The Crucible


“We burn a hot fire here;
it melts down all concealment

Deputy-Governor Danforth, Act Three, THE CRUCIBLE

Arthur Miller denies that tragedy is necessarily tied to pessimism, rather implies more optimism as it reinforces the onlooker’s brightest opinions of the human condition. The tragic hero claims his whole due as a personality, and if this struggle must be total and without reservation, then it automatically demonstrates the indestructible will of man to achieve his humanity.

The possibility of victory must be there in tragedy. Where pathos rules, where pathos is finally derived, a character has fought a battle he could not possibly have won. The pathetic is achieved when the protagonist is, by virtue of his witlessness, his insensitivity, or the very air he gives off, incapable of grappling with a much superior force.

Pathos truly is the mode for the pessimist. But tragedy requires a nicer balance between what is possible and what is impossible. And it is curious, although edifying, that the plays we revere, century after century, are the tragedies. In them, and in them alone, lies the belief – optimistic, if you will, in the perfectibility of man.

It is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright tread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possibly lead in our time – the heart and spirit of the average man.

A Crucible is:

  • a melting Pot that has the dual effect of destruction and purification.

  • associated with witches, a cauldron

  • fire that will burn out the devil and witchcraft.

  • The title has connotations of redemption won only through expiation; the passionate intensity of tragedy.

  • Was the ancient chemist’s tool to burn away the useless and isolate the prize; a simple concept that produced extraordinary results. Using a crucible, a rock could he stripped of its ore to reveal its prize — gold.

Miller uses the conceit of the heating of ideas, bubbles boiling to condense the indestructibility of the average human spirit.

  • mankind and belonging; his place in society
  • mankind; the individual and belonging to a society
  • inversion of .justice

The Crucible reveals the power of

  • rumour

  • hysteria

  • law - courts

  • church and religious beliefs

Mencken’s famous definition of Puritanism::

“the haunting fear that someone somewhere is enjoying themselves”.