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There are many important messages and themes in Arthur Miller's The Crucible .

The work is a social commentary on the 1950's and the infamous McCarthy Trials. Find out everything you need to know to understand The Crucible . The Crucible Act One Themes Abuse of power is most apparent through the character of Abigail. Historically speaking, the Puritan children or young adults had no real voice within the community. Abigail spends the majority of Act One trying to get out of trouble for dancing in the woods and denying that any witchcraft was used there. When Reverend Hale investigates, Abigail is able to shift the blame from herself and the others to Tituba, Parris' slave from Barbados. No longer in any real peril, Abigail could sit back and let Tituba admit that she is a witch and works for the Devil. However, when Hale states: "You are God's instrument put into our hands to cleanse Salem" (Miller 1), Abigail realizes that through admission of witchcraft she now ha s power to point out the other witches of Salem. Intoxicated by this thought of power, Abigail calls out "I want the light of God...I saw the Devil" (Miller 1). At the end of the scene, the mass hysteria which will overtake Salem has been unleashed. Themes and Symbols in Act Two The relationship between John and Elizabeth reveals many themes in the play. When forgiveness should be given and how infidelity crushes trust are clear themes established. It has been seven months since the affair between Abigail and John. Elizabeth discovered it and essentially, she ends the relationship. Because John has shown remorse and has "tiptoed" around her trying "to please" her, he feels that Elizabeth should now forgive and trust him. "I see now that your heart twists aro und the single error of my life and I will never tear it free" (Miller 2). Elizabeth has a very different view. She doesn't feel that that much time has passed and catches John in a lie when he said he spoke to Abigail with a group of people back in Act On e. While John feels he is simply protecting Elizabeth, she sees John's lie as true deception. Elizabeth feels, that on some level, John still has feelings for Abigail and doesn't want to hurt her. But the most important difference between John and Elizabeth's viewpoints, and men and women in general can be found in their discussion when Elizabeth finds out that Abigail has mentioned her name during the trials. According to Elizabeth, "There is a promise made in any bed. Spoken or silent a promise is surely made" (Miller 2). Elizabeth feels that because of John's sexual relationship with Abigail that Abby will

interpret this gesture as a promise of a future together. John, on the other hand, claims that "the promise that a stallion gives a mare" (Miller 2) is all he is gave Abigail Williams. In essence, John Proctor feels that the act of sex is just that; emotions and promises are not involved. Symbols of Act Two are the rabbit stew which Elizabeth makes John and the golden candlesticks that Proctor tells Hale about when he questions him about why he dislikes Parris. The stew is a symbol of the dysfunction of John and Elizabeth's relationship. At the beginning of the scene, John tastes it and is dissatisfied; he adds seasoning. When Elizabeth asks him about the flavor, he lies. The golden candlesticks are a clear symbol of Parris' greed. Another member of the church, Francis Nurse handmade pewter candlesticks. These were not good enough for Parris so he replaced them. Act Three Themes Act Three consists of the trials and the court. The most important theme here is the idea of concealment. The truth is hidden and character's true motives are unclear. The enti rety of the act is spent in a desperate attempt to expose the truth. Unfortunately, although there is a moment when it seems as though Danforth will see Abigail for what she truly is, Elizabeth ends up hiding the truth; something she never normally does. Act Three ends when John states that he "hears the boot of Lucifer...and...see[s] his filthy face" (Miller 3). Proctor goes on to say that he is the Devil, but so is Danforth because both have failed "to bring men out of ignorance" (Miller 4). Both characte rs have sinned, but both remain concealed for the time being. The Final Act The most important concept in Act Four is that forgiveness comes from within and that goodness is not just determined by society's standards. John begs Elizabeth for forgiveness an d approval to give a false confession to save his life. John's view is that he is already tarnished because he committed adultery. But Elizabeth points out that if he cannot live with his own decisions, her opinion won't matter. "It's not my soul John, it's yours" (Miller 4). What Elizabeth also goes on to say is that no matter what, John Proctor is a good man. This issue of the affair, which at the beginning of the play seems clearly one -sided in terms of blame, takes on a new dimension. Elizabeth also takes responsibility for her part in the affair; her own insecurity pushed her away from John, and she was unable to show him love. "Suspicion kissed you when I did" (Miller 4). Finally, the idea of a person's name and reputation is emphasized in the final sc ene. John signs a false confession to give to Danforth. But John quickly realizes that he is "blackening" the reputation of his

friends who are set to hang with the sunrise. "How can I teach my sons to walk like men in the world when I have sold my friends" (Miller 4). You are only given one name; if you ruin it, it is tarnished forever. John dies a sinner, but there is "a shred of goodness." John Proctor stands up for what is right and dies for those beliefs.