“The Crucible”? Essay, Research Paper
I think that the play “The Crucible” is called its name for many reasons, all of which reflect a certain element in the play. It is a clever thing for Arthur Miller to have chosen the word crucible as the title for this particular play because it can be interpreted in many different ways. The word ‘crucible’ has several meanings. First of all it means a vessel in which substances are heated to high temperatures. This is appropriate to the play in 2 ways – the whole society is ‘heated up’, in a small area to a state of hysteria, and secondly accused witches at this time could be burned at the stake. The second meaning of ‘crucible’ is a severe trial or test and many of the characters in the play are put through either an emotional trial or a trial in an actual court. John and his wife are good examples of this because they were put through both of these types of trial.
A crucible is an earthen pot for melting metals. As the characters from Arthur Miller’s play are mostly early European settlers in America trying to establish a new home for themselves after fleeing from religious persecution in Europe, they are from a variety of backgrounds. They are all very different people from each other, and it seems to me like the people in they play are the metals, and the crucible is the town of Salem. It is almost as if they are inanimate objects thrown into a ‘melting pot’.
That might be one interpretation. Another might be that the innocent people caught up in the witch-hunt in the Crucible are thrown into a frighteningly overheated situation where they will perish in the heat of the moment, (i.e. metals in the crucible). The crucible might also be seen as symbolising Hell. Hell is typically symbolised by heat and fire both of which a crucible is associated with. As substances in a crucible will disintegrate, or form another substance altogether, this could symbolise the society of Salem disintegrating, and a new one appearing.
The society of Salem after all the trials is what a crucible is like after metals have been heated in it. What you are left with in a crucible after heating is a disintegrated piece of what was there in the first place. This symbolises the society of Salem because at the beginning there was a nice society with not many sufferings.
A Crucible can also be an object in which we make something into a purer form. So, the witch-hunters might be seen as pursuing the hunt for purity and putting the people into the melting pot to make them purer. Although they are searching for a purer society, what Salem actually ends up with is a less pure society because of the evil that many people have inflicted upon others. An example of this is the people who have power over whether or not to convict a person of witchcraft, would do so if it were to further themselves in society.
The crucible is a very good name for this play, it is original and it suits the play. It is a good name as it leads people to want to know what it is about. It also encourages a person who is watching or reading the play to read between the lines a bit more because the title leads them to think that there is probably another interpretation of many things. Salem, in my opinion was a good definition of a crucible because characters didn´t have anywhere to go but to stay among the mayhem and the heat that their society builds up.