The Crucible is loosely based on the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693. The culture in Salem at that time was one of strict Puritanism. The governing authorities were intertwined with this doctrine of religious ideology and sexual repression. Acting out against this religious imperialism, some girls go to the woods to dance naked. Fearing severe punishment, the girls decide to lie and say they were possessed by evil spirits. Abigail Adams leads the others in this lie, which eventually turns into a series of accusations. Abby and the girls accuse other women in the village of witchcraft. The town and its governing authorities become swept up in mass hysteria and the accusations continue. With the exception of a few rational people (including John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, and Reverend Hale), members of the village blindly believe the accusations. The scenes in court show the absurdity of the leaders because they essentially employ a "guilty until proven innocent" method.
The Crucible illustrates the danger of mass hysteria. It exposes a corrupt authority run by a narrow-minded ideology. This play, first performed in 1953, is an allegory for the Communist witch hunt which has occurring in America in the 1950s. In this parallel, Americans were hunted like witches because they were deemed to hold Un-American beliefs.