Power and Authority in The Crucible

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 856 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 856|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Abigail Williams: Manipulating Power for Personal Gain
  2. Deputy Governor Danforth: The Tyranny of Authority
  3. Reverend Parris: The Corrupting Influence of Power
  4. Conclusion

In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, power and authority play a significant role in shaping the events and outcomes. Set in Salem, Massachusetts, during the infamous witch trials of the 17th century, the play explores the abuse and manipulation of power by individuals in positions of authority. Through the examination of various characters and their actions, The Crucible highlights the destructive consequences of unchecked power and the importance of questioning authority. This essay will analyze the themes of power and authority in The Crucible, focusing on the characters of Abigail Williams, Deputy Governor Danforth, and Reverend Parris.

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Abigail Williams: Manipulating Power for Personal Gain

Abigail Williams, the central antagonist of The Crucible, is a young woman who uses her position within the community to gain power and control over others. From the very beginning, Abigail displays her desire for power by accusing innocent individuals of witchcraft. She manipulates the fears and beliefs of the townspeople, convincing them that she has been possessed by the devil and that the accused are responsible for her affliction.

Abigail's manipulation of power is evident in her interactions with John Proctor, the protagonist of the play. Despite their previous affair, Abigail seeks to regain control over John by accusing his wife, Elizabeth, of witchcraft. Abigail's actions not only demonstrate her lust for power but also reveal the destructive consequences of unchecked authority. Through her lies and deceit, Abigail manages to sway the opinions of the court and condemn innocent people to their deaths.

This abuse of power by Abigail mirrors the real-life events of the McCarthy era in the United States during the 1950s. Like Abigail, Senator Joseph McCarthy used his position of authority to accuse individuals of being communists, leading to widespread fear and the destruction of many innocent lives. Miller, who wrote The Crucible as an allegory for McCarthyism, highlights the dangers of unchecked power and the devastating consequences it can have on society.

Deputy Governor Danforth: The Tyranny of Authority

Deputy Governor Danforth, one of the key figures in The Crucible, represents the tyranny of authority. As the highest-ranking official overseeing the witch trials, Danforth wields immense power and is unwilling to question the validity of the accusations brought before him. He is portrayed as a rigid and uncompromising ruler who believes that his actions are justified in the pursuit of justice.

Danforth's authority is evident in his refusal to listen to any evidence that may challenge the validity of the witch trials. When Mary Warren attempts to confess that the accusations are false, Danforth dismisses her claims and asserts his own power by stating, "We burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment." This statement reflects Danforth's belief that he has the power to uncover the truth, even if it means sacrificing innocent lives in the process.

The character of Deputy Governor Danforth serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of blindly following authority. His unwavering belief in his own righteousness and refusal to question the legitimacy of the trials ultimately leads to the deaths of many innocent people. The Crucible reminds us of the importance of holding those in positions of authority accountable and questioning their actions.

Reverend Parris: The Corrupting Influence of Power

Reverend Parris, the spiritual leader of Salem, represents the corrupting influence of power in The Crucible. Initially portrayed as a man of God, Parris is more concerned with his own reputation and maintaining his authority than with the well-being of his congregation. Throughout the play, Parris uses his position as a means of controlling and manipulating others.

One example of Parris's abuse of power is his reaction to the accusations of witchcraft. Instead of seeking to understand the truth, Parris is primarily concerned with protecting his own reputation. He fears that if word gets out that witchcraft is prevalent in his household, he will lose his position as the town's reverend and face public humiliation.

Parris's desire for power and authority is also evident in his treatment of those who challenge his beliefs. When John Proctor questions the validity of the witch trials, Parris dismisses his concerns and accuses him of attempting to undermine the church. This reaction highlights Parris's unwillingness to entertain opposing viewpoints and his determination to maintain his own authority.

The character of Reverend Parris serves as a reminder of the corrupting influence of power. His actions demonstrate how individuals in positions of authority can be driven by their own self-interest rather than the well-being of those they are meant to serve. The Crucible serves as a cautionary tale, urging us to question the motives of those in power and to hold them accountable for their actions.


In conclusion, The Crucible explores the themes of power and authority through the actions of various characters. Abigail Williams, Deputy Governor Danforth, and Reverend Parris all demonstrate the destructive consequences of unchecked power and the importance of questioning authority. Through their manipulation, tyranny, and corruption, these characters highlight the dangers of blind obedience and the need for individuals to stand up against abuse of power. The Crucible serves as a timeless reminder of the importance of maintaining a critical eye and questioning those in positions of authority.


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Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Penguin Classics, 2003.

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Cite this Essay

Power and Authority in The Crucible. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
“Power and Authority in The Crucible.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
Power and Authority in The Crucible. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
Power and Authority in The Crucible [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 23]. Available from:
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