The Crucible is a famend allegory written by Arthur Miller. It is a book that helps us to understand the restrictive nature of the Salem society. The e book draws a picture of the Puritans who changed house from England to America since the former had been experiencing religious persecutions. The Puritans firmly believed that manual work and subscription to sure religious beliefs are the best measures of honesty and faithfulness. To them, sexual and material cravings have been immoral and perilous to the community. The book succinctly brings out the themes of dishonesty, covetousness, thirst for power, and possession. It is a reflection of what takes place in some of the societies the world over.
The play commences in the woods. We meet one of the main characters by the name Reverend Parris. He sees some young ladies dancing in the woods and communicates the same to his niece, Abigail. He also informs her that he saw Tituba casting spells over the fire and a naked lady wandering in the woods. What he is not aware of is that the whole ordeal is on Abigail’s fingertips. Dancing within Salem is virtually impossible for the girls who reside in Salem. They have to go to the woods and carry out their activities there. However, other than dancing, the people in the woods are said to have performed other rituals that could not auger well with the community.
The play characterizes the restraint of desire which is a strong proponent of the Salem community. Abigail who previously worked as a house help at Proctor’s has had a desire to get the attention of Proctor. We can see her imploring him to give her a “soft word.” However, Proctor openly tells her off. This causes Abigail to accuse Proctor’s wife of slander. On the other hand, Putman has a craving for land. Parris wants to rule. Word has been going round that the illness Elizabeth is suffering from is not natural but rather as a result of witchcraft. Betty has also been in the hospital for some time. She seems to be having some hysterical reactions. Her illness has also been associated with escalating witchcraft in Salem. Her claim that Abigail took blood the previous night with the main aim of killing Elizabeth Proctor shocks many. Rebecca, an experienced nurse, has been warning people to desist from making sensational statements that could unnecessarily evoke fear and mistrust in the community.
The rising number of illnesses being reported prompts the people of Salem to seek divine intervention on the issue. They approach their Reverend, Mr. Hale. He then assesses Betty’s condition. He also reads some sacred books to determine whether there is a possibility her situation has been caused by witchcraft. Reverend Hale’s decision to question Abigail is informed by the fact that Reverend Parris had shared with her about the dancing in the woods. The grilling of Abigail by Reverend Hale eventually causes her to admit that Tituba is used to invoking evil spirits. People beat up Tituba and even threaten to hang him if she does not bring everything to light. The confessions go on and soon, the people of Salem realize that witchcraft activities have been taking place without their knowledge.
Various arrests are made in connection with the witchcraft. Among the people arrested is Abigail. During the court hearings, Elizabeth’s name is grossly mentioned; something that prompts Reverend Hale to visit the Proctor’s so as to hear Elizabeth’s side of the story. Officers arrive shortly after and arrest Elizabeth on account that her curses have led to Abigail’s illness. This happens at a time when Elizabeth is expectant. Mary Warren, the current house help in Proctor’s is reluctant to stand in court and defend Elizabeth. Eventually, Proctor succeeds in convincing her to do so for the sake of his wife. The acceptance of Mary to stand in court comes as a relief to Proctor. At the court, however, Abigail gains extra strength and is able to see things that other people cannot see. The entire court is thrown into confusion, and nobody seems to understand the other. It does not take long before Proctor lets the cat out of the bag. He confesses about the affair he has had with Abigail in the past. Through some theatrics, Abigail is able to wield power over Mary. To the astonishment of all in the court room, Mary refers to Proctor as “agent of the Devil.” The sudden turn of events leads to the arrest of Proctor.
Proctor ends up in prison. The same fate befalls his wife Elizabeth. The attempts of Reverend Hale to have the two confess everything hits a snag. Proctor destroys the initial affidavit he had signed since he cannot stand the shame of pinning his confessions on the church door. There is no other option apart from taking the two to the gallows.
As clearly seen in the play, acts of dishonesty, possession, craving for power, and greed take center stage. In as much as some people gain, there are many others who fall victims and suffer in the process.