How does Salem exemplify a crucible in Miller's play The Crucible?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

To understand how the village of Salem (from Miller's play The Crucible) is representative of a crucible, one must first know what the different definitions of a crucible are.

First, a crucible is a place where a severe test or trial takes place. Another definition of a crucible is a place where something is subjected to extremely high temperatures. Both definitions fit to describe why Salem is an example of a crucible.

To explain, Salem is a place ruled by Protestant theology and ideology. All of the villagers of Salem are expected to follow the rules of the theocratic government (combining of church and state). If they do not adhere on their own, they are forced. Symbolically, they are put under fire until they adhere to the laws or leave.

As for the severe test, the witch trials were a place where the villagers of Salem were tested. Many were accused of witchcraft and had to face their accusers and the courts. If they submitted, they were allowed to live. If they did not, they were killed.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How is Salem an example of "a crucible"?

Salem becomes an example of a crucible because it is tested through an intense period of heat and pressure.  The accusations test Salem to its very core.  Some of those tests are how strong the bonds between individuals are or how much Salem will believe in Christian goodness and righteousness and not in their own "darker" natures.  These "crucibles" become the fundamental tests for Salem, as it must recognize its own identity in the face of the trials.  At the same time, Salem's endurance of the witch trials force a fundamental crisis of conscience, which becomes a crucible of sorts.  How individuals respond to the accusations in terms of accepting them on false pretenses, sacrifice others in the process of their own accusations, or demand that there must be a need to "not bring harm to another" all becomes critical elements of the crucible that are being faced by the people of Salem.  It is in this vein where I think that Salem endures its own crucible, something that is tested and whose results are seen in different forms with the different responses from characters in the drama.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on