Why did Arthur Miller name his play "The Crucible"?

Arthur Miller named his play "The Crucible" because a 'crucible' which is a bowl of melting-hot liquid metal becomes synonymous with the feverish atmosphere of the town of Salem; the term also serves as a symbol for the series of trials and tribulations that the characters go through. The crucible is also a metaphor for Hell, and refers to the inferno that consumes the inhabitants of the town.

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A crucible can be defined as a container capable of withstanding intense heat. In the play The Crucible a number of characters finds themselves having to do much the same thing. Heat in this sense is not just allegorical; it's also literal. The standard punishment for those convicted of witchcraft was public burning. Anyone so condemned effectively had to go through three crucibles, or trials: first, the trial of public opinion; then, a formal criminal trial in a court of law; and finally, the trial of the actual execution itself.

Each test is significant as it removes the individual's outer shell—the first two metaphorically, the last one literally—to reveal the true self underneath. The feverish witch-hunt hysteria exposes the mental and emotional depths of each individual to sustained and uncomfortable public scrutiny. Psychologically, this is the toughest test of all, as damaging secrets and lies come bubbling to the surface to be picked over and minutely examined by the...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 548 words.)

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