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Theatre / The Crucible

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The Crucible is a play written by Arthur Miller and published in 1953. It is Miller's best-known play after Death of a Salesman, and is similarly regarded as one of the greatest American plays of the 20th century.

The play is a semi-fictionalized account of the Witch Trials of 1692–93 in Salem, Massachusetts, although Miller takes real people and puts them alongside his own fictitious characters, both for dramatic purposes and because little is known of the actual personalities involved.

In Salem, the villagers' way of life is deeply rooted in Puritan ideals, and the townspeople firmly hold to the conviction that anyone who opposes them is Satanic and must be purged of the devil. Consequently, the same Puritans who escaped religious persecution in England ironically enforce it in America.

One night, a group of girls led by one Abigail Williams sneak out into the woods to engage in witchcraft. The girls are caught in the act, and when one goes into shock after the whole ordeal, Abigail is cornered. To save herself, she blames Reverend Samuel Parris' slave Tituba for perpetrating the acts, leading to Tituba in turn blaming a bunch of townspeople in order to save her own skin after she catches on to Abigail's ruse. Soon, every girl accuses somebody she dislikes, claiming she saw them with Satan. The Reverend John Hale, Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth, and Judge John Hathorne, all highly respected figures in Massachusetts, are called on to purge the evil of Satan from the town by trying those indicted for the crimes.

The Crucible was written in response to the activities of US Senator Joseph McCarthy, who became notorious for his excessive zeal in rooting out supposed communist sympathizers. Miller lampshades the irony in the fact that the dichotomy between good and evil, throughout history, transcends religion and manifests itself into various ideas, including the Red Scare. Miller said that he had no doubt that some people practiced witchcraft in Salem; however, as with the fear of communism, mass hysteria was perpetuated through propaganda and turned into something worse than what it really was.

The Crucible has received two film adaptations: a Franco-East German adaptation in 1957, and an American adaptation in 1996, directed by Nicholas Hytner and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Winona Ryder, Paul Scofield, Joan Allen, Bruce Davison, and Jeffrey Jones. The 1996 film had an adapted screenplay by Miller himself, which received an Academy Award nomination; Joan Allen's role as Elizabeth Proctor also received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Despite its star power and $25 million budget, it was an extreme disappointment at the box office, only recouping $7.3 million.

The non-related Korean film, Silenced, was based on a novel called The Crucible, which was itself titled after the Arthur Miller play.

Tropes used in both the play and movie:

  • Adaptational Name Change: Ruth Putnam, one of the accusers, was known as Ann Putnam Jr. in real life.
  • Age Lift: Abigail was twelve years old in real life, but is depicted as a seventeen-year-old.
  • All for Nothing: Abigail begins the whole plot because she wants to kill Elizabeth and get with John Proctor. Proctor dies, Elizabeth doesn't, and while Abigail herself survives the play, she doesn't last for much longer.
  • Anti-Hero: John Proctor himself, considering he's had many an affair with Abigail and starts off the play as a jerkass.
  • Arch-Enemy: John Proctor has Abigail Williams, who is infuriated when he ends his affair with her and starts the entire Salem Witch Trials to do it.
  • Artistic License – History: At the very beginning of the screenplay is a disclaimer that Miller changed things around and dismissed several facts from the original events for dramatic effect. For example, Abigail and Proctor are 17 and 35 in the story and had an affair. In reality, Abigail was 12, while Proctor was 60.
  • The Atoner:
    • Proctor, for his affair with Abigail. He redeems himself by the end when he willingly allows himself to be hanged.
    • Hale at the end, for his part in the trials.
    • Giles Corey, who had not meant for his questioning his wife's habit of reading books to carry as far as it had.
    • In real life, some of the participants, including some jurors and accusers, came to regret their part in the trials. Ann (Ruth) Putnam even made a public apology of sorts as an adult.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: After spending almost the whole play being cold and distant with each other, John and Elizabeth realize this and make amends at the end.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Subverted. Yes, Abigail does get away at the end but she doesn't get what she wanted since Proctor is hanged while Elizabeth is eventually spared, and if you read the epilogue "Echoes Down the Corridor", you'll find out that Abigail eventually turned to prostitution, and died before she turned 18.
