The Crucible

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade November 2001

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Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in 1953. The play takes place in Salem Massachusetts, 1692. It was the time of witchcraft hysteria, much like the McCarthy era where those who were suspected, were condemned. A crucible can be a device that melts down every wall and barrier to find the real truth. The Crucible is an excellent example of a tragedy. Aristotle described a tragedy as having five, distinct qualities. The first quality a story must have in order to be called a tragedy is that the tragic hero must be an upright, respected person. The next requirement is that the main character must be in conflict with some other person or form. The third is that the tragic hero must have a flaw in his characteristics. The fourth requirement to be a tragedy is that in some way the main character falls, dies, or loses something in his life.

The last and most important quality is that the tragic hero inspires, wins, or triumphs in some way. According to Aristotle's views, The Crucible is an excellent example of a tragedy.

"God keep you both; let the third child be quickly baptized, and go you without fail each Sunday to Sabbath prayer; and keep a solemn, quiet way among you." Reverend Hale said this about Proctor and his household after he examined it. John Proctor is an upright, decent man, as just quoted from Reverend Hale. Proctor maintains a good, Christian lifestyle, besides skipping church on occasion. The main reason why he skips church is that he does not get along with his minister, Reverend Parris. Some people in the village bicker with Proctor due to his strong willed personality, but generally he is respected and admired throughout the community. John is in his mid thirties, has a loyal wife, and is respected by almost everyone.

John Proctor is often quarreling with other members of his community. John is a man not easily led by someone. He is not a follower and has to be highly convicted in a cause to support it. In one scene from the play, Proctor is arguing with Reverend Parris about the suspicion of witchcraft in Salem. Proctor said that is was ridiculous and that Parris should not of called for Reverend Hale to investigate. "No, you cannot break charity with your minister. You are another kind John. Clasp his hand, make your peace." Rebecca spoke trying stop the conflict between John and Parris. Proctor often is in conflict with other characters because of his strong willed personality.

The last requirement a story must have in order to be called a tragedy is that the tragic hero must win, triumph, live, or in some way inspire the audience. John Proctor died an inspiring death. Minutes before his death, Elizabeth spoke, "He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him." Throughout Proctors whole life, he viewed himself as a fraud. Only in his last hours did he view himself as having "a shred of goodness" as Elizabeth best put it. John viewed himself dieing as the right thing to do. Proctor died, but his name lived on unblemished.

In conclusion, The Crucible is indeed a tragedy according to Aristotle's views on tragic stories. The tragic hero, John Proctor, was an upright respected person. He was in conflict with someone or something throughout the play. Also, Proctor had a flaw in his characteristics. Aristotle's fourth requirement was met in the hanging of Proctor. The Crucible is an inspiring, uplifting story, which is Aristotle's last requirement. Even in modern society, we all have out own crucibles, or trials and tests in life. Many are not as obvious and apparent as John Proctor's crucible, but they are always there. Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible is a beautifully written story, and is the epitome of all tragedies.