What are the themes of The Crucible?

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Three themes from The Crucible are suspicion and accusation are contagious, the fervor of religion has potential for hypocrisy, and the importance of a name.

Suspicion and accusation are contagious

The first theme in The Crucible is that people tend to get excited and a mob mentality is created where people are stirred up to the point of chaos.  For example, various people in the village are forced to confess even when they did nothing.

Tituba: I don’t compact with no Devil!

Parris: You will confess yourself or I will take you out and whip you to your death, Tituba! (Act 1)

Tituba is singled out because she is a slave, so they don’t trust her.  They don’t understand her culture and assume she is in league with the devil.

The fervor of religion has potential for hypocrisy.

The second theme is the hypocrisy of religion.  The people who most strongly believe they are doing God’s work and that the accused witches are in league with the Devil are actually the ones who are acting in a way contrary to God.  They are using God as an excuse to kill people.

Hale: Nonsense! Mister, I have myself examined Tituba, Sarah Good, and numerous others that have confessed to dealing with the Devil. They have confessed it. (Act 2)

The fact that it becomes okay to accuse and kill innocent people is an example of how religion is used hypocritically.

The importance of a name.

Names are a running motif in the play.  Naming names of accused witches and saying one’s own name are repeatedly important.  Parris insists that is “blackening my name” (Act 3).

Proctor: Oh, Francis, I wish you had some evil in you that you might know me!

Danforth: A man will not cast away his good name. You surely know that. (Act 3)

Proctor eventually decides that his name is one of the few things he has, and the integrity of his name is paramount.  He refuses to lie and confess, and sully his name.

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