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128 The Crucible Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

Inside This Article

The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, is a timeless classic that explores themes of power, hysteria, and morality in the context of the Salem witch trials. This play continues to be studied and analyzed in classrooms around the world, making it a popular choice for essay topics. If you're struggling to come up with ideas for your essay on The Crucible, don't worry ''' we've got you covered with 128 topic ideas and examples to inspire you.

Analyze the character of John Proctor and his role in the play.

Discuss the theme of power and its effects on the characters in The Crucible.

Explore the role of religion in the Salem witch trials and in the play.

Compare and contrast the characters of Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor.

Examine the theme of hysteria in The Crucible and its relevance to modern society.

Discuss the symbolism of the title "The Crucible" and its significance in the play.

Analyze the relationship between John Proctor and his wife, Elizabeth, and how it evolves throughout the play.

Explore the theme of justice in The Crucible and how it is portrayed.

Discuss the role of the supernatural in the play and its impact on the characters.

Examine the theme of reputation and how it motivates the characters' actions in the play.

Compare and contrast the characters of Reverend Parris and Reverend Hale.

Analyze the role of fear in the Salem witch trials and in The Crucible.

Discuss the theme of guilt and redemption in the play.

Explore the theme of betrayal and its consequences in The Crucible.

Examine the role of women in the play and how they are portrayed.

Analyze the theme of intolerance and its effects on the characters in The Crucible.

Discuss the theme of truth and lies in the play and how they shape the characters' actions.

Compare and contrast the characters of Mary Warren and Tituba.

Explore the theme of mass hysteria and its causes in The Crucible.

Analyze the role of authority figures in the play and how they contribute to the events of the Salem witch trials.

Discuss the theme of scapegoating in The Crucible and its consequences.

Examine the theme of judgment and how it is portrayed in the play.

Analyze the theme of manipulation and deceit in The Crucible.

Explore the theme of vengeance and its effects on the characters in the play.

Discuss the theme of forgiveness and its significance in The Crucible.

Compare and contrast the characters of Giles Corey and Thomas Putnam.

Analyze the role of the court in the Salem witch trials and in The Crucible.

Discuss the theme of mass hysteria and its relevance to modern society.

Examine the theme of paranoia and how it influences the characters' actions in the play.

Analyze the theme of individual vs. society in The Crucible.

Discuss the theme of morality and ethics in the play.

Analyze the theme of power and corruption in The Crucible.

Explore the role of fear in the characters' decision-making in the play.

Discuss the theme of loyalty and betrayal in The Crucible.

Examine the theme of redemption and its significance in the play.

Analyze the role of religion in the characters' lives and how it influences their actions.

Discuss the theme of hysteria and its effects on the characters in The Crucible.

Explore the theme of truth and lies in the play and how they shape the characters' actions.

Analyze the theme of reputation and how it motivates the characters' actions in the play.

Discuss the theme of authority and how it is portrayed in the play.

Discuss the theme of vengeance and its effects on the characters in the play.

Explore the theme of forgiveness and its significance in The Crucible.

Discuss the theme of hysteria and

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Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Books — The Crucible

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Essays on The Crucible

The crucible essay topic examples.

Engage deeply with the themes and characters in Arthur Miller's timeless play, The Crucible . Find a selection of essay topics, introduction paragraph examples, and conclusion paragraph examples for various essay types. Remember, your choice of topic can significantly impact the quality and depth of your essay.

Argumentative Essays

Argumentative essays require you to analyze and present arguments related to the play. Here are some topic examples:

  • 1. Analyze the role of fear and hysteria in driving the events of The Crucible .
  • 2. Argue whether John Proctor's decision to confess or maintain his innocence is more heroic.

Example Introduction Paragraph for an Argumentative Essay: Arthur Miller's The Crucible unfurls a harrowing tale of fear, suspicion, and mass hysteria in the context of the Salem witch trials. This essay delves into the pivotal role played by fear and hysteria in the unfolding drama, examining their effects on the characters and society in the crucible of accusations and trials.

Example Conclusion Paragraph for an Argumentative Essay: In conclusion, the exploration of fear and hysteria in The Crucible underscores their destructive power on both individual lives and the fabric of a community. As we reflect on the events in Salem, we are compelled to consider the consequences of allowing fear to govern our actions and judgments.

Compare and Contrast Essays

Compare and contrast essays enable you to examine similarities and differences within the play or between it and other literary works. Consider these topics:

  • 1. Compare and contrast the characters of John Proctor and Giles Corey in terms of their moral integrity.
  • 2. Analyze the similarities and differences between the Salem witch trials depicted in The Crucible and the McCarthy era's witch hunt for communists in the 1950s.

Example Introduction Paragraph for a Compare and Contrast Essay: The characters of John Proctor and Giles Corey in Arthur Miller's The Crucible offer contrasting perspectives on moral integrity and resistance to injustice. This essay explores the distinctive qualities of these characters, shedding light on their respective roles in the tumultuous world of Salem.

Example Conclusion Paragraph for a Compare and Contrast Essay: In conclusion, the comparison and contrast of John Proctor and Giles Corey illuminate the multifaceted nature of moral integrity and resistance in the face of persecution. By examining these characters in tandem, we gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of human virtue and defiance.

Descriptive Essays

Descriptive essays allow you to vividly depict settings, characters, or events within the play. Explore these topic ideas:

  • 1. Describe the eerie atmosphere of the courtroom during the witch trials in The Crucible .
  • 2. Paint a detailed portrait of Abigail Williams, focusing on her motivations and manipulative tactics.

Example Introduction Paragraph for a Descriptive Essay: The courtroom scenes in Arthur Miller's The Crucible are charged with tension and suspense. This essay endeavors to capture the haunting atmosphere of the courtroom during the witch trials, immersing the reader in the unsettling dynamics of the accusers and the accused.

Example Conclusion Paragraph for a Descriptive Essay: In conclusion, the descriptive portrayal of the courtroom in The Crucible not only serves as a backdrop but also mirrors the oppressive weight of injustice and fear. Through this exploration, we are reminded of the enduring power of setting and atmosphere in storytelling.

Persuasive Essays

Persuasive essays involve arguing a point of view related to the play. Consider these persuasive topics:

  • 1. Persuade your readers that Abigail Williams is the most morally reprehensible character in The Crucible .
  • 2. Argue for or against the idea that the play is a timeless cautionary tale about the dangers of religious extremism.

Example Introduction Paragraph for a Persuasive Essay: Abigail Williams, in Arthur Miller's The Crucible , emerges as a character shrouded in moral ambiguity and manipulation. This essay takes a persuasive stance in asserting that Abigail is the most morally reprehensible character, examining her actions and motivations within the crucible of Salem.

Example Conclusion Paragraph for a Persuasive Essay: In conclusion, the persuasive argument against Abigail Williams in The Crucible highlights the character's destructive influence and moral culpability. As we reflect on the consequences of her actions, we are reminded of the dangers of unchecked ambition and manipulation in society.

Narrative Essays

Narrative essays offer you the opportunity to tell a story or share personal experiences related to the themes of The Crucible . Explore these narrative essay topics:

  • 1. Narrate a personal experience where you faced a moral dilemma similar to those in the play.
  • 2. Imagine yourself as a character in Salem during the witch trials and recount your experiences.

Example Introduction Paragraph for a Narrative Essay: In the crucible of everyday life, we often encounter moral dilemmas that challenge our principles and values. This narrative essay delves into a personal experience where I grappled with a moral dilemma akin to those faced by characters in Arthur Miller's The Crucible .

Example Conclusion Paragraph for a Narrative Essay: In conclusion, the narrative of my personal moral dilemma reflects the enduring relevance of the themes in The Crucible . It reminds us of the constant tension between individual conscience and societal pressure, urging us to reflect on the choices we make in our own lives.

Examples of Reputation in The Crucible

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Reverend Hale: The Crucible Analysis

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Self-reflection and Integrity in "The Crucible"

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Analysis of John Proctor as Tragic Hero in "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller

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January 22, 1953, Arthur Miller

Play; Tragedy

Abigail Williams, Reverend John Hale, Reverend Samuel Parris, John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, Thomas Danforth, Mary Warren, John Hathorne, Giles Corey, Rebecca Nurse

McCarthyism allegory, which stands for the American prosecution of people accused of being communists.

Intolerance, Puritanism, Reputation, Hysteria, Goodness, Judgment

Historical reference to the Salem witch trials, which became a mental mirror of political hysteria.

It is based around a fictional story that speaks of Salem witch trials that take place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony with the young village girls being accused of witchcraft. As the girls are being caught by the local minister after being seen with the black slave named Tituba, one of the girls falls into a coma, which is seen as witchcraft. This Salem witch trial acts as the allegory of people being accused of Communist views.

One of the key themes in The Crucible is the aspect of goodness because every character in the book is concerned about religious factors and the ways how they will be judged by God after they die. It brings out a distorted view in terms of how far a person can go by accusing others or giving prompts of someone’s being wrong or bad. As the topics of conspiracy and being a silent witness clash in the book, it shows various comparisons of the Bay Colony to post WW2 society and the influence of the Communists. It can be approached as a reflection that one should use when thinking of what being honest and “finding one’s goodness” means.

FBI wanted the author to change one of his screenplays to make his script PRO-American by not making gangsters look like Communists. Miller's friends were also persecuted as they were asked to name those people they knew who could be the Communists. Miller tried to use as many facts as he could when speaking of Salem in 1692. The linguistic that is used in the play was converted to various speech patterns that have been used in the past and the territory. The Crucible did not have Broadway success in the beginning. Arthur Miller's passport was denied in Europe as he was told to leave since his views were against the national interests. The play has turned Salem into a popular tourist destination.

"Until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven." "I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another. I have no tongue for it." "It is rare for people to be asked the question which puts them squarely in front of themselves." "A child's spirit is like a child, you can never catch it by running after it; you must stand still, and, for love, it will soon itself come back." "We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!"

It is an important subject when writing about inconsistencies and judgment in our society. The Crucible is a great reflection of various political agendas, religion, and social bias. Reading through the play, we are also looking at ourselves, which is why the book can be compared to any social injustice or any act where stereotypes have been used. You can use this book as a way to implement quotes when comparing anything from cheating to honesty.

Abigail Williams, the main protagonist, had an affair with John Proctor.

