The Crucible: theatrical conventions of the period

The Crucible: theatrical conventions of the period

Theatrical Conventions in “The Crucible”

Realistic Conventions and Historical Context

  • “The Crucible” is a drama of realistic conventions, reflecting the period in which it is set – the late 17th century.
  • The play is a historical drama that draws from the persecution and witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Its realistic style contributes to depicting hysteria, fear, and power dynamics of that period.

Language and Dialogue

  • Language and dialogue are significant theatrical conventions in “The Crucible”. The language reflects the time period, with Arthur Miller striving for historical accuracy, often using a form of old English in his dialogue.

Staging and Design

  • Lighting and stage design are also notable features. Stark, harsh lighting, shadow work, and minimal, everyday props were used to maintain the tension and eeriness of the witch trials.
  • Staging was crucial to showing the stark contrast between the strict Salem community and the wilderness beyond. It often illustrated the division between public and private spaces.

Use of Public Humiliation and Punishment

  • Public humiliation and punishment were frequently used theatrical conventions during this period. Public confession and punishment were meant to inspire fear and obedience in the community.

Dramatic Irony

-The use of dramatic irony, where the audience knows more than the characters about the witch trials and their outcome, creates tension and suspense throughout the play.


  • Costuming is another convention that establishes the period. The characters are dressed in austere Puritan clothing, reflecting the restrictive nature of their society.

Monologues and Soliloquies

  • Miller uses monologues and soliloquies to reveal the characters’ innermost thoughts and fears, making an emotional connection between characters and those watching the play.

Expressive Movement and Physical Acting

  • Expressive movement and physical acting are used in several scenes to depict the hysteria and supposed possession of the accused witches.

Tragic Conventions

  • Tragic conventions are also employed in “The Crucible”, with a hero (John Proctor) who has a fatal flaw (his past infidelity), leading to his downfall.

Remember: A thorough understanding of these theatrical conventions will help in discerning Arthur Miller’s demand for the audience’s emotional and intellectual involvement in “The Crucible”.