The Crucible: form

The Crucible: form

The Crucible’s General Information

  • “The Crucible” is a drama written by Arthur Miller, published in 1953.

Structural Components

  • The play uses a combination of dialogue and stage directions to tell the story, a form typical for plays.
  • It is a four-act play, which is slightly unusual since many plays traditionally have three or five acts.

Form of the Play

  • “The Crucible” uses realistic and non-realistic elements, with a focus on depicting a historical event - the Salem witch trials - in an exaggerated and symbolic way.
  • Through the form of an allegorical drama, Miller explores themes of hysteria, power, corruption, and repression, drawing parallels to the Communist “witch hunts” in 1950’s America.
  • Although set in the late 17th century, its form and themes are intentionally relevant to the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Dialogue in the play often uses a stylised version of 17th-century vernacular, increasing the play’s historical authenticity.

Themes and Representations

  • The play also embraces the form of a moral drama, with characters facing moral dilemmas that force them to question their beliefs and loyalties.
  • “The Crucible” uses the dramatic form to stage the psychological and physical confines of a deeply religious and paranoid society.
  • Despite its historical setting, the play’s form resonates with modern audiences due to its exploration of universal, timeless themes such as fear, truth and integrity.

Tragedy Element

  • The tragedy of protagonist John Proctor further aligns the play with the format of traditional Greek tragedies, where characters meet a disastrous end due to their tragic flaws.