What purpose does the Overture serve in The Crucible?

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esmcgrew eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Crucible, the Overture serves a number of purposes. Mainly, Arthur Miller is providing background information for the community of Salem. He indicates the significance of religion in the community and makes references to the philosophy that all social organization must be founded on the principles of 'exclusion and prohibition'. In other words, in order for a successful community to thrive they must have laws and social hierarchy. He also explains some of the reasoning behind the apparent madness of the Salem witch trials, namely that many characters used the trials to advance their personal vendettas.