1. Salisbury, N. (2004). In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692. By Mary Beth Norton.(New York: Knopf, 2002. 436 pp. $30.00, isbn 0-375-40709-X.). (https://academic.oup.com/jah/article-abstract/91/1/201/762359) 2. Andrews, D. (2003). Mary Beth Norton, In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. vii 436 pp. ISBN 0-375-40709-X. Itinerario, 27(2), 177-179. (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/itinerario/article/abs/mary-beth-norton-in-the-devils-snare-the-salem-witchcraft-crisis-of-1692-new-york-alfred-a-knopf-2002-vii-436-pp-isbn-037540709x/6A82CB362650054F3A059109B7C04FAA) 3. Budick, E.M. (1985). History and Other Spectres in Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Modern Drama 28(4), 535-552 (https://muse.jhu.edu/pub/50/article/498714/summary) 4. Popkin, H. (1964). Arthur Miller's" The Crucible". College English, 26(2), 139-146. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/373665) 5. Curtis, P. (1965). The Crucible. Critical Review, 8, 45. (https://www.proquest.com/openview/5dd8ecd8022057c725bea9b694347a10/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1817655) 6. Gerstle, G. (2017). American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9781400883097/html#APA) 7. Miller, T. (2023). The Crucible: McCarthyism and a Historical View of Witch Hunts. Humanities. (https://owlcation.com/humanities/The-Crucible-McCarthyism-and-a-Historical-View-of-Witch-Hunts) 8. Aziz, A. (2016). Using the past to intervene in the present: spectacular framing in Arthur Miller's The Crucible. New Theatre Quarterly, 32(2), 169-180. (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/new-theatre-quarterly/article/abs/using-the-past-to-intervene-in-the-present-spectacular-framing-in-arthur-millers-the-crucible/8B437FE241799B43CF0F11838CC4D7E1) 9. Martin, R.A. (1977). Arthur Miller's The Crucible: Background and Sources. Modern Drama 20(3), 279-292. (https://muse.jhu.edu/pub/50/article/502227/summary)

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the crucible essay titles

crucible essay topics

104 The Crucible Essay Topics For In Depth Analysis

The Crucible is a seventeenth-century play authored by Arthur Miller. The play explains what happened to a group of young Salem women who accused other villagers of witchcraft.

Although fictionalized, the play is based on a true-life story, characterized by John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, Abigail Williams, Rebecca, Reverend Hale, Mrs., and Danforth.

The book is significant to high school, college, and university students, and this is because teachers and professors widely recommend it.

The Crucible is about a real-life trial that occurred in Massachusetts around 1692 to 1693. In the book, over 200 villagers were accused of witchcraft by the Salem women, and 19 people were hanged.

Before you decide to get on The Crucible essay prompts or the Salem Witch Trials essay topics, know the play is so vast it covers everything about life. Aside from the play exploring the allegory of the Salem Witch Trials, it also lays bare the spheres of humanity at the individual and the community level. Regardless, find below The Crucible cause and effect topics for your English essays and research.

The Crucible Essay Guideline

To write a good literature essay on The Crucible, try your best to keep in mind a few of these points. This will help you develop and write a successful Crucible essay your teachers will appreciate and grant you top marks for. Here’s some advice:

  • Engaging Introduction: All essays begin with an intro, and your literature essay is not an exclusion. In the introduction you have to properly introduce the topic and state your thesis. The extensive list below can provide you with ideas on good topics that can fuel your analysis.
  • Solid Structure: A great essay will have a solid, clear structure which aids in communicating the information in an understandable way. When there is structure and form to the essay then the reader will have a clearer understanding of the points you are trying to make. A traditional structure is made up of: an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion.
  • Cite Your Sources: If you are using external readings and sources, make sure to cite them in the correct format. The most popular ones are MLA and APA citation formats, but you should specify with your teacher what to use.
  • Valid Support: When analyzing a piece of literature, you have to give supporting examples to explain your statements and interpretations. Usually you can use a paragraph to talk about one idea.
  • Editing: A key aspect to remember is editing your essay. A well edited essay will come across as complete and well rounded. It will show that you care about your work, so make sure to leave time for the editing process.

If you keep these details in mind, your Crucible essay will come out fantastic!

The Crucible Essay Topics

For the Crucible reputation essay, you can have an in depth insight into what the drama is all about by going through topics. So, if you need essay topics for The Crucible, you can consider the following:

  • Examine how Arthur Miller explored thematic questions from the start of the drama till the end.
  • Examine the reasons why the villagers accused those who are different from the agreed norm.
  • Evaluate why those who are in on evil are not accused, although there are rightful suspicions.
  • Give an overview of the drama, The Crucible, and how it was valuable to the society Arthur Miller lived in.
  • Give an insight into how The Crucible is still valuable today and how it can be said to be a timeless drama.
  • Examine the technical features of the drama, including the language, time, and place.
  • Examine the issues that were visible in The Crucible that are still evident in today’s society.
  • Examine the challenges of Reverend Hale and the changes he went through in Arthur Miller’s 1953 drama.
  • Examine the opinions of previous writers on the Salem Witch Trials.
  • Read journals about the real-life Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts and relate it to the facts in the drama.
  • Examine how the judgment of Judge Hawthorne showed that he abused his power.
  • Examine why Tituba is described as one of the most sympathetic characters in the 1953 drama.
  • Would you consider John Proctor an example of a classic tragic hero in the Crucible?
  • What do you think are the social and political undertones that follow the accusations of witchcraft in the drama?
  • Examine the dynamics of the character, John Proctor, and his dilemma throughout the work.
  • Would you say there would be different narratives if the drama had been written by any other playwright today?
  • Examine the drama as a symbol of political or historical event of your choice.
  • Examine the seven deadly sins which were discussed in the book and how it relates to the present world.
  • Analyze the tests that the characters who were accused of witchcraft has RJ face and pass your comment on them.
  • Would you say the people in the drama were greedy? Back up your assertion with evidence.

The Crucible Research Topics

The Crucible essay may be thrilling to write about as an interesting and engaging drama. To enhance your encounter with it, consider the Crucible research topics or the Crucible reputation topics. The following are topics that discussed the nitty-gritty of the book:

  • Discuss the reputation and development of any five characters of your choice throughout the play.
  • Discuss the role of the community in the events that led to the arrest of the alleged witches.
  • Give a comprehensive analysis of the Salem trial downfall and the roles the active characters played.
  • Give a careful examination of the actions of Reverend Parris concerning his motive in supporting the witch trial.
  • What is the role of the government of Salem in all the events that unfold?
  • Explicitly discuss the relationship between Proctor and Elizabeth and how it may have been a decisive factor in Abigail’s actions.
  • In the literal sense, explain the meaning of the Crucible and how the title applies to the actions in the drama.
  • Compare and contrast the negative and positive features of Proctor and his wife.
  • Elizabeth is the leader of the naked girl: write a thorough overview about her and what she did in the forest. Would you say she can be labeled a witch?
  • Discuss Abigail’s plan in getting rid of Elizabeth. How did the forest display help in executing the plan?
  • Discuss what happened in the forest and why the girls are found naked.
  • Discuss the morals of John Proctor concerning his flaws.
  • The effect of society in the psychology of Abigail.
  • Analyze the concept of morality and the position of Puritans regarding individual and collective effort.
  • The drama is tragedy: support your claims.
  • Describe the expected mood of the community if almost all the prominent families were executed.
  • Using the definition of evil in the book, compare and contrast the evil actions of the characters.
  • The prevalent deadly sins in the Crucible.
  • Using the women in John Proctor’s life as a case study, clearly state the implication of an impossible love.
  • What was the text in the drama? Which character(s) failed the test.

The Crucible Literary Analysis Essay Topics

Salem Witch Trials essay topics may interest you as you may want to consider the cause and effect topics through in depth research. Consider these essay prompts for the Crucible:

  • Give a thorough examination on if the Marxist critical lens or the feminist critical lens is employed in the 1953 drama of Arthur Miller.
  • Give an overview of how Arthur Miller treated his women in his 1953 book.
  • Examine the most central theme in the drama regarding the elements of drama that Aristotle provides.
  • Give a thorough examination of how the Puritan form of child abuse and its influence.
  • What do you understand by any two themes of the play in relationship to reality.
  • Identify the most dangerous fallacies in the 1953 play.
  • Examine the importance of religion in 1953 in the work.
  • Would you say that the downfall of Salem contributed to the central theme in the book?
  • Examine the portrayal of Giles Corey as a foolish character, although he’s later revealed with a different attribute.
  • Would you say that Abigail Williams is the typical evil woman in today’s context?
  • Examine the life and activities of Abigail Williams as an obsessive woman and a liar in the 1953 book.
  • Analyze the role played by characters like Abigail Williams and her cohorts in the book.
  • Examine the drama with any other drams you have read and analyze their similarities.
  • Would you say that feminism is fundamentally also against women, given the activities of Abigail in the book?
  • Examine the role of the assertion of witchery in the book and how Arthur Miller used the rhetoric to form his Arguments.
  • Examine how any five of the characters of your choice developed a reputation.
  • Examine the process of discovery for Reverend Hale, Elizabeth Proctor, and John Proctor.
  • Study the effect of the time and place of writing the drama on Arthur Miller.
  • Give an argument to buttress the point that Abigail Williams has the most significant fault in the events of the play.
  • Who is the savior of the play, in your opinion, and what did the person do?

The Crucible Themes Essay Topics

The Crucible presents themes that border around lies, deceit, ulterior motive, fear, and fear-induced actions. These themes gave Arthur Miller’s work a reflecting capacity of man‘s response to dire situations. The themes include:

  • The influence of society in cocooning toxic behavior.
  • Implications of poor investigation in a judicial system.
  • The notion of human cruelty in the name of religion.
  • Intolerance, as inspired by the book
  • Actions and consequences.
  • Infidelity .
  • Ownership and property.
  • The destructive power of deception
  • False accusations as the greatest injustice.
  • The unhealthy effect of class division prevalent in 1600
  • The judgment below reasonable doubt.
  • Upholding of reputation to the detriment of others.
  • The thin line between ignorance and wisdom.
  • The deciding power of authority.
  • Hysteria and corruption.
  • The essence of obsession.
  • The influence of the theocratic state.
  • Hysterical characters.
  • The risks of reputation.
  • Righteousness is an agreed disguise.

The Crucible Argumentative Essay Topics

The primary purpose of an argumentative essay is to draw an inference based on facts. These are the Crucible essay questions that should be asked for an informative idea about the story. You can consider these topics:

  • Why do we need to read the Crucible at all?
  • Examine the Crucible as a tragedy through Aristotle’s six elements of tragedy
  • Those religious practices in the Crucible still exist
  • Would there be any difference if the drama were written at another time and place?
  • How does religion influence morality, as shown in the drama?
  • What are the causes and effects of the Crucible in its literal sense?
  • Is witch execution effective in raising social standards as depicted in the book?
  • Does Arthur Miller support the witch hunt and execution in the 1953 book?
  • The practice of accusing innocent people cannot end: discuss.
  • Abigail’s actions are justified because she’s a victim of social injustice.
  • Did the epiphany of Reverend Hale make positive or negative changes?
  • The Salem trials is a replica of the cancel culture: discuss.
  • How is the Massachusetts Bay Colony even similar to the drama.
  • Would you blame Abigail or the community in the book?
  • John Proctor affair, what is your idea of the seducer?
  • Comment on John Proctor as an honest, upright man.
  • Examine if Abigail Williams is genuinely a reliable witness.
  • There is an irony revealed about Salem in the book, discuss.
  • Making inferences to the book: all judges are evil. Comment.

The Crucible Writing Prompts

If you like writing prompts to flex your creative muscle, you can consider the following topics as college and university students. Note that all these center on the significance of the story:

  • The end justifies the means: comment on Abigail’s actions.
  • How does the book relate to the Holocaust?
  • The play: what is real and what is not real?
  • The book has more significant meanings than it is shown; discuss.
  • Abigail’s actions are disgusting: discuss.

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, most important themes in the crucible, analyzed.

Book Guides

The Crucible remains a staple of high school English because it is rich in themes that are consistently relevant to human beings regardless of time period. But these themes aren't always easy to explain or dissect in the context of the play, and they can be even harder to develop into essays. Read on for an overview of what a theme is, a list of important themes in The Crucible with specific act-by-act details, and a summary of how to use this information in your essays and other assignments.  

What’s a Theme? Why Are Themes Important?