  • Beauty Is Bad: Abigail is beautiful and is the antagonist of the play. Perhaps in addition to Children Are Innocent, she benefits from Beauty Equals Goodness when everyone believes her accusations.
  • Betty and Veronica: Prior to the start of the story, John (Archie) was married to Elizabeth (Betty) while having an affair with Abigail (Veronica).
  • Big Bad:
    • Abigail. Just about everything that goes wrong in the story is caused by her. Pretty impressive for a teenage girl.
    • Judge Danforth assumed this role during the trials.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Judge Danforth does this to Reverend Parris when he's about to question Mary Warren:
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: John Proctor is willing to take a stand against religious fanaticism, but is a gruff jerk and has an affair with a teenage girl. Reverend Hale desperately tries to minimize the carnage but fails miserably. The Salem courts are full of crazy people willing to kill anybody accused of witchcraft. And all the madness is manipulated by Abigail Williams, a sociopath willing to destroy the entire town because Proctor dumped her.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • In the beginning, Reverend Hale is full of exuberance and intellectual glee, which fade significantly when he realizes that the accusers may not be completely innocent. This is shattered completely by Proctor's death:
    "Let you not mistake your duty as I mistook my own. I came into this village like a bridegroom to his beloved, bearing gifts of high religion; the very crowns of holy law I brought, and what I touched with my bright confidence, it died; and where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood flowed up."
    • Betty Parris begins as this, having been struck ill from guilt and the horror she had witnessed during the rituals, as have some of the other girls. She does not appear again in the play: in real life, she was taken out of Salem to protect her health as the trials progressed.
  • Broken Aesop: Molly Day Thacher (Elia Kazan's wife and a theater critic) asserted this about The Crucible and its anti-Red Scare subtext. She pointed out that Miller's play has a very simple right-wrong dynamic because witches don't actually exist. Applying the Witch Hunt trope to communists and liberals presumes that the latter aren't communists who are critical or opposed to the government. Miller responded to this criticism by saying that, whether or not there were communists, the wrecked lives and careers could not be justified.
  • Broken Bird: Abigail. She saw her parents murdered right in front of her when she was just a child. After that tragedy, she was raised by her greedy uncle (who just so happened to be a clergyman) and was used by a man she was in love with, only to be later told by said man that she was nothing to him. Not to mention that with the rumors of her no longer being a virgin, she would have never been married or hired. So while her actions were inexcusable, you can't help but see why she doesn't care about anybody in town.
  • Burn the Witch!: Averted. The suspected witches are hanged, which is indeed true for their real-life counterparts.
  • Chewbacca Defense: When George Jacobs, a feeble, elderly man incapable of walking without sticks, is accused of climbing into a girl's room and performing witchcraft, he states that this is impossible given his health. The judge then states he could have very well sent his spirit into the room using his powers. Jacobs has no idea how to respond to that, which the judge claims proves his guilt.
  • Children Are Innocent: This is used as a plot point. The children would never lie about who the witches of Salem are, right? Not even if one of them's 17 and wants to be with the main character, and concocts the entire crisis in order to take his wife out of the picture. The reality was even worse: the aforementioned 17-year-old was actually 12 at that time.
  • Composite Character: Thomas Danforth is a mix of several judges present at the trials: William Stoughton, John Richards, Waitstill Winthrop, Samuel Sewall, and his real-life counterpart.
  • Consummate Liar: Abigail, helped immensely by the town's willingness to believe her every word.
  • Cool Old Guy: Giles Corey, both here and in real life.
  • Cool Old Lady: Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse.
  • Corrupt Church: Well, when you have a guy like Parris in charge...
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Thomas Putnam, who profits from his daughter's accusations by purchasing the then-forfeited property of the accused.
