The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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What is the significance of the title The Crucible as it relates to the major characters and theocracy?

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A crucible is a container, usually made of ceramic or some kind of metal, in which substances are melted down via subjection to high temperatures. It is often used to describe a trial an individual undergoes, one that is painful and transformative.

Arthur Miller's play features characters who could be said to be metaphorically inside a crucible, subjected to intense questioning, anguish, and inner turmoil before being transformed. This especially applies to John and Elizabeth Proctor, who both undergo the greatest change as a result of the Salem Witch Trials.

The mass hysteria of the Puritan community and the superstitious reasoning of the courts have a kind of pressure cooker effect on the characters accused of witchcraft and blasphemy. They either break down and revert to cowardly conformity (as is the case with Mary Warren), or they become better people than they were before.

This is the case with John, who was a cowardly man afraid of judgement after his affair with Abigail. His wife...

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