Irony In The Crucible

What are some examples of irony in The Crucible?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While this question has been posed and answered by other editors on eNotes (see links provided below), there are other examples of irony that have not been addressed as of yet.

Arthur Miller's play, "The Crucible," has two very specific aspects of irony.

First, the fact that Reverend Parris is more worried about speaking to his congregation about gold candlesticks, the ownership of his congregation owned house, and his wages is ironic given that he is a Reverend. A man of the church should not be worried about his money, or ownership, or preaching about himself. Instead, he should be worried about bringing people to God--what he devoted his life to.

Second, John Proctor's behavior is very ironic when it comes to accusing Abigail of lying to the courts. When Elizabeth tells John that she thinks he needs to tel the courts about Abigail's admission to him that no witchcraft was involved, John questions going because of he is afraid that his own sins will be revealed. The fact that he does go to expose Abigail is ironic given his own sins. Think of it in this way, John is calling the kettle black" when accusing Abigail of not being a good Christian. He cannot possess that title either.

One last and final irony seen in the play is when those who are being accused are the ones who are "higher up." It is not until the wives of judges are accused that the court begins to look at the real evidence being presented. When, and only when, more high profile people are being accused of witchcraft is when the courts readjust their questioning and proceedings.

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another example of irony in The Crucible is that when Mary Warren comes to the court with her employer, John Proctor, to tell the truth—that she and the other girls are not witches, and they have been telling lies when they've accused others in the town—she is not believed. Danforth tells Proctor, "the entire contention of the state in these trials is that the voice of Heaven is speaking through the children." One would think that these learned, supposedly sagacious magistrates would be able to discern truth from lie but they are not, despite their confidence in themselves.  

Of further irony is Danforth's statement that "We burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment." We know that he is completely unable to distinguish between who lies and who is honest: he doesn't believe John Proctor, a man who risks destroying his own reputation to tell the truth, and he does believe Elizabeth Proctor, a woman who lies to protect her husband. He doesn't believe Mary Warren, but he does believe Abigail Williams, a girl who does practically nothing without lying.