  • Dark Messiah: Abigail, who is the Straw Hypocrite variation. She's at the center of the very, very misguided attempt to root out witchcraft and Satanism in Salem, but she herself is only trying to salvage her own lie and victimize town members she doesn't like.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Proctor, which may be why he's so disliked by others.
    • Danforth:
    Giles: This is a hearing; you cannot clap me for contempt of a hearing.
    Danforth: Oh, it is a proper lawyer!
  • Defiant to the End:
    • Giles ("More weight!"). This happened in real life, too.
    • Rebecca, Martha, and Proctor all refuse to plea guilty and opt to hang instead.
  • Defiled Forever: Proctor threatens Abigail with this, even willing to admit that he committed adultery. He eventually does reveal this, but a misunderstanding from Elizabeth ensures it doesn't work.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • Proctor attempts to puncture Abigail's veneer of righteousness by telling Danforth that she and her fellows were found dancing in the woods; a mortified Danforth repeats "dancing" as if Proctor had accused Abigail of murder.note 
    • Technically, Proctor sleeping with Abigail is statutory rape since she was seventeen at the time. If he had been able to prove that it was true, Abigail would have suffered more for their affair.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Hale has definitely crossed it at the beginning of the last act. So has the sheriff, who is visibly drunk.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • The paranoid, greedy Reverend Parris cares greatly about his reputation and wouldn't let it be soiled even if it meant withholding the truth.
    • Mary Warren. She quails easily and joins the girls in their hysteria when they accuse her of bewitching them in court, even though she's there to present evidence against the witch trials.
    • Parris, Danforth, and Hathorne are all glad to declare their own neighbors witches and have them executed. However, when the town's discontent rises to the point where their heads risk being put on the chopping block, the judges quickly pull a 180 and try to put a stop to the trials.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: All of the people accused of being witches who decline to save themselves by "confessing" are this.
  • Downer Ending: Proctor, Martha, and Rebecca are hanged, Giles is pressed to death, and their loved ones are left behind. Tituba, Sarah Good, and Mary are driven to madness. Hale fails to save a single life and blames himself for each one taken, and Abigail, who caused the whole mess in the first place, gets away with everything though she becomes a prostitute and dies before she turns eighteen.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Giles, who had stones piled onto his chest to try and get him to squeal; the only thing he would say was "More weight."
  • Evil Plan: Abigail plans to use hysteria-powered Batman Gambits to secure her crush and a power base. She loses both through overreaching.
  • Failure Hero: Reverend Hale. Despite his reputation as a witchcraft specialist and his being called to Salem in the hopes of disproving any notion of supernatural activity, he is duped by Abigail and the other girls into believing it. As a member of the court, his role is to provide wisdom and knowledge, but his advice falls on deaf ears due to Abigail's manipulations, and he quits when he sees the innocent Proctor accused. By the final scene, his only goal is to have the condemned prisoners falsely confess so that they might live, but he fails to convince a single one of them. He doesn't even get to be a Doomed Moral Victor, but rather lives on with the guilt of knowing he played a major part in so many deaths.
  • Foil:
    • Abigail is the Big Bad, is beautiful, and shows disgust for Puritan society while Elizabeth is good, plain, and follows her Puritan beliefs.
    • Mary contrasts Abigail in terms of plainness and weakness.
    • Hale for Parris. Parris is sycophantic, corrupt, greedy, and self-serving, while Hale is empathetic, compassionate, and selfless. Ironically, by the end of the play, they are working together for the exact same goal, albeit for entirely different reasons.
  • Gambit Pileup: By the second act, almost everyone in the play is running some sort of gambit to accuse, protect, or profit off someone and/or accusing someone of doing likewise. The most painful instance: John Proctor has confessed to adultery to save his wife, but Elizabeth — having heard a maybe-planted rumor that Abigail planned to accuse John of lechery — lies to protect John's innocence, not knowing what John had done. It dooms them both.
  • Gaslighting: Happens quite often when characters are forced to confess. A notable example is when Abigail convinces Mary in court that she is sending her spirit on her.