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of how  The Crucible  themes are expressed, let's do a quick overview of what themes are and why they matter. A theme is a central topic that is addressed by a work of literature. Themes can be expressed in many different ways. In the case of a play like The Crucible , themes are revealed mainly through the dialogue of the characters. They're also revealed though events in the plot. 

Themes tell us what the purpose of the work is. What is the writer attempting to convey to the viewer? The Crucible 's themes have lent the play artistic longevity because they're more or less universal to the human experience across time.  If you hope to write an awesome essay on  The Crucible , you should have extensive knowledge of its themes. If you can show that you understand the themes of a work of literature, you've clearly mastered the material on a deeper level.  In the next few sections, I'll take a look at a group of broad themes in  The Crucible , including irony, hysteria, reputation, and power.

Theme 1: Irony

First off, what is irony? Many people are under the impression that irony is just when something happens that you don't expect (or that you really hoped wouldn't happen). In reality, true irony only happens when a situation is the exact opposite of what you would expect.  The classic example of an incorrect use of irony is in Alanis Morisette's song "Ironic" when she says that "rain on your wedding day" is an example of irony. Well, it's not. Sure, you don't expect or want rain, but it's not the polar opposite of getting married. A real example of irony would be if two married guests got into a fight about going to your wedding that ended in their divorce.

Irony abounds throughout The Crucible  as  characters who believe they are combating the Devil’s handiwork actually perform it themselves.   The ruthlessness with which the suspected witches are treated is aimed at purifying Salem, but it achieves the opposite outcome. The town slips further and further into chaos and paranoia until it reaches a point of total devastation.  As Reverend Hale says to Danforth, “Excellency, there are orphans wandering from house to house; abandoned cattle bellow on the highroads, the stink of rotting crops hangs everywhere, and no man knows when the harlots’ cry will end his life - and you wonder yet if rebellion’s spoke?” (Act 4, pg. 121).

The court's attempts to preserve Puritan morality by arresting and executing accused witches ironically lead to the removal of the most virtuous people from society. These people are the only ones who refuse to throw out false accusations or lie about involvement in witchcraft, so they find themselves condemned (this is the fate of Rebecca Nurse). This means that much of the population that remains is comprised of the power-hungry, the selfish, and the cowardly. 

There are several ironies in Act 1 that center around Abigail Williams. In her conversation with John, Abigail claims that he helped her realize all the lies she was told by two-faced people in Salem who only publicly adhere to the conventions of respectable society (pg. 22).  The irony is that, in the face of John’s rejection, Abigail turns around and creates her own lies soon after that give her increased control over the society she resents.  She puts on a fake front to get what she wants, ultimately creating a persona that’s even worse than that of the hypocrites she criticizes.   Abigail’s many deceptions are sometimes laughably ironic as she chastises others for lying even as she is spinning falsehoods.  In this act, she yells “Don’t lie!” at Tituba immediately before she tells some of the most damning lies of the play accusing Tituba of witchcraft (“ She comes to me while I sleep; she’s always making me dream corruptions!” pg. 41).

Hale also makes some unintentionally ironic statements in Act 1 when he begins his investigation.  He claims that they must not jump to conclusions based on superstition in their investigation of Betty’s affliction.  Hale is convinced that a scientific inquiry based only on facts and reality can be conducted to detect a supernatural presence. This is ironic because   searching for "the Devil's marks" as the potential cause of an ailment is inherently superstitious.

Once the accusations begin, Parris initiates an ironic thought process that persists throughout The Crucible: “You will confess yourself or I will take you out and whip you to your death, Tituba!” (pg. 42).  This “confess or die” mindset is one of the central ironies of the play.  The whole purpose of a trial is to hear both sides of the story before a verdict is reached.  In telling people they must confess to their crimes or be hanged, the officials show that they have already decided the person is guilty no matter what evidence is provided in their defense.

In Act 2, John Proctor’s guilt over his affair with Abigail is demonstrated through an ironic exchange with Reverend Hale. When Hale asks him to recite his commandments, the only one he forgets is adultery.  This is also the commandment that he has violated most explicitly , so you’d think it would be the first one to spring to mind.  The fact that he forgets only this commandment shows that he is trying extremely hard to repress his guilt.

This act also sees the irony of Hale discussing the “powers of the dark” that are attacking Salem (pg. 61).  This is irony of the same type that I discussed in the overview of this theme.  Hale doesn’t realize that his own fears and suspicions are the real powers of the dark.   Salem is under attack from the hysteria that is encouraged by the same people who seek to keep imaginary supernatural demons at bay.

In Act 3, Hale continues to make ironic statements about the existence of concrete proof for the accusations of witchcraft.  While touting his holy credentials, he claims that he “dare not take a life without there be a proof so immaculate no slightest qualm of my conscience may doubt it” (pg. 91).  This “immaculate proof” that has led him to sign numerous death warrants is nothing but the fabrications of teenage girls and other townspeople seeking petty revenge.  These types of statements made by Hale earlier in the play become even more ironic in Act 4 when he realizes he made a horrible mistake by trusting the “evidence” that was presented to him.

Abigail’s presence is always rife with irony in The Crucible , as she constantly chastises others for sins she herself has committed.  When she is brought in for questioning and claims to see Mary’s familiar spirit, she says “Envy is a deadly sin, Mary.” Abigail herself has acted out of envy for the entire play.  Her jealousy of Elizabeth Proctor’s position as John’s wife has led her to attempted murder, first by the charm in the woods and now by accusing Elizabeth of witchcraft. 

Elizabeth is a victim of cruel irony in this Act when she is summoned to testify on the reasons why she dismissed Abigail from her household.  John has already confessed that the affair was the reason for Abigail’s dismissal.  John tells the judge to summon Elizabeth to back him up because he knows she always tells the truth.  Ironically, though she is normally honest to a fault, in this situation Elizabeth decides to lie to preserve John’s reputation, not knowing he has already confessed.  This well-intentioned mistake seals both of their fates. 

Act 4 is Danforth’s turn to shine in the irony department.  He is appalled by Elizabeth’s lack of emotion when he asks her to help the court get a confession out of her husband (pg. 123).  This attitude comes from a man who has shown no remorse for condemning people to death throughout the play.  He refers to John’s refusal to confess as “a calamity,” looking past his own involvement in the larger calamity of the conviction that led John to this point.   

Later in Act 4, Danforth becomes angry at the implication that John’s confession may not be the truth. He insists,  “I am not empowered to trade your life for a lie” (pg. 130). Of course, we know that Danforth has been trading people’s lives for lies this whole time.  He has sentenced people to death based on lies about their dealings in black magic, and he has accepted other false confessions from those who would rather lie than be executed.  To Danforth, anything that doesn’t confirm that he was right all along is a lie. 

Discussion Questions

Here are a few questions related to this theme that you can use to test your grasp of irony and its significance as a theme in The Crucible : 

  • How is Parris’ fate in act 4 ironic when considering his role in the events of the play?
  • Why do certain characters seem to be blind to the irony of their actions (Abigail, Danforth)?
  • Why is hypocrisy so common in repressive communities like Salem?
  • Explain the irony of Hale’s position at the end of the play as compared to his actions at the beginning.   


Theme 2: Hysteria

The thematic significance of hysteria builds quickly as accusations of witchcraft proliferate throughout Salem.  The power of collective hysteria ultimately becomes insurmountable because it grows larger than the influence of the few rational voices in the community. The seeds are planted in Act 1, when Abigail is questioned about her activities in the woods and ends up accusing Tituba of witchcraft to avoid punishment.  The town, already primed with rumors of black magic, is quickly willing to accept that the first few women who are accused are involved in black magic because they’re beggars and slaves.  No one considers that the accusers are lying, partially because they’re seen as innocent children and partially because many “witches” confess to avoid the death penalty.

Armed with the false proof of these coerced confessions, the court officials aggressively persecute anyone who is accused.  Hysteria blinds the people of Salem to reason as they become convinced that there is a grand Satanic plot brewing in town, and they must not hesitate to condemn anyone who could be involved.   This is a lesson in how fear can twist perceptions of reality even for those who consider themselves reasonable under normal circumstances.   

Even before Abigail makes accusations, rumors of witchcraft have morphed into accepted truths in the minds of the more superstitious members of the community.   Ann Putnam jumps at any opportunity to blame supernatural forces for the deaths of her children.  Ann’s extreme conclusions are gradually accepted because rational people are too afraid to challenge the consensus and risk bringing accusations upon themselves.  Hale’s involvement is taken to mean that there must be a supernatural element to Betty’s illness.  Rational explanations are ground up by the drama of the rumor mill, and people see only what they want to see (whatever keeps them in the good graces of society and  makes them feel the best about themselves ) in situations that don't appear to have easy explanations.

The madness begins in earnest with Abigail’s claim that Tituba and Ruth were conjuring spirits in the woods.  Parris is extremely dismayed by this revelation because of the damage it will do to his reputation.  Thomas Putnam tells him to “Wait for no one to charge you - declare it yourself.”  Parris must rush to be the first accuser so he can place himself beyond reproach. It's a toxic strategy that causes panic to spread quickly and fear for one’s life to take the place of rationality.  Tituba is pressured to confess and name the names of other “witches” to avoid execution, which leads to Abigail and Betty’s accusations, now validated by a coerced confession.  This vicious cycle continues to claim the lives of more and more people as the play progresses.

By Act 2, there are nearly 40 people in jail accused of witchcraft.  Many people confess when threatened with execution, and this only heightens the paranoid atmosphere.  The authorities ignore any inconvenient logical objections to the proceedings because they, too, are swept up in the madness. The hysterical atmosphere and the dramatic performances of some of the accusers cause people to believe they have seen genuine proof of witchcraft.  Each new false confession is thrown onto the pile of “evidence” of a grand Satanic plot, and as the pile grows larger, the hysteria surrounding it is fed generously.

This hysteria-based “evidence” of witchcraft includes the discovery of the poppet in the Proctor household with a needle in it.  Elizabeth's side of the story is disregarded because Abigail’s testimony is far more dramatic.  "She sat to dinner in Reverend Parris's house tonight, and without word nor warnin' she falls to the floor. Like a struck beast, he says, and screamed a scream that a bull would weep to hear. And he goes to save her, and, stuck two inches in the flesh of her belly, he draw a needle out." (Cheever pg. 71). The idea that a witch's familiar spirit is capable of stabbing people is too scary for the superstitious and now hysterical people of Salem to give Elizabeth the benefit of the doubt. No one even considers Mary's statement about sticking the needle in herself. In this environment, whoever yells the loudest seems to get the most credibility.

The depths of the hysteria that has gripped Salem are revealed in Act 3 when John finally confronts the court. Danforth makes a shocking argument defending the way the trials have been conducted, insisting that only the victim’s testimony can serve as reliable evidence in this type of trial.   He is completely oblivious to the fact that the “victims” might be lying.  The court refuses to challenge anyone who claims to have been afflicted. 

When the petition testifying to the good character of the accused women is presented, the reaction from Danforth, Hathorne, and Parris is to arrest the people who signed it rather than considering that this might indicate that the women are innocent.   Danforth is convinced that “there is a moving plot to topple Christ in the country!” and anyone who doubts the decisions of the court is potentially involved.  They so fear the devilish consequences of challenging the accusers that they’re willing to take them at their word and ignore any defenses the accused have to offer.  Nowhere is there any consideration of ulterior motives.  

