The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller that was first produced in 1953, is based on
the true story of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Miller wrote the play to parallel the
situations in the mid-twentieth century of Alger Hiss, Owen Latimore, Julius and Ethel
Rosenburg, and Senator McCarthy, if only suggestively. (Warshow 116) Some
characters in the play have specific agendas carried out by their accusations, and the fact
that the play is based on historical truth makes it even more intriguing.
The characters in this play are simple, common people. The accused are charged
and convicted of a crime that is impossible to prove. The following witchcraft hysteria
takes place in one of America's wholesome, theocratic towns, which makes the
miscarriage of justice such a mystery even today. The reasons the villains select the
people they do for condemnation are both simple and clear. All of the accusers have
ulterior motives, such as revenge, greed, and covering up their own behavior.
the accusers have meddled in witchcraft themselves, and are therefore doubly to be
distrusted. (Warshow 116) The court convicts the victims on the most absurd testimony,
and the reader has to wonder how the judges and the townspeople could let such a
The leading character of the play is John Proctor, a man who often serves as the
only voice of reason in the play. He had an affair with Abigail Williams, who later
charges his wife with witchcraft. Proctor is seemingly the only person who can see
through the children's accusations. The reader sees him as one of the more 'modern'
figures in the trials because he is hardheaded, skeptical, and a voice of common sense.
He thinks the girls can be cured of their 'spells' with a good whipping. (Warshow...