  • God Is Dead: Proctor declares this near the end during his breakdown in a very hammy manner.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong:
    • The trials started because a bunch of girls tried to cover up some dancing they did.
    • Abigail's plan. She wants to kill Elizabeth so that she can be with Proctor again. When she turns on Mary for testifying against her, Mary accuses Proctor of witchcraft. This leads to his death.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Hale and Parris, respectively, take this role when questioning Tituba in the first scene. Parris is verbally abusive and even threatens to whip Tituba to death before Hale tries a calmer approach.
  • Gray-and-Grey Morality: Nobody in the play is truly "good" or "bad".
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Danforth. Even Miller himself thought so.
  • Hanging Around: There is a series of Public Executions in which the crowd is at first excited and later miserable after so many have died because of the witch trials.
  • Hanging Judge: Danforth and Hawthorne become something very similar over the course of the play. Danforth is even called out as such by Giles:
    Giles: He means to hang us all!
  • Happily Married:
  • Hate Sink: Abigail Williams is a teenage girl in Puritan Massachusetts who had an affair with the much older John Proctor. When he realized what he was doing, he dumped Abigail, causing her to attempt a ritual to kill his wife. When she and her friends are caught, they blame a slave woman, causing her to be hanged. To keep the lie going, Abigail bullies her friends into helping her accuse more people of witchcraft, starting the Salem Witch Trials in the process. After John Proctor himself is accused, Abigail offers to bust him out of jail so they can run away together, but coldly leaves him to die when he refuses.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Mary tries to testify against Abigail, but her weakness wins out and she ends up accusing Proctor of witchcraft instead.
  • Heel Realization: Hale once he witnesses the outcome of Proctor's trial.
  • The Hero Dies: Giles dies from being tortured and at the end, Proctor is hanged.
  • Heroic BSoD: Mary gets two. She's actually able to fight off the first one, but the second one completely breaks her and makes her testify against Proctor.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
    • Proctor, who wasn't anything special in real life.
    • Averted with Giles, as he really did die in real life as the play portrayed, allowing his sons to keep the land that he would leave to them. By confessing or denying the accusation, his land would have been forfeit, but instead he kept silent, never confirming or denying the accusations, only asking for more weight to be pressed on him, until he was crushed to death.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • Likely this would be Abigail from real life. Though she has been noted to be one of the first girls to make accusations, she was not the Big Bad ringleader that the play portrays. Ann Putnam (Ruth Putnam in the play) was more infamous for her accusations, though she did make a show of repentance afterward. Her motives, and really all of the girls' motives, are also a bit more ambiguous in real life. While no one really knows why the Salem girls did what they did, it's unlikely that one of them cooked up the entire scheme as a revenge plot. In fact, not everyone even agrees that it was deliberate; some historians and scientists believe that medical and/or psychological factors may have played a role, such that some or all of the girls might have actually believed the stories they told.
    • Danforth is a composite of several judges, while ironically the one actually named Danforth fell more on Hale's side of things and helped to stop the witch trials.
  • Hope Spot: When Proctor admits to adultery with Abigail, Danforth briefly shows willingness to reconsider. Then Proctor's wife lies to protect his reputation...
  • Hysterical Woman: Mary. She has emotional breakdowns so often that you could make a pretty hazardous Drinking Game out of it.
    • A frequently omitted scene sets Abigail up as this, implying she actually believes her own allegations against Elizabeth Proctor.
  • I Won't Say I'm Guilty: Elizabeth attempts to do for John, claiming that he didn't have an affair with Abigail. This plan backfires when she learns that he had already confessed prior to her taking the stand.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: The court can't legally hang a pregnant Elizabeth until she has her baby.
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    • Quite a bit against the people accused of witchcraft. For example, George Jacobs, a decrepit old man who can't walk without sticks, is accused of having entered the girls' rooms through their windows. He points out that this is impossible given his health. The court responds by pointing out that his spirit could have done it. Sadly, this is Truth in Television; many people during the Salem Witch Trials, and any witch trial in general, had to contend with insane logic that couldn't be argued with. The judges presiding over the trials call it "spectral evidence", something that would never stand up in a proper common law court but a theocratic court like Salem's would readily believe.