The power of mass hysteria is further revealed when Mary is unable to faint outside of a charged courtroom environment.  She believed she had seen spirits earlier because she was caught up in the delusions of those around her.  Abigail distracts the judges from any rational investigation in this act by playing into this hysteria.  Danforth, who has the most authority, is also the most sold on her act, and it only takes a few screams to persuade him that he’s in the presence of witchcraft.  This leads to Mary’s hysterical accusation of Proctor after she finds herself targeted by the other girls and about to be consumed by the hysteria herself if she doesn’t contribute to it. 

Danforth continues to demonstrate the effects of hysteria in act 4 even after things have died down a bit in Salem and there have been rumblings of discontent about the court’s actions.  As John gives his confession, Danforth says to Rebecca Nurse “Now, woman, you surely see it profit nothin’ to keep this conspiracy any further. Will you confess yourself with him?” (pg. 129)  He is still convinced that all the prisoners are guilty and is determined to force them to admit their guilt. 

Danforth also becomes frustrated with Proctor when he won’t name names in his confession : “Mr. Proctor, a score of people have already testified they saw [Rebecca Nurse] with the Devil” (pg. 130).  Danforth insists that John must know more about the Devil's dealings than he has revealed.  Though Rebecca Nurse's involvement has already been corroborated by other confessors, Danforth demands to hear it from John to confirm that John is fully committed to renouncing his supposed ties to Satan.

Here are a few questions about hysteria to consider now that you've read a summary of how this theme was expressed throughout the plot of the play:

  • How does the hysteria in the play get started?
  • What are some of the factors that feed the panic and suspicion in Salem, and why are officials (like Danforth) unable or unwilling to listen to reason?
  • Is there any character besides John Proctor that represents the voice of common sense amidst the madness?
  • Why is Cheever both astonished and afraid when he finds the poppet with the needle in it? Why is everyone so quick to believe Abigail’s story?
  • Danforth explains that witchcraft is an invisible crime and that only the victims are reliable. How does this philosophy perpetuate hysteria?


Theme 3: Reputation

Concern for reputation is a theme that looms large over most of the events in The Crucible.  Though actions are often motivated by fear and desires for power and revenge, they are also propped up by underlying worries about how a loss of reputation will negatively affect characters' lives.   John’s concern for his reputation is strong throughout the play, and his hesitation to reveal Abigail’s true nature is a product of his own fears of being labeled an adulterer. 

Once there have been enough convictions, the reputations of the judges also become factors. They are extremely biased towards believing they have made the correct sentencing decisions in court thus far, so they are reluctant to accept new evidence that may prove them wrong.  The importance placed on reputation helps perpetuate hysteria because it leads to inaction, inflexibility, and, in many cases, active sabotage of the reputations of others for selfish purposes. The overall message is that when a person's actions are driven by desires to preserve favorable public opinion rather than do the morally right thing, there can be extremely dire consequences.

Reverend Parris' concerns about his reputation are immediately evident in Act 1. Parris initially insists that there are “no unnatural causes” for Betty’s illness because he fears that he will lose favor with the townspeople if witchcraft is discovered under his roof.  He questions Abigail aggressively because he’s worried his enemies will learn the full story of what happened in the woods first and use it to discredit him.  Parris is very quick to position himself on the side of the accusers as soon as Abigail throws the first punch, and he immediately threatens violence on Tituba if she doesn't confess (pg. 42).  He appears to have no governing system of morality. His only goal is to get on the good side of the community as a whole, even in the midst of this bout of collective hysteria.  

Abigail also shows concern for her reputation.  She is enraged when Parris questions her suspicious dismissal from the Proctor household.  Abigail insists that she did nothing to deserve it and tries to put all the blame on Elizabeth Proctor.  She says, "My name is good in the village! I will not have it said my name is soiled! Goody Proctor is a gossiping liar!" (pg. 12) The fi rst act of The Crucible  clearly establishes the fact that a bad reputation can damage a person’s position in this society severely and irreparably.

In this act, we learn more details about the accused that paint a clearer picture of the influence of reputation and social standing on the patterns of accusations.  Goody Good, an old beggar woman, is one of the first to be named a witch. I t’s easy for more respectable citizens to accept that she’s in league with the Devil because she is an "other" in Salem, just like Tituba.   When Abigail accuses Elizabeth, a respected farmer’s wife, it shows that she is willing to take big risks to remove Elizabeth from the picture.  She’s not a traditionally accepted target like the others (except in her susceptibility as a woman to the misogyny that runs rampant in the play).

In Act 2, the value of reputation in Salem starts to butt heads with the power of hysteria and fear to sway people’s opinions (and vengeance to dictate their actions).  Rebecca Nurse, a woman whose character was previously thought to be unimpeachable, is accused and arrested.  This is taken as evidence that things are really getting out of control ("if Rebecca Nurse be tainted, then nothing's left to stop the whole green world from burning." Hale pg. 67).  People in power continue to believe the accusers out of fear for their own safety, taking the hysteria to a point where no one is above condemnation.

At the end this act, John Proctor delivers a short monologue anticipating the imminent loss of the disguises of propriety worn by himself and other members of the Salem community.  The faces that people present to the public are designed to garner respect in the community, but the witch trials have thrown this system into disarray.   Proctor’s good reputation is almost a burden for him at this point because he knows that he doesn’t deserve it. In a way,   John welcomes the loss of his reputation because he feels so guilty about the disconnect between how he is perceived by others and the sins he has committed. 

John Proctor sabotages his own reputation in Act 3 after realizing it's the only way he can discredit Abigail.  This is a decision with dire consequences in a town where reputation is so important, a fact that contributes to the misunderstanding that follows.  Elizabeth doesn’t realize that John is willing to sacrifice his reputation to save her life.   She continues to act under the assumption that his reputation is of the utmost importance to him, and she does not reveal the affair. This lie essentially condemns both of them.    

Danforth also acts out of concern for his reputations here. He  references the many sentencing decisions he has already made in the trials of the accused. If Danforth accepts Mary’s testimony, it would mean that he wrongly convicted numerous people already. This fact could destroy his credibility , so he is biased towards continuing to trust Abigail.  Danforth has extensive pride in his intelligence and perceptiveness. This makes him particularly averse to accepting that he's been fooled by a teenage girl. 

Though hysteria overpowered the reputations of the accused in the past two acts, in act 4 the sticking power of their original reputations becomes apparent.  John and Rebecca’s solid reputations lead to pushback against their executions even though people were too scared to stand up for them in the midst of the trials.   Parris begs Danforth to postpone their hangings because he fears for his life if the executions proceed as planned.  He says, “I would to God it were not so, Excellency, but these people have great weight yet in the town” (pg. 118).

However, this runs up against Danforth’s desire to preserve his reputation as a strong judge.  He believes that “Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now. While I speak God’s law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering” (pg. 119).  Danforth’s image is extremely valuable to him, and he refuses to allow Parris’ concerns to disrupt his belief in the validity of his decisions.

In the final events of Act 4, John Proctor has a tough choice to make between losing his dignity and losing his life. The price he has to pay in reputation to save his own life is ultimately too high.  He chooses to die instead of providing a false confession because he doesn’t think life will be worth living after he is so disgraced. As he says,  “How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” (pg. 133)

Here are a few discussion questions to consider after you've read my summary of how the theme of reputation motivates characters and plot developments in The Crucible :

  • How are characters’ behaviors affected by concern for their reputations? Is reputation more important than truth?
  • Why doesn’t John immediately tell the court that he knows Abigail is faking?
  • How does Parris’ pride prevent him from doing anything to stop the progression of events in the play?
  • Why does Mary Warren warn John about testifying against Abigail? Why does he decide to do so anyways?
  • Why does John decide to ruin his reputation in Act 3 by confessing to the affair?
  • How is the arrest of  Rebecca Nurse a sign that the hysteria in Salem has gotten out of control?
  • How does reputation influence who is first accused of witchcraft?


Theme #4: Power and Authority

The desire to preserve and gain power pervades  The Crucible as the witch trials lead to dramatic changes in which characters hold the greatest control over the course of events.  Abigail’s power skyrockets as the hysteria grows more severe.  Where before she was just an orphaned teenager, now, in the midst of the trials, she becomes the main witness to the inner workings of a Satanic plot.  She has the power to utterly destroy people’s lives with a single accusation because she is seen as a victim and a savior.

The main pillars of traditional power are represented by the law and the church.  These two institutions fuse together in The Crucible to actively encourage accusers and discourage rational explanations of events. The girls are essentially given permission by authority figures to continue their act because they are made to feel special and important for their participation.  The people in charge are so eager to hold onto their power that if anyone disagrees with them in the way the trials are conducted, it is taken as a personal affront and challenge to their authority. Danforth, Hathorne, and Parris become even more rigid in their views when they feel they are under attack.  

As mentioned in the overview, religion holds significant power over the people of Salem.  Reverend Parris is in a position of power as the town's spiritual leader, but he is insecure about his authority.   He believes there is a group of people in town determined to remove him from this position, and he will say and do whatever it takes to retain control.   This causes problems down the line as Parris allows his paranoia about losing his position to translate into enthusiasm for the witch hunt. 

Abigail, on the other hand, faces an uphill battle towards more power over her situation.  She is clearly outspoken and dominant, but her initial position in society is one of very little influence and authority.  One path to higher standing and greater control would be in becoming John Proctor’s wife.  When she can’t get John to abandon Elizabeth for her, she decides to take matters into her own hands and gain control through manipulating the fears of others. 

Abigail accuses Tituba first because Tituba is the one person below her on the ladder of power, so she makes an easy scapegoat. If Tituba was permitted to explain what really happened, the ensuing tragedy might have been prevented.  No one will listen to Tituba until she agrees to confirm the version of events that the people in traditional positions of authority have already decided is true, a pattern which continues throughout the play.   Tituba is forced to accept her role as a pawn for those with greater authority and a stepping stone for Abigail’s ascent to power.

By Act 2, there have been notable changes in the power structure in Salem as a result of the ongoing trials.  Mary Warren’s sense of self-importance has increased as a result of the perceived value of her participation in court.   Elizabeth notes that Mary's demeanor is now like that of “the daughter of a prince” (pg. 50).  This new power is exciting and very dangerous because it encourages the girls to make additional accusations in order to preserve their value in the eyes of the court. 

Abigail, in particular, has quickly risen from a nobody to one of the most influential people in Salem.  Abigail’s low status and perceived innocence under normal circumstances allow her to claim even greater power in her current situation.  No one thinks a teenage orphan girl is capable of such extensive deception (or delusion), so she is consistently trusted.  In one of the most well-known quotes in the play, John Proctor angrily insists that “the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom” (pg. 73), meaning the girls are testing out the extent of the chaos they can create with their newfound power.

In Act 3, Abigail’s power in the courthouse is on display.  She openly threatens Danforth for even entertaining Mary and John's accusations of fraud against her. Though Danforth is the most powerful official figure in court, Abigail manipulates him easily with her performance as a victim of witchcraft. He's already accepted her testimony as evidence, so he is happy for any excuse to believe her over John and Mary. John finally comes to the realization that Mary's truthful testimony cannot compete with the hysteria that has taken hold of the court.  The petition he presents to Danforth is used as a weapon against the signers rather than a proof of the innocence of Elizabeth, Martha, and Rebecca. Abigail's version of events is held to be true even after John confesses to their affair in a final effort to discredit her.  Logic has no power to combat paranoia and superstition even when the claims of the girls are clearly fraudulent.  John Proctor surrenders his agency at the end of Act 3 in despair at the determination of the court to pursue the accusations of witchcraft and ignore all evidence of their falsehood.

