Examples of Persecution in The Crucible

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4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 631|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024


Arthur Miller’s play "The Crucible" is a dramatization of the Salem witch trials that took place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony during 1692 and 1693. This work serves as a powerful allegory for the persecution faced by individuals during the McCarthy era in the 1950s. The play explores themes of hysteria, power, and the consequences of mass paranoia. Persecution is a central theme in "The Crucible," manifesting through various characters and events that highlight the destructive impact of fear and false accusations. This essay examines notable examples of persecution in "The Crucible," focusing on the characters of John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, and Rebecca Nurse, and how their experiences reflect the broader implications of societal hysteria and injustice.

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One of the most poignant examples of persecution in "The Crucible" is the character of John Proctor. Proctor is a farmer who becomes entangled in the witch trials after his wife, Elizabeth, is accused of witchcraft. Despite his initial attempts to stay out of the chaos, Proctor is drawn into the fray when he tries to defend Elizabeth. His persecution begins when he exposes Abigail Williams, the main accuser, as a fraud motivated by jealousy and vengeance. Abigail's desire to be with Proctor leads her to manipulate the town's fear of witchcraft, resulting in a series of false accusations. Proctor's defiance and his refusal to falsely confess to witchcraft ultimately lead to his arrest and execution. His persecution underscores the dangers of a society that allows fear and hysteria to override reason and justice.

Elizabeth Proctor's experience of persecution is equally significant. Her arrest is based on the flimsiest of evidence—a poppet (doll) found in her home, which Abigail uses to frame her. Elizabeth's character is portrayed as virtuous and honest, yet she becomes a victim of the court's irrationality and the community's readiness to believe in witchcraft. Her persecution is compounded by her husband's past infidelity with Abigail, which casts a shadow over her defense. Despite her innocence, Elizabeth is imprisoned and condemned, illustrating how personal vendettas can lead to unwarranted persecution under the guise of justice.

Rebecca Nurse is another character who suffers from unjust persecution in "The Crucible." Known for her piety and moral integrity, Rebecca is accused of witchcraft by the Putnam family, who harbor long-standing grudges against her. Her arrest shocks the community, as she is widely respected and considered a pillar of virtue. Rebecca's persecution is indicative of the broader moral decay within Salem, where even the most righteous individuals are not safe from baseless accusations. Her trial and eventual execution highlight the extent to which the witch trials have corrupted the town's sense of fairness and humanity.

The persecution of these characters in "The Crucible" serves as a powerful commentary on the dangers of mass hysteria and the ease with which truth can be distorted by fear. Miller's portrayal of the Salem witch trials is a thinly veiled critique of the McCarthy era, during which individuals were similarly persecuted based on unfounded accusations of communism. The play's depiction of persecution extends beyond the historical context, offering a timeless reflection on the consequences of allowing fear and suspicion to dictate justice.


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In conclusion, "The Crucible" provides a harrowing portrayal of persecution through the experiences of John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, and Rebecca Nurse. Each character's ordeal serves as a testament to the destructive power of hysteria and the vulnerability of individuals in a society gripped by fear. Arthur Miller's play not only recounts the tragic events of the Salem witch trials but also serves as a cautionary tale about the perils of allowing fear and paranoia to overshadow reason and justice. By examining these examples of persecution, "The Crucible" remains a relevant and poignant reminder of the importance of vigilance in safeguarding against the injustices that arise from mass hysteria and unfounded accusations.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Examples of Persecution in The Crucible. (2024, Jun 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
“Examples of Persecution in The Crucible.” GradesFixer, 11 Jun. 2024,
Examples of Persecution in The Crucible. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
Examples of Persecution in The Crucible [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 11 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from:
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