The theme, or subject matter, of a literary work is a very important element. This theme may attempt to teach a reader a lesson about life, such as nobility, hypocrisy, or fear. One such literary work that utilizes these themes is Arthur MillerÃÂs The Crucible.
Miller wishes to show the reader that fear and suspicion are infectious and can produce a state of general hysteria that results in the destruction of public order and rationality. As soon as Betty and Ruth become unconscious and a story about dancing in the forest is revealed, the entire town of Salem goes into shock. Fear of witchcraft spreads like wildfire, and eventually several people are imprisoned and hung. Even the neighboring town of Andover is faced with a similar situation regarding witchcraft. The situation had become so bad due to the fact that enemies could be dealt with by simply accusing them of witchcraft.
Proctor realizes this during his wifeÃÂs arrest and shouts, ÃÂThis warrantÃÂs / vengeance! IÃÂll not give my wife to vengeance!ÃÂ (2.1127). Giles Corey also knows this, as he professes to Danforth, ÃÂThis man / is killing his neighbors for their land!ÃÂ (3.1138).
People who claim to be pious and virtuous may in fact be guilty of hypocrisy. This theme of the play speaks of how Abigail, although highly respected in the court, is actually a liar and guilty of adultery with John Proctor. Miller uses an allusion to the Bible, saying that in court, ÃÂwhere she walks the crowd will part like the sea for IsraelÃÂ (2.1115). This allusion shows that the majority of people thought Abigail to be almost holy, like Moses who parted the Red Sea. Yet, in reality, Abigail is no such saint. She threatens the girls to go along with her witchcraft plan,