By Act 4, many of the power structures that were firmly in place earlier in the play have disintegrated.  Reverend Parris has fallen from his position of authority as a result of the outcomes of the trials.   He is weak and vulnerable after Abigail's theft of his life's savings, and he’s even facing death threats from the townspeople as a result of John and Rebecca's imminent executions.  In Act 1 he jumped on board with the hysteria to preserve his power, but he ended up losing what little authority he had in the first place (and, according to Miller's afterward, was voted out of office soon after the end of the play). 

The prisoners have lost all faith in earthly authority figures and look towards the judgment of God.  The only power they have left is in refusing to confess and preserving their integrity. I n steadfastly refusing to confess, Rebecca Nurse holds onto a great deal of power.   The judges cannot force her to commit herself to a lie, and her martyrdom severely damages their legitimacy and favor amongst the townspeople.

Here are some discussion questions to consider after reading about the thematic role of the concepts of power and authority in the events of the play:

  • How do the witch trials empower individuals who were previously powerless?
  • How does Reverend Hale make Tituba feel important?
  • Compare and contrast three authority figures in this drama: Hale, Danforth, and Parris. What motivates their attitudes and responses toward the witch trials?
  • What makes Danforth so unwilling to consider that the girls could be pretending?
  • Why does Mary Warren behave differently when she becomes involved in the trials?  
  • How do the actions of authority figures encourage the girls to continue their accusations and even genuinely believe the lies they’re telling?


A Quick Look at Some Other The Crucible  Themes 

These are themes that could be considered subsets of the topics detailed in the previous sections, but there's also room to discuss them as topics in their own right. I'll give a short summary of how each plays a role in the events of The Crucible .

The theme of guilt is one that is deeply relevant to John Proctor's character development throughout the play. John feels incredibly ashamed of his affair with Abigail, so he tries to bury it and pretend it never happened. His guilt leads to great tension in interactions with Elizabeth because he projects his feelings onto her, accusing her of being judgmental and dwelling on his mistakes. In reality, he is constantly judging himself, and this leads to outbursts of anger against others who remind him of what he did (he already feels guilty enough!). Hale also contends with his guilt in act 4 for his role in condemning the accused witches , who he now believes are innocent.

There's a message here about the choices we have in dealing with guilt. John attempts to crush his guilt instead of facing it, which only ends up making it an even more destructive factor in his life. Hale tries to combat his guilt by persuading the prisoners to confess, refusing to accept that the damage has already been done. Both Hale and Proctor don't want to live with the consequences of their mistakes, so they try to ignore or undo their past actions. 

Misogyny and Portrayal of Women 

Miller's portrayal of women in The Crucible is a much-discussed topic. The attitudes towards women in the 1950s, when the play was written, are evident in the roles they're given. The most substantial female character is Abigail, who is portrayed as a devious and highly sexualized young woman. She is cast as a villain. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, we have Rebecca Nurse. She is a sensible, saintly old woman who chooses to martyr herself rather than lie and confess to witchcraft. The other two main female characters, Elizabeth and Mary Warren, are somewhat bland. Elizabeth is defined by her relationship to John, and Mary is pushed around by other characters (mostly men) throughout the play. The Crucible presents a view of women that essentially reduces them to caricatures of human beings that are defined by their roles as mothers, wives, and servants to men . Abigail, the one character who breaks from this mold slightly, is portrayed extremely unsympathetically despite the fact that the power dynamic between her and John makes him far more culpable in their illicit relationship.   

Deception is a major driving force in  The Crucible . This includes not only accusatory lies about the involvement of others in witchcraft but also the lies that people consistently tell about their own virtuousness and purity in such a repressive society. The turmoil in Salem is propelled forward by desires for revenge and power that have been simmering beneath the town's placid exterior.  There is a culture of keeping up appearances already in place, which makes it natural for people to lie about witnessing their neighbors partaking in Satanic rituals when the opportunity arises (especially if it means insulating themselves from similar accusations and even achieving personal gain). The Crucible provides an example of how convenient lies can build on one another to create a universally accepted truth even in the absence of any real evidence. 


How to Write About  The Crucible  Themes

It's one thing to understand the major themes in The Crucible , and it's another thing completely to write about them yourself. Essay prompts will ask about these themes in a variety of different ways. Some will be very direct. An example would be something like:

" How are themes like hysteria, hunger for power, reputation, or any of a number of others functional in the drama? Choose a single character and discuss how this person embodies one of the themes. How is Miller’s underlying message revealed in one of these themes and through the character?"  

In a case like this, you'd be writing directly about a specific theme in connection to one of the characters. Essay questions that ask about themes in this straightforward way can be tricky because there's a temptation to speak in vague terms about the theme's significance. Always include specific details, including direct quotes, to support your argument about how the theme is expressed in the play.  

Other essay questions may not ask you directly about the themes listed in this article, but that doesn't mean that the themes are irrelevant to your writing. Here's another example of a potential essay question for The Crucible that's less explicit in its request for you to discuss themes of the play:  

" Most of the main characters in the play have personal flaws and either contribute to or end up in tragedy. Explain who you believe is the central tragic character in the play. What are their strengths and personal flaws? How does the central tragic character change throughout the play, and how does this relate to the play's title? How do outside forces contribute to the character's flaws and eventual downfall?"  

In this case, you're asked to discuss the concept of a tragic character, explaining who fits that mold in The Crucible and why. There are numerous connections between the flaws of individual characters and the overarching themes of the play that could be brought into this discussion. This is especially true with the reputation and hysteria themes. If you argued that John Proctor was the central tragic character, you could say that his flaws were an excessive concern for his reputation and overconfidence in the power of reason to overcome hysteria. Both flaws led him to delay telling the truth about Abigail's fraudulent claims and their previous relationship, thus dooming himself and many others to death or imprisonment. Even with prompts that ask you to discuss a specific character or plot point, you can find ways to connect your answer to major themes. These connections will bolster your responses by positioning them in relation to the most important concepts discussed throughout the play.    

What's Next? 

Now that you've read about the most important themes in The Crucible , check out our  list of every single character in the play , including brief analyses of their relationships and motivations. 

You can also read my full summary of The Crucible here for a review of exactly what happens in the plot in each act.

The Crucible is commonly viewed as an allegorical representation of the communist "witch hunts" conducted in the 1950s. Take a look at this article for details on the history and thematic parallels behind this connection . 

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The Crucible

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Discussion Questions

From the infectious groupthink of accusers to the fear-mongering speeches of Reverend Parris and Judge Danforth, the Salem witch trials in The Crucible mirror Arthur Miller’s lived experiences as a named “communist” (called before Joseph McCarthy’s Committee on Un-American Activities). Analyze at least three specific moments in The Crucible that gesture toward the actions, attitudes, and rhetoric of McCarthyism.

The word “crucible” has two meanings. The term can either refer to a large (witch’s) cauldron wherein substances boil together, or a challenging test of character (a “trial by fire”). Considering both definitions, how does the title of The Crucible function as a metaphor for the events and developments in Miller’s play?

The Crucible uses the Salem witch trials to closely examine intersecting hierarchies of class, gender, and power in a conservative Puritan community. The least powerful members of society—a slave, a homeless woman, and a sexual deviant—are the first to stand accused, and the accusers themselves are young servant girls (who do not possess a great deal of political power prior to the witch trials). What messages does this play send about obtaining and maintaining power? How do power dynamics fluctuate throughout the play?

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The Crucible Arthur Miller

The Crucible essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

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The Crucible Essays

Conformity, imbalance of power, and social injustice geoff cowper-smith, the crucible.

A "Great Drama" is a play in which an audience can find personal relevance. It is something which an audience can relate to. A great drama should having meaning to audiences for multiple generations. Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" successfully...

Sins and Ambitions Anthony Haddad

"The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness." - Joseph Conrad

The Salem witchcraft trials illuminate a great human campaign to rid society of the wicked devil and his sinful...

The Stream of Conscience in Arthur Miller's The Crucible Anonymous

In Arthur Miller's powerful stage play The Crucible, written in 1953 as a metaphor for the McCarthy hearings on communism in America, the idea of conscience is greatly emphasized in many of the main characters. Miller himself once said that The...

The Crucible as an Allegory Anonymous

In his classic drama The Crucible, Arthur Miller chronicles the horror of the Salem witch trials, an embarrassing episode of colonial America's history. At first reading, one might only view Miller's work as a vivid account of the tragedy of...

Contemporary Events Leading to The Crucible Lee Wang

When The Crucible opened on January 22, 1953, audiences greeted it with lukewarm applause. Critics did what they do best by berating the new play. What is now arguably the most influential allegorical play on the subject of Communism written...

Society In The Crucible and Death of a Salesman Michael Brooks

Two plays by Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman and The Crucible, both contend that society is the indifferent, sometimes brutal, force that crushes an individual. Although the plays take place in different time periods, they each convey the force...

The Evolution of Reverend Hale Matt Rigolizzo 11th Grade

How can a trial turn a religious minister into a man separated from a town’s power structure? In The Crucible, Reverend Hale is sent to Salem to deal with an alleged outbreak of witchcraft. At the beginning of the play, Hale is a confidant man,...

Puritans, the Devil, and American Literature Anonymous 11th Grade

“The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving and “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne are both short stories that illustrate Puritan ideas about the place of evil in human nature. Both short stories revolve around a central character...

Rev. Parris: Greed and Lies in The Crucible Anonymous 10th Grade

Human nature has a tendency, a fad if you will, to display traits of selfishness and a "me first, you later" attitude. This sort of thinking often leads people to do unjust or politically incorrect things, and it gets them in trouble with the law,...

Personal Expediency Among the Puritans Chloe Mourad 10th Grade

Within the Puritan society of the seventeenth century, the fear of the Devil fueled the actions of individuals; this idea is reflected in two significant works of literature, A Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks and The Crucible by Arthur Miller....

Fear is Something to be Feared Serena Huang 10th Grade

Fear is Something to be Feared

The word "fear" can be defined as: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger or pain. In his play The Crucible, Arthur Miller addresses the fear embedded within Puritan society. According to the Public...

The Two Opposing Female Roles in “The Crucible” Sanya Helene Stern 11th Grade

“Does this dress make me look fat?” It’s a common conception; women tell each other to wear black because the contrast is slimming. Politicians run attack ads on components to make themselves look better in comparison. The literary technique of...

A New Perspective on Salem Anonymous College

The name Salem or any mention of the Salem witch trials almost always turns heads, and usually this sudden attention is not due to a reputable history. Most people think of the Salem witch trials and begin to picture an out of control environment....

The Crucible - Pure vs. Tainted Love Anonymous 9th Grade

The concept of redemptive and destructive love is common in all modes of texts, no matter the location or the time period. This is because love itself is timeless; it is a moving force that pushes people to act, an emotion which can cause both...

Hubris vs. Heroism : An Analysis of John Proctor’s shortcomings as Miller’s Tragic Hero Arthur Miller 11th Grade

The famous philosopher Aristotle formally defined the parameters of the tragic hero in his work On Poetics (335 B.C.). Aristotle based his tragic hero model on Oedipus, a king from Greek mythology. He defined the tragic hero as a man of noble...

