full title The Crucible
author Arthur Miller
type of work Play
genre Tragedy, Allegory, Historical Fiction
time and place written America, early 1950s
date of first publication 1953
publisher Viking Press
narrator The play is occasionally interrupted by an omniscient, third-person narrator who fills in the background for the characters.
climax John Proctor tells the Salem court that he committed adultery with Abigail Williams.
protagonist John Proctor
antagonist Abigail Williams
setting (time) 1692
setting (place) Salem, a small town in colonial Massachusetts
point of view The Crucible is a play, so the audience and reader are entirely outside the action.
falling action The events from John Proctor’s attempt to expose Abigail in Act IV to his decision to die rather than confess at the end of Act IV.
foreshadowing The time frame of the play is extremely compressed, and the action proceeds so quickly that there is little time for foreshadowing.
tone Serious and tragic—the language is almost biblical.
themes Intolerance; hysteria; reputation
motifs Empowerment; accusation, confession, legal proceedings in general
symbols Though the play itself has very few examples of symbolism beyond typical witchcraft symbols (rats, toads, and bats), the entire play is meant to be symbolic, with its witch trials standing in for the anti-Communist “witch-hunts” of the 1950s.