    • If a witch refuses to confess, they are executed. If a witch confesses, they are simply jailed for a period of time and eventually released, which doesn't make sense considering how large of a threat the Puritans claim witches are.
    • It is implied in the play (and a known motivation in real witch trials) that such nonsensical rules were in place not to actually find witches, but as a convenient way to seize property since witches legally cannot own land.
  • Insidious Rumor Mill: A particularly lethal version with Abigail Williams and friends. On top of their Malicious Slander against their elders, when fellow accuser Mary Warren tries to tell the truth about their hysteria (at John Proctor's behest), Abigail orchestrates the group to turn against her and accuse her of witchcraft as well. Mary only survives by relenting and accusing John Proctor.
  • Inspector Javert: Danforth, who vows he would hang 10,000 men for challenging the law and never be swayed.
  • Irony:
    • As aforementioned, the Puritans were doing the same religious persecutions in Salem that caused them to leave England in the first place.
    • Elizabeth is put on the stand after she has been touted as someone who never lies. When asked about John's affair with Abigail, she lies in the hopes of saving his good name. In lying she ends up damning him.
  • Jerkass: Proctor starts out this way. However, he ends up being so broken that it ironically turns him into a far nobler man. Most evidently, there's explicit references to him beating Mary fairly frequently.
  • Kangaroo Court: The entire witch trials were this.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Parris gets his whole life savings stolen by Abigail and is voted out of office in the epilogue, which for him is a pretty substantial punishment. As for Abigail, permanent exile from Salem sounds like a minor punishment. On the other hand, it is implied in the play that Abigail prostituted herself and didn't live to see the age of 18. The real Abigail was very young and died at a young age.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Hale by the end of the play. Starting off an intellectual, he changes from idealistic to completely cynical. In the end, he attempts to convince Goody Proctor to persuade John to abandon his moral ideals so that he may live, reflecting Hale's own change in paradigms from valuing religious law to simply valuing that a human being makes it out alive, regardless of the moral cost. It doesn't work.
  • Knight Templar: Danforth and the judges.
  • Last Kiss: John and Elizabeth, immediately before he is escorted out of the prison and hanged.
  • Loophole Abuse: Giles knows that he will be put to death if he confesses, and that if he pleads innocent, he will not be believed. Therefore, he refuses to plead at all, knowing that he will die regardless and that by refusing to plead, his land will not be forfeit, and instead his sons can inherit.
  • Love Triangle: Between Abigail, John Proctor, and Elizabeth Proctor. Tragically, it ends with Proctor dead by hanging and Abigail fleeing from town. Elizabeth is the one only left alive in the play, saved from hanging due to her becoming pregnant.
  • Madness Mantra:
    • "I saw X with the Devil!" from the end of the first act.
    • Mary's "I cannot, I cannot, I cannot..." from the end of the second act.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Abigail's actions sets the plot in motion.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The ritual in the forest is left deliberately vague, intending that the fits of Betty may have natural causes, or it may not. The presence of Tituba, the chicken blood, and the cauldron, as well as the doll, implies that some kind of ritual magic has been involved (like voodoo, which would fit into Tituba's Barbados traditions). That said, "ritual magic" in a strict anthropological sense is far from real fantasy magic. Not that this would stop a bunch of superstitious settlers from going haywire.
  • Morton's Fork: Nearly anything you might have done wrong, wittingly or not, is evidence that you're a witch. If you confess to witchcraft, you'll be spared, but marred forever and lose all your belongings. If you deny it, you'll be hanged.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Abigail ultimately wants to kill Elizabeth so she can have John all to herself, even going so far as to drink chicken blood in an attempt to do so. When that doesn't work, she tries to use the trials to convict Elizabeth of witchcraft. It doesn't go well, as John ends up dying instead.
  • Narcissist: Abigail's ego makes Jupiter look like a speck of hydrogen.