Ambiguous Political Agendas: Historical Figures in Miller and Atwood Anonymous 12th Grade

Political agendas remain dubious and uncertain, but control is the eventual aim, almost by definition, of political activity. The Crucible by Arthur Miller and Margaret Atwood’s free-verse poem “Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing” expose innate...

The Crucible and Year of Wonders Anonymous 12th Grade

Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible and Geraldine Brooks’ novel Year of Wonders are both works that explore the treatment of individuals under oppressive theocratic ruling. Both Miller’s and Brooks’ works are aligned with key themes of superstition,...

How the Actions of the Court Amplified Hysteria and Expedited the Trials in The Crucible Anonymous 10th Grade

How is it possible that the actions of a single institution can completely decimate the physical and societal structure of an entire town? In Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, this situation comes to pass in Salem, Massachusetts during the 1690’...

The "Weights" of the World: A Central Motif in 'The Crucible' Evan Kade Bridges 12th Grade

Arthur Miller confronts the “weight of truth," "weight of authority," and the "weight of law" in The Crucible. This play expresses the different complications that come along with having to bear each "weight." Many characters in the play conform...

Compare the ways in which The Crucible and Year of Wonders explore the conflict between appearance and reality. Kulin Gunathilake 12th Grade

Arthur Miller’s allegorical play, The Crucible , illustrates the parallels between the Salem Witch Trials and the HUAC communist crisis, highlighting the injustice of McCarthyism. Alternatively, Geraldine Brooks intertextually takes a cue from the...

A Study of People and Politics in The Crucible and Citizenfour Anonymous 12th Grade

Composers represent the ultimate powerlessness of ordinary people through the ways in which they explore the complex and dynamic relationship between people and politics. Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible” written in a communist fearing period...

True character is revealed under pressure Grace Harrington 12th Grade

In both The Crucible and Year of Wonders , characters are put under pressure and in times of crisis their true character is revealed. Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible , showcases the grotesque nature of the human form and how it contorts when tempted...

Representation of gender in The Crucible and Macbeth Isabelle White 11th Grade

Drama is the performance of a narrative by actors on stage, and differs from prose fiction in that it is interpreted and presented by others rather than the individual viewer. The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is a drama that illustrates a...

Jealousy and the destructive nature of love in Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’, and Ian McEwen’s ‘Atonement’. Summer Jade Dolan 12th Grade

Compare and contrast the representation of jealousy and the destructive nature of love in Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’, and Ian McEwen’s ‘Atonement’.

When comparing themes of jealousy and the destructive nature of love...

the crucible essay titles

  • The Crucible

Arthur Miller

  • Literature Notes
  • Essay Questions
  • Play Summary
  • About The Crucible
  • Character List
  • Summary and Analysis
  • Act I: Scene 1
  • Act I: Scene 2
  • Act I: Scene 3
  • Act I: Scene 4
  • Act I: Scene 5
  • Act II: Scene 1
  • Act II: Scene 2
  • Act II: Scene 3
  • Act II: Scene 4
  • Act III: Scene 1
  • Act III: Scene 2
  • Act III: Scene 3
  • Act IV: Scene 1
  • Act IV: Scene 2
  • Act IV: Scene 3
  • Act IV: Scene 4
  • Character Analysis
  • Abigail Williams
  • John Proctor
  • Reverend Hale
  • Character Map
  • Arthur Miller Biography
  • Critical Essays
  • Arthur Miller's Narrative Technique in The Crucible
  • Historical Period: Puritans in Salem
  • Full Glossary for The Crucible
  • Practice Projects
  • Cite this Literature Note

Study Help Essay Questions

1. A crucible is defined as a severe test. Write an essay discussing the significance of the title. What is "the crucible" within the play and how does it bring about change or reveal an individual's true character?

2. As a minister, Reverend Parris is supposed to devote himself to the spiritual welfare of the inhabitants of Salem. Write an essay discussing Parris' concerns and motivations. Is he an effective minister?

3. Write an essay discussing Proctor's relationship with Abigail. Why did Proctor have an affair, and what prompted him to end his affair with Abigail?

4. Compare and contrast Elizabeth Proctor and Abigail Williams. What are their individual positive character traits? Negative character traits? How do they feel about Proctor?

5. Elizabeth despises deception. She is a moral woman, devoted to upholding the truth. Discuss Elizabeth's behavior in the court. What prompts her to lie?

6. Write an essay discussing Abigail's plan to get rid of Elizabeth. Is the play a fulfillment of the spell she cast in the woods with Tituba?

7. Write an essay discussing the effects of the witch trials on Salem. How do the trials affect the community? Government and authority? The church? Individuals?

8. In Act IV, Scene 4, Proctor agrees to falsely confess in order to avoid death. He later changes his mind. Explain why he refuses to confess. What is the "shred of goodness" he discovers?

Previous Full Glossary for The Crucible

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the crucible essay titles

The Crucible

Arthur miller, ask litcharts ai: the answer to your questions.

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Arthur Miller's The Crucible . Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

The Crucible: Introduction

The crucible: plot summary, the crucible: detailed summary & analysis, the crucible: themes, the crucible: quotes, the crucible: characters, the crucible: symbols, the crucible: theme wheel, brief biography of arthur miller.

The Crucible PDF

Historical Context of The Crucible

Other books related to the crucible.

  • Full Title: The Crucible
  • When Written: 1950-52
  • When Published: 1953
  • Literary Period: Realist Drama
  • Genre: Tragic Drama
  • Setting: Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, when it was a Puritan colony
  • Climax: The Crucible has an odd structure, in which each of the four acts ends on a climax. Act I: the girls scream out the names of witches. Act II: Proctor vows he will confront Abigail. Act III: Proctor reveals his adultery with Abigail, and Elizabeth Proctor lies. Act IV: Proctor rips up his confession.
  • Antagonist: Abigail Williams

Extra Credit for The Crucible

The Real Salem Witch Trials. In his depiction of the witch trials, Miller took many major departures from fact. For instance, John Proctor was nearly 60 and Abigail Williams only 11 at the time of the witch trials. Any affair between the two is highly unlikely, to say the least. Miller was always open about the liberties he took with history, saying that he was writing "a fictional story about an important theme."

Some Like it Hot. Arthur Miller was not a star the way writers are stars today. He was much, much bigger than that. After he wrote Death of a Salesman , he was a tremendous national sensation. In fact, he was such a big star that he married Marilyn Monroe. The couple married in 1956, and stayed together until 1961.

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The Crucible by Arthur Miller Essay

Introduction, what issues are being adressed, how the issues are handled, works cited.

The crucible is a play written in the McCarthyism era by Arthur Miller. McCarthyism was a movement in the nineteen-fifties led by Senator Joe McCarthy in search for communists in the government of the United States. A crucible as defined is a vessel whereby heating and melting of metal using high temperatures take place for sole purposes of casting.

Metaphorically, a crucible can also refer to an era in history where the society seems to be melted down and remolded into a new castby the forces of great cultural, social, and political changes. The same word has remarkable similarities with crucifixion, which is the major intention of Miller by choosing it to be the title of his play.

The plays interweaves Christ’s crucifixion with the picture of a bubbling crucible in it a man and a society: the predicament of arriving to the right choice of morality and the inevitability of attaining redemption through sacrifice. These two themes, certainly, occur in the amplified struggle between good and evil.

The crucible puts to lime light countless enduring issue that affects our society at large. These issues include honor and integrity, power issues and its abounding corruption, the characteristics of excellence and wickedness, and the likelihood to evade all sorts of problems by creation of scapegoats. This paper aims at showing how the crucible exposes the above named issues in a dramatic fashion.

The issues of honor and integrity are depicted very well in the Crucible. Conscience is an inward sense of decency which propels most people towards what we term as being right(Miller 1). Nevertheless, in moment of public discord, we end up give our consciousness the rear seat which is naturally expected of us.

For one to stand up for the right thing even in the most challenging opposition, it asks for a strong will of conscience(Miller 2). Although taking such an action is perceived as noble and honorable in retrospection, it is rarely received well by the majority in real and actual events. Miller handles the issue of integrity and honor by bring the character of proctor.

The reason as to why proctor was hanged, it was because he chose to uphold his integrity at the end. If proctor had chosen to compromise his integrity by confessing thus lying, he would not have been blamed by the audience. Proctor realized that by compromising he would betray his close friends therefore he chose to sacrifice his life for his conscience.

By following his conscience, and sacrificing his life, proctor became a real martyr before the audience eyes (Miller 3). This trend repeats itself even in our day to day life. We are very quick at applauding those who chose to uphold their integrity but we do not have enough strength of moral fiber to do so. The death of proctor turns out to be a moral exclamation point, and the modern audiences would be affected profoundly(Archer 5).

A large part of the play is dominated by the issues of power. Domineering criminals in the play have power possession and this prompt Miller to sound a warning on the corrupting qualities behind power. This is depicted clearly when Abigail and the other group of girls after realizing that they posses great power, they seek to use it for their own benefits.

Danforth possessesthe greatest power in the play, and he had the capacity to declare the proceedings at any one given time for the irrationality they were in (Archer 7). However, even at the final point when his actions were plainly and clearly not upright he preferred to proceed with his judgment.

The crucible playdisplayed how excess power is harmful and dangerous, since the temptation is ready waiting to be abused. The individuals in power in Salem, when scrutinized under theocratic government justification are found to absolutely abuse power, and in process destroying innocent people. This gives a clear illustration of how the law is not always correct, and if that is the case, we are supposed to stand up to it(Bly 2).

Proctor did exactly that by challenging the court. Power does not usually land on the principled or the prudent, but rather in the control of self centered individuals. Today In our very democratic governments, the authorities are responsible to the entire society for the things they decide to do, and therefore, are under control to a given degree. From the play, we can see clearly that a position assuming excess power and having no oneto be responsible to tends to be corrupted by that power.

It has always been noted that,numerous societies come up with some sort of scapegoat for any atrocity that they face. At that particular time,Salem was notan exception (Bly 5).

At that period, the population was becoming uncomfortable with the extreme measures taken by the government to ascertain that they never deviated, and this caused general crisis. Danforth desire to control this crisis could have led him to execute the condemned ‘witches’ to a point far beyond any comprehension of therational mind would know that the actions were not right(Miller 2).

Danforth might have desired to show the population how rebels like Proctor were punished and the execution through hangings could have acted as warning to anyone planning to carry out a social upheaval. As a matter of fact, the devil has always served as a very easy scapegoat. Thebehavior to always find a scapegoats goes on even today, and there is always someone who takes the blame on our behalf.

Much had to be offered to the audience by the play Crucible in 1996. The issues addressed by the play are very much similar to the issues facing our modern world. There is much the modern audience canidentify with the issue of corruption and power, integrity and honor,the issue of rule governing the society and the methods used to condemn those people who deviate from the rulestogether with our burning desires to blame others by creating a scapegoat.

Important issues to the Americans were addressed by the Crucible. The crucible exposed what the world in general is facing in real sense, people in power are manipulating powers bestowed on them to control other people and impose ideologies which are not sensible. Hunger for power and control have led to people committing crimes against humanity.

Also, the inability of people to withhold their integrity has caused innocent people to suffer in the place of those guilty for committing an atrocity. People in power hide under the shadow of authority to oppress the weak and vulnerable. The crucible has played a very important role in addressing what is actually happening in the world.

