examples? 

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There's a particularly striking example of animal imagery in Abigail's description of John Proctor as "sweating like a stallion." She's referring of course to their illicit affair, which will cause no end of trouble to John, both with his wife Elizabeth and with Abigail herself when she sets out to destroy him out of revenge for his ending their relationship.

This vivid piece of imagery perfectly conveys the sheer animal intensity of the affair between Abigail and John. It also highlights its illicit nature. In this part of the world, in the Calvinist theocracy that is Salem, men and women should not behave like this. They are supposed to be God-fearing, upright citizens: members of God's elect. They are not supposed to succumb to primal urges like animals.

And yet that's precisely what John and Abigail have done. In doing so, they've separated themselves from respectable society, a process that will be accelerated in John's case when he's falsely accused of witchcraft.

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There are a number of literary elements present in this classic play by Arthur Miller. In addition to the two kinds of irony stated in the earlier response, one very obvious literary element is that of allegory. Miller wrote the play intentionally to comment upon the McCarthy hearings, which were referred to as a "witch hunt" at the time.

This is an interesting point, since there were some who referred to the hearings before the United States Senate's Subcommittee on Investigations as a "witch hunt"; and yet, for the most part, it was McCarthy's investigation into the "Un-American activities" of various citizens that was the larger problem. This demonstrates the way that the term "witch hunt" can be manipulated to mean both the persecutor and the persecuted.

In 1954, McCarthy was accusing citizens of Communist sympathizing and spying with little evidence and through hearsay; in much the same way, people in Salem Village are accused of witchcraft with only "spectral" evidence, plus rumor and hearsay. These parallels indicate what a perfect allegorical framework exists in The Crucible for pointing out the hypocrisy and predatory behavior of the accusers in McCarthy's day, as well.

In addition to allegory, an additional literary element is that of metaphor, present in the play's title. A "crucible" is a container used for heating materials to a very high temperature such as metals or glass. Similar to a witch's cauldron, the crucible is meant to melt down matter to form something else. The word also means "a severe test," and surely these events were tests of the durability of truth, compassion and justice, both in 1692 and 1954. Merriam Webster offers a third definition: "a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development," which is also very applicable to both situations.

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One of the most significant literary elements employed by this play is irony.  Certainly, Act III presents us with major situational irony -- when something about a situation itself defies expectation -- when Deputy Governor Danforth refuses to believe the truth told by Mary Warren and John Proctor and, instead, believes Abigail Williams and the other girls who are actually lying.  He tells Proctor, "We burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment," when, in fact, this judge is completely incapable of detecting concealment and deception.  It is ironic that a judge is incapable of winnowing out truth from lies.

Miller also employs dramatic irony -- when the audience knows more than a character -- in this act.  We know that Mary and Proctor are telling the truth; we know that there is no such thing as witchcraft, for that matter.  However, Danforth cannot see that his belief that "the voice of Heaven is speaking through the children" is incorrect.  He is mistaken, and he condemns many innocents as a result of his error.  We know more than he does, and this builds tension and suspense for the audience as we await the revelation of truth.

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