  • New England Puritan: Being set in colonial New England, during the Salem Witch trials, this is naturally in play. The play examines the Puritan society of the time and how religious fundamentalism was used to advance personal agendas.
  • Nude Nature Dance: At least one of the girls at the beginning dances naked in the woods, and several other girls are accused of doing this as well.
  • Oh, Crap!: Elizabeth says that John didn't have an affair with Abigail, thus undercutting his attempt to undermine Abigail's credibility. As they lead her out, John tells her this, as he'd already confessed to it. Elizabeth's response is a horrified "Oh, God."
  • One-Steve Limit:
    • Ann Putnam is renamed Ruth in the play due to her mother also being named Ann. Hence she becomes a he who must not be seen because of this despite being one of the more famous accusers. Strangely, Betty Parris' name is unchanged despite Elizabeth Proctor being a main character.note 
    • Averted with Putnam and Danforth, they both share the first name Thomas.
    • Averted with the name John: John Proctor, John Hale, John Willard, etc.
  • Only Sane Man: Proctor, Giles and Rebecca.
  • Our Acts Are Different: There are fours acts in the play, and Intermission is taken in between Acts Two and Three. However, there is also a short scene, sometimes cut, between Proctor and Abigail that takes place in between Acts Two and Three. When included, it is frequently placed right after the intermission.
  • Prone to Tears: Mary has a very high tendency to break down weeping.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Proctor after the arrest of his wife. Milking the Giant Cow has been used in the film as well.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: Even though most of the cast is dead, the epilogue confirms that the witchcraft hysteria not only died out, but the authorities involved were disgraced and demoted for their part in mass accusations and executions. Elizabeth lives and has her baby while Abigail becomes a prostitute and dies before she turns eighteen. Even better, in real life Ruth/Anne Putnam Jr. suffered a Karma Houdini Warranty when her parents died, forcing her to raise all her siblings and she was excommunicated unofficially, needing to make a public apology for her part in the trials. It provides hope that even though people may die senselessly, you can keep building or a better world with reason and heart in it.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Hale, who listens to Proctor and the other townspeople at every turn, and even tries to back them up when they appeal to Danforth in Act Three. Even after this fails, he genuinely tries to get the convicted to confess purely because he wants to save them.
  • Rules Lawyer: Danforth mocks Giles as one, which later turns out to be true.
  • Sadist: Judge Hathorne is pretty insistent on hanging people regardless of them being guilty or innocent.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Hale reaches this point at the end, actively advising the accused to confess to witchcraft so that they'll live, even though he knows they're innocent.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Hale after Proctor's "God is dead" line:
    Hale: I denounce these proceedings, I quit this court! *leaves and slams the door behind him**
  • Shown Their Work: Some of the people whom Abigail and Betty name as being seen with the Devil at the end of Act 1 are actual people who were executed during the trials in real life. Some, however, are not- no record exists of anyone named Martha Bellows being tried for witchcraft, for example.
  • Smug Snake: Which characters fit this depends a lot on the actors and director, but it's hard to imagine Parris as anything except this.
  • The Sociopath: Abigail, who manipulates her town into mass executing people for witchcraft because one guy broke off his affair with her.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Abigail just can't listen when Proctor tells her the affair is over.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Giles intentionally keeps on saying "more weight" while pressed so he won't lose his property, so he gave his life to protect his name for his children. To make it more awesome, his Thanatos Gambit broke the Xanatos Gambit of his accusers. If he confessed, then as a witch his property is confiscated, but if he denied it and was still convicted (almost certain to be the case) then he'd also lose his property. His third option exploits a loophole. He didn't break it entirely because he still died but he destroyed the main goal. What makes this truly awesome is that this particular part of the story really did happen.
  • Torture Is Ineffective: Giles is tortured to death by having stones piled onto him but refuses to give either a plea or a confession, meaning that his property would pass to his children.