Archer. The Crucible : Theme. Web.

Bly, William. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible . USA: Barron’s Educational Series, 1984.

Bradford, Wade. The Crucible – A Challenging Masterpiece . 2011. Web.

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible . A&C Black, 2010.

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The Crucible - Free Essay Samples And Topic Ideas

The Crucible is a dramatic work by Arthur Miller that explores the hysteria and injustices of the Salem witch trials. Essays on this topic could delve into the various thematic elements of the play, its historical accuracy, and its critique of McCarthyism. Furthermore, discussions could extend to the character analysis, the play’s enduring relevance, and its place within the broader context of American literature and historical drama. A substantial compilation of free essay instances related to The Crucible you can find in Papersowl database. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.

Power and Authority in the Crucible

In Arthur Miller’s captivating play, The Crucible, the Salem Witch Trials were examined during 1693 and 1694. Through this play, we can see how powerless people have become powerful. This essay will be describing the trasition from powerless to powerful or the other way around, based off of the Salem Witch Trials. Empowerment plays a crucial role in the development of a powerful person. The audience realizes that the role of adversity has helped the powerless to become powerful. In […]

The Crucible Final Essay

Arthur Miller believes that the idea of tragedy is often misinterpreted. Many people believe that in a tragedy a person in the play must die unexpectedly for the person that they love. He sees that In “The Crucible” his intention was not to rewrite the history of the Salem Witch Trials but to create characters to show how people were falsely accused and have been hung as a result. He also shows characters who are very courageous. Within his quote […]

John Proctor the True Tragic Hero

Every tragic hero has an encouraging future until some fatal flaw or lapse in judgement shrouds all of their actions, leading to their eventual demise. In Arthur Miller's The Crucible, John Proctor is no exception to this statement; he succumbs to his death because of a failure in reasoning. Another one of John's characteristics that leads him to be labeled as the tragic hero of The Crucible is his relatable tragic flaw, which is also known as his hamartia. In […]

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The Crucible the Effect of Salem on Reverend Hale

Arthur Miller's The Crucible is a play that takes place in the 1690's during the infamous witch trials. Reverend Hale, a minister from East Hanover, is sent to Salem to exercise his expertise on the demonic arts and witchcraft. When Hale arrives in Salem, he discovers the town in total calamity. Hale is sent to help remove the source of this chaos but is dragged in instead. In the play, Reverend Hale's change from immensely confident to defeatedly remorseful becomes […]

Differences between the Crucible Movie and the Play

The famous play The Crucible by Arthur Miller and the movie The Crucible may share the same name but have many differences, whether it's the characters and how they act, or the way the scene changes, or in this example how the completely focus the story on something else. There was many additional scenes, or moods, in the movie that was not expressed in the play. Starting with Abigail being naked in the woods and not Mercy, then Abigail's feelings […]

The Transformation of John Proctor

Stressed is a feeling that one can sense throughout Arthur Miller's famous play called The Crucible. The whole town of Salem, Massachusetts, is stressed because of the frightening witchcraft, however, each character also has to deal with their own individual stress for various reasons. John Proctor is one of the characters suffering from stress because he initially refuses to admit his sin of adultery which would cause his good reputation to go down the drain. In The Crucible, through the […]

Why is Abigail to Blame in the Crucible

In the play, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, the author argues/ implies that people can be easily manipulated by fear. The character, Abigail has many faults. In this paper I will explain if Abigail deserved the blame for the outcome. I will also support my argument with evidence from the play. Abigail has so many faults. Some of her faults are she craves attention, affection, interfering with others relationships, selfish, manipulative, and an amazing lair. She craves attention by influencing […]

How is Reputation Shown in the Crucible

Reputation is the way that other people perceive you. Integrity is the way you perceive yourself. Abigail wanted to protect her reputation and Integrity so, she went around Salem and accused others of being involved with witchcrafts. A bad reputation on others can result in social or physical punishment. In The Crucible, people in Salem used accusations of witchcraft to destroy the reputation of their enemies. Abigail Williams lies and manipulates her friends and the entire town causing innocent people […]

John Proctor’s Evolutions

Arthur Miller's The Crucible is a morality play that examines religious and political fervor, mob mentality, and hypocrisy. While some characters realize that the proceedings are anything but just, others never think about them critically. John Proctor evolves throughout the play, from sinful to pure. His many dilemmas drive his evolution, which makes the point that someone who is having their own personal battle can still be an example for someone else. Arthur Miller illustrates John Proctor as a tragic […]

The Crucible is an Sllegory of the Red Scare

Section I: Introduction Arthur Miller's, The Crucible, is an allegory of the Red Scare that impacted society mentally, physically, and spiritually. The play displayed a series of abnormal occurrences that followed a similar social and political fallout that was seen prior in the seventeenth century. It was also a means to represent the ridiculous and mob-mentality constructed accusatory atmosphere that suffocated the 1950's during which it was written. The play itself, The Crucible, follows the tragic historical events that took […]

Symbolism in the Crucible

What does The Poppet, John Proctor and Witchcraft? Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose. In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, it focuses on chaos of the Salem Witch Trials. In the play, young Abigail Williams had an affair with her former employee, John Proctor. As a result, John's wife, Elizabeth, fired Abby thus placing a wedge between the married couple. Abigail, not one to be scorned, set out to make matters right. […]

John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s Drama

John Proctor is the protagonist in Arthur Miller's drama about witchcraft in Salem, The Crucible. He is a well-regarded man in the community who commits adultery and is found guilty of witchcraft. Throughout the play, he is strongly conflicted between the desire to act upon self-interest and the desire to be a moral man. This contrast encompasses Miller's message that one must search within oneself to do what is right and not what is expedient. There are many instances in […]

About Witchcraft in the Crucible

The Crucible is mainly about witchcraft. Witchcraft is the practice of magic, especially black magic. With this magic you can use spells and the innovation of spirits. People have gone insane believing that witchcraft is happening in their town. People start accusing others for witchcraft and once that is said, your life's on the line. Victims have to go through court and then later on the guilty people are in the process of being hung. Their is a movie based […]

John Proctor’s Pride in the Play the Crucible

A tragedy is an event that leads to one's affliction and downfall. That’s the case in the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller. The Crucible took place in Salem, MA in the 1960s. It's about how a group of girls dancing in the forest led to a full-on witch trial investigation. This play is an allegory which means its a story told on two levels. The first time period is the Salem Witch Trials and the second is the time […]

The Crucible as an Allegory to McCarthyism

Arthur Miller's The Crucible seems to be historical fiction at first glance; it is, in its simplest state, a dramatic retelling of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. However, a close reading of the play leads us to conclude that The Crucible deviated from the real historical narrative accuracies quite a bit. This is not a failure of storytelling or a symptom of laziness on Miller's part; it is rather a symptom of the artistic liberties taken by Miller in […]

7 Deadly Sins in the Crucible

The Crucible is a play based on the Salem witch trials that happened in 1693, in Massachusetts. This play was written by Arthur Miller. The characters in the play portray some of the actual people who were afflicted during the trials. Many of the characters represented some of the Seven Deadly Sins. The Seven Deadly Sins are pride, envy, lust, anger, sloth, gluttony, and covetousness. This play is full of sinners and full of sinful nature and all seven of […]

John Proctor a One Man Show

Just as the heart and brain are part of human anatomy, sinful nature and desire are woven into the DNA of the natural man. One of the most notorious examples of people acting based on their own greed and sinful desires is the Salem Witch Trials. The quiet Puritan town of Salem, Massachusetts erupted into chaos and hysteria in 1692 when several girls accused various members of the community of conspiring with the devil. Most of the people entangled in […]

The Hunger for Power and an Impact on a Person’s Life in the Crucible

Power doesn't corrupt people, people corrupt power (William Gaddis). Puritanism was a powerful religious, social, and political order in New England colonial life. In a Puritan society, humans wanted to reform the Christian church and believed that the devil had servants that worked for him on Earth. Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, explains the persecution of persons falsely accused of being witches in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. The play portrays power and how that power shifts among the characters. It […]

The Crucible and the Conflicts the Characters

Selfishness is one of the many evils in a man or a woman, perhaps is the worst. The evil or vengeance a person wants to payback often has something that'll come back to you if it's done. In the book called, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller uses the character to shows flaws, that actions have consequences. The cause and effects of the characters had done something and in return, something is good or bad. John Proctor's flaw is lust; he […]

Similarities and Difference the Crucible Play and Movie

Over many years many movies have been based upon famous plays or even books. Sometimes these movies succeed in exaggeration of the plays images and thoughts for the play or book. The play by Arthur Miller, The Crucible and the movie have many similarities and differences. These all help change the plot, characters, and mood for the play which have been set into the movie. For starters, usually a movie is far different from the play or book it originally […]

Fear and Misinformation in the Crucible

In the Crucible, the Salem witch trials was shown in a fictional matter. But still had inspiration from the real event and the hysteria known as the Red Scare. In the book, it shows how fear and misinformation can cause major repercussions, hysteria, and cause a whole town to turn on each other. In this essay, I will identify who gets blamed for what happened in Salem. I also will defend the main antagonist Abigail Williams. Firstly, in Act 1 […]

What Kind of Hero was John Proctor?

We all know that John Proctor was a hero, but what kind of hero was he and why was he this kind? John was a tragic hero, because in the play The Crucible John gave up his life so that his wife could live. When John Proctor died, everyone in Salem was sad. This happened more towards the end of the play when Proctor ripped up the confession he signed. John's choice to do this was an example of purity […]

About a Dramatized the Crucible by Arthur Miller

It is a dramatized and partially fictionalized story of the real life Salem Witch Trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts during 1692- 1693. Many innocent people were wrongfully accused of witchery and put on trial for things that they didn’t commit. Many of those people were punished simply because they didn’t want to confess to lies and weren’t going to be manipulated. Some characters of the play include John Proctor who is often referred to as the protagonist, and […]

Tituba and other Social Outcasts in the Crucible

The Crucible is a play that's about the Salem Witch Trials which took place in Massachusetts Bay Colony during 1692. A town minister named Reverend Samuel Parris discovered his young daughter Betty Parris age 10 as well as his niece Abigail Williams dancing in the forest with other girls and a slave named Tituba. Young Betty falls into a deep sleep after being discovered by her father. Rumors surfaced that the girls were playing around with witchcraft. Families and other […]

The Crucible as an Allegory of the Witch Trial

With more than 200 people accused and 20 people executed, the Salem Witch trials became a serious case that lasted throughout history inspiring authors like Arthur Miller to write a play based on this issue. Miller wrote The Crucible as an allegory of the Witch Trials to compensate for the problems that he faced during the Mccarthy Era. His main goal was to present the issues of the Hollywood ten to the public; in order to do so, Miller changed […]

One of the Main Characters in the Play “The Crucible”

In the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller, John Proctor, one of the main characters in his mid-thirties, was overly prideful in his name and reputation. To start, John Proctor had a previous affair with a 17- year- old girl named Abigail. When John revealed this to his wife Elizabeth, whom he has three sons with, she was very upset and on the edge. So, when Abigail was put on trial for previous accusations, Elizabeth wanted John to go testify […]

How Fear for a Penalty Can Destroy a Community

Puritans believed that the Bible was God's true law that it provided a plan for living, and that those who didn't follow would be cruelly punished for sins they had committed. However, their religion was so strict that it caused Puritans to have a very narrow range of acceptable behavior. The Puritans cared more for moral behavior and they took their laws from the Bible, rather than English precedent. In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible seems to be the corrupting […]

About Risks in the Crucible

The Crucible has many significant themes, but the risks and rewards that go along with having power and greed are proven in how Arthur Miller portrays his characters. One of the characters, Abigail shows how being selfish and power hungry gets her nowhere. Miller also shows how the whole community supports that men are more powerful than women. Then lastly, Reverend Parris is more concerned with his reputation than his own family. Although many of the characters have influence within […]

The Court of Salem in the Crucible

The Crucible is a play written by Arthur Miller based on the Salem Witch Trials that took place around the late 1600’s. During this time period, in Salem especially, it is very important that the people of the community were holy and lived according to God’s will. For example, you must know your Ten commandments in order to keep bad suspicions off your back. Although, even that will not be enough if you are accused of conjuring the devil. In […]

Women in Salem in the Crucible

Here in the play, John Proctor is attempting to appeal to the logistical aspect of the issue at hand, which is that many innocent women in Salem have been accused and arrested for witchcraft. He is characterized by his honesty, bluntness and is an overall good man, except for one issue. He’s a lecherer. He had an affair with Abigail Williams while she was working in his home. She no longer works there, and John has tried to get the […]

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How To Write an Essay About The Crucible

Introduction to arthur miller's the crucible.

"The Crucible," a play by Arthur Miller, offers a rich canvas for an essay with its intricate themes and historical context. The introduction of your essay should begin by presenting "The Crucible" as a dramatized account of the Salem witch trials of the 1690s, while also acknowledging its allegorical references to McCarthyism in the 1950s. This dual historical context is essential, as it allows for a multi-layered analysis of the play's themes. Your introduction should provide a brief overview of the main plot, characters, and the thematic elements you plan to explore. This will set the stage for a deep dive into the complexities of the play and its relevance in both historical and modern contexts.

Analyzing Key Themes and Characters

In the body of your essay, focus on analyzing the key themes of "The Crucible," such as hysteria, reputation, integrity, and the abuse of power. Discuss how these themes are woven into the narrative and how they resonate with both the era of the Salem witch trials and the time of McCarthyism. Additionally, consider the development of central characters like John Proctor, Abigail Williams, and Reverend Hale, and how their journeys reflect broader societal issues. Use specific examples and quotations from the text to support your analysis. Each paragraph should concentrate on a particular theme or character analysis, providing a comprehensive understanding of Miller's artistic and thematic intentions.

Contextualizing The Crucible

It's crucial to place "The Crucible" in its historical and social context. Discuss how the play was Miller's response to the climate of fear and suspicion during the McCarthy era. Explore how the themes of the play mirror the real-life witch hunts of the 1950s, where accusations were often based on rumors and fear rather than factual evidence. This part of the essay should demonstrate an understanding of how literature can comment on and influence real-world events and societal issues. This contextual analysis will give depth to your essay, showing "The Crucible" not just as a historical drama but as a timeless commentary on human nature and society.

Concluding Reflections

Your conclusion should tie together the main points discussed in the essay, linking back to your thesis and the broader implications of the play. Reflect on the enduring relevance of "The Crucible," considering why it remains a significant work in the canon of American literature. You might also suggest ways in which the play's themes continue to be relevant in contemporary society. A strong conclusion will leave the reader with a deeper understanding of the complexities of "The Crucible" and its reflection on both the era it depicts and the time in which it was written. This part of your essay is an opportunity to underscore the lasting impact of Miller's work on readers and audiences.

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Themes and Analysis

The crucible, by arthur miller.

Through 'The Crucible,' Miller explores several important themes, such as the power of fear and superstition and the dangers of religious extremism.

About the Book

Emma Baldwin

Article written by Emma Baldwin

B.A. in English, B.F.A. in Fine Art, and B.A. in Art Histories from East Carolina University.

Arthur Miller’s ‘ The Crucible ‘ is one of the most powerful and poignant plays ever written . Set in the Puritan town of Salem during the 1690s, the play focuses on a series of trials that ultimately reveal the dangers of fear and ignorance. The play is filled with important symbols and themes that drive the narrative, many of which are highly relatable, even today.

The Corruption of Power

In the story of ‘ The Crucible ,’ power corrupts absolutely. In the village of Salem, the court proceedings are directed by those in authority, such as Reverend Parris and Deputy Governor Danforth. They misuse their power to further their own personal agendas, leading to false accusations and wrongful executions. The corruption of power serves as a warning against allowing authority figures to control everyday life without consequence.

The Dangers of Hysteria

‘ The Crucible ‘ demonstrates how quickly hysteria can spread and affect a community. With the accusations of witchcraft, fear and paranoia spread like wildfire among the citizens of Salem. This leads to even more accusations and further isolation of those thought to be guilty. The play warns readers against succumbing to hysteria and shows the real danger it can pose when left unchecked; this relates directly to McCarthyism in the 1950s in the United States.

Ignorance and Intolerance

Many of the characters in ‘ The Crucible ‘ are ignorant and intolerant of others, especially those they view as outsiders. This is demonstrated through the character of Reverend Parris, who is deeply suspicious of anyone who is different or opposes him. Similarly, intolerance is shown when those accused of witchcraft are assumed to be guilty despite a lack of evidence. The play emphasizes the need for tolerance and understanding in order to prevent further strife.

Key Moments

  • Reverend Parris discovers his daughter and niece dancing in the woods with Tituba, his slave, and other girls from the village. Betty falls into a coma.
  • Parris questions the girls about witchcraft.
  • It’s revealed that Abigail had an affair with her former employer John Proctor. She still wants to be with him.
  • Betty wakes up screaming.
  • Tituba confesses to witchcraft. Abigail joins her.
  • Abigail and the other girls begin to accuse various citizens of Salem of witchcraft.
  • Mary Warren, now a court official, testifies against John Proctor in court. 
  • Elizabeth urges John to go to town and convince them that Abigail is not telling the truth. She is suspicious of their relationship.
  • Mary gives Elizabeth a poppet.
  • John is questioned by Reverend Hale.
  • The town marshal arrests Elizabeth and finds the poppet, which has a needle in it.
  • Mary admits she made the poppet in court, and Elizabeth claims she’s pregnant.
  • The girls start screaming in court, saying that Mary is sending her spirit to them.
  • Elizabeth convinces John to admit to witchcraft.
  • John Proctor signs a confession but then rips it up before it can be used as evidence against him. 
  • John Proctor is put to death after refusing to lie about being a witch.

Tone and Style

The tone of Arthur Miller’s ‘ The Crucible ‘ is serious and intense due to the subject matter of the Salem Witch Trials. Miller captures a sense of urgency and fear that pervaded the small town of Salem at the time, which amplifies the drama and tension between the characters. This serves as a reminder of the underlying paranoia that can quickly infect a community.

The writing style of Miller’s play is direct and succinct. Miller deliberately focuses on dialogue and action, allowing for a natural flow to the story as it unfolds. He also uses strong language to draw attention to the ways in which fear and paranoia can lead to injustice. Through this approach, Miller effectively conveys the consequences of these events. In part, this is due to the format of the story. It’s a drama, meaning that it is almost entirely composed of only dialogue.

Witchcraft is the most obvious symbol in ‘ The Crucible ‘, representing the fear and paranoia of the characters during the Salem Witch Trials. Miller uses it to reflect the rampant hysteria of the time and how quickly false accusations spread throughout Salem. Witchcraft can also be seen as a metaphor for the powerlessness of individuals in the face of a repressive and superstitious society. 

Proctor’s House

John Proctor’s house serves as a symbol of both the struggles and the strength of his marriage to Elizabeth. It is not only a physical representation of their relationship but also an example of their commitment to one another. As their relationship unravels, so does their home, until it is eventually burned down by the townspeople. This symbolizes the breakdown of their marriage and the ultimate downfall of their relationship. 

The forest is a symbol of freedom in ‘ The Crucible .’ It represents the escape from repression, control, and oppression in Salem. By venturing out into the woods, characters like Tituba, Abigail, and Parris are able to reject societal norms and restrictions, allowing them to find their own paths. It is also a sign of hope for those who are struggling against the unjust and oppressive nature of Salem society.

What is the most important theme in The Crucible by Arthur Miller?

The most important theme in “The Crucible” is the power of public opinion and hysteria. It demonstrates how an environment of fear and superstition can be manipulated to create a situation of paranoia and distrust. 

Why is The Crucible by Arthur Miller important?

‘ The Crucible ‘ is important because it explores themes of morality, justice, and personal responsibility. It also examines the effects of unchecked hysteria and paranoia on individuals and society as a whole.

Why did Arthur Miller write The Crucible ?

Arthur Miller wrote ‘ The Crucible ‘ as a metaphor for McCarthyism, which was a period of intense anti-communist sentiment in the United States during the 1950s. He wanted to illustrate how similar events could happen again if unchecked fear and paranoia were allowed to spread.

Who are some of the main characters in The Crucible ?

Some of the main characters in The Crucible include John Proctor, Abigail Williams, Elizabeth Proctor, Reverend Parris, Reverend Hale, and Judge Danforth.

Emma Baldwin

About Emma Baldwin

Emma Baldwin, a graduate of East Carolina University, has a deep-rooted passion for literature. She serves as a key contributor to the Book Analysis team with years of experience.


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The Crucible by Arthur Miller

October 23, 2020

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‍ This blog was updated on 23/10/2020.

2. Historical Context

3. Character Analysis

5. Symbols and Motifs

6. Quote Analysis

7. Sample Essay Topics

8. Essay Topic Breakdown

The Crucible is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

The Crucible , Arthur Miller’s 1953 realist play, is based on the historical events of the 1692 Salem witch hunts. Although partially fictionalised, it depicts the very real consequences of false accusations based on blind religious faith , as Miller displays the dangers of such baseless rumours. However, the play was written during another type of witch hunt: McCarthyism in 1950s America. This was a political movement in which Senator Joseph McCarthy attempted to control the spread of Communism by placing any Communist sympathisers on a blacklist. This resulted in a widespread fear of Communist influences, and a political hunt similar to the Salem witch trials began, as civilians attempted to escape their own charges by accusing other innocent individuals of treason. Thus, given the historical context of the time, Miller uses The Crucible as an allegorical warning for the audience against the dangers of McCarthyism in 1950s America. 

These concepts will be fully unpacked later, but it is important to keep these key notions of hysteria, accusation and blind faith in mind as you study the text. These are the fundamental ideas that the play is based upon, and also the elements which make The Crucible hugely relevant in our society today. One could even say that the development of technology has made it easier for false allegations and social rumours to spread - leading to drastic consequences specific to the 21st century, such as the leaking of critical government information and cyberbullying. Not to mention, the anonymity of technology has enabled individuals to start modern-day witch hunts as a nameless, faceless user behind the comfort and security of their screens!

Historical Context

In varying degrees, every work of literature reflects its historical context , or the social and political conditions that shaped its time period. The Crucible is a four-act play, which presents a dramatised and partially fictionalised depiction of the 1692 Salem witch trials. It was also published in 1953, at the height of the Second Red Scare, or the heightened fear of Communist influences in America. As such, the play is not merely a play based on historically accurate events, but also an allegory of the disastrous consequences of McCarthyism.

Character Analysis

John proctor.

Proctor is a strong and hardworking farmer, respected by those in Salem for his power and independence