  • Tragic Hero:
    • Proctor definitely qualifies. At the start of the play, despite his affair with Abigail, he is regarded as a morally-upright and respectable man who doesn’t pick sides in disagreements. However, by the end, Proctor is a broken man, and his downfall is finally cemented due to his pride. Proctor refuses to give up his name to the court when it's all he has left and is hanged.
    • Hale. He starts off as an optimistic intellectual, but his naïveté and belief in the trials leads to immense guilt and failure to save anyone from death. He comes to Salem enthusiastic to finally utilize his studies to help people, and leaves cynical and with completely different views on religion and human life.
  • Unexplained Accent: Tituba's broken English, considering she had been on the English colony since she was a child. Her English should be as good as anyone else's.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: While parts of the play are very historically accurate, many significant details were changed, such as the fact that Abigail was 12, Proctor was 60, there was no affair between them, and Proctor was hanged before Giles was pressed.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Parris has one when Proctor refuses to sign a confession.
  • Wham Line: "I say-I say God Is Dead!!!"
  • Witch Hunt: Considering that the play is based of the real-life witch hunts of Salem, this should come as no surprise.
  • With Us or Against Us: The attitude of the court:
    Danforth: "A person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road in between."
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: It's implied that Abigail told Mary to make the poppet (a doll), stick the needle in it and give it to Elizabeth to frame her for using witchcraft. She goes as far as to fake a fit and stab herself with a needle to make it believable.

Tropes used exclusively in the 1996 movie adaptation:

  • Adaptational Expansion: The film includes scenes that were originally only described in the play, such as Tituba's ceremony and Giles Correy's death by pressing.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the original play, although he is the Greater-Scope Villain in there as well, Danforth comes off as a conflicted Well-Intentioned Extremist who only refuses the pardons because he believes it would cause a panic and lead to anarchy, and upholding the law is of the utmost importance to him. In the film, however, he's a psychotic Knight Templar Hanging Judge who blatantly enjoys sending people he knows are innocent to their deaths, and openly insults anyone who questions him or sympathizes with the people he murders. In this case, it is due to his characterization being merged with that of Judge Hathorne from the original play, whose personality was like that. Although Hathorne is in the film as well, he is a total nonentity since his characterization has been taken on by Danforth.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Proctor, as played by Daniel Day-Lewis, gets a few of these:
    "BECAUSE IT IS MY NAAAAAAAAME!! BECAUSE I CANNOT HAVE ANOTHER IN MY LIIIIFE!! BECAUSE I LIE AND SIGN MYSELF TO LIIIIIES!! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them you have HANGED! I have given you my soul; LEAVE ME MY NAAAAAAAAME!!"
  • Defiant to the End: Unlike the play, the film shows the deaths of Rebecca, Martha, and Proctor; they go out reciting the Lord's prayer.
  • Fan Disservice: The film's opening scene has some slight female nudity from behind, but it's not played to any real titillating effect and is as a result quite offsetting.
  • A God Am I: Abigail refers to herself as "God's Finger".
    "I am but God's finger, John. If he would condemn Elizabeth, she will be condemned."
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In the film, the hangings aren't necessarily glorified, but they're not entirely sugarcoated either. Usually, we get a quick cutaway right when a body drops, and the only time we see suspended bodies are for quick bursts of time and from obscure angles. The hanging at the end of the film, Proctor's hanging, has the body dropping out of frame entirely, only showing us a taut rope.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: The movie ends with Proctor being abruptly and forcefully hanged before he can finish reciting the Lord's Prayer alongside Rebecca and Martha.
  • Meta Casting: The film version casts Paul Scofield as Danforth; Scofield's most famous film role was as Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons, who faced much the same choice between moral compromise and death as Proctor and the others do at Danforth's hands.
  • A Taste of the Lash: In the movie adaptation, this is used on Tituba in front of Abigail and others.
  • The Unreveal: Subverted in a scene where Abigail accuses the governor's wife of witchcraft. This scene does not exist in the play. The play strongly implies it is Abigail who named her, but it does not outright confirm it.


Alternative Title(s): The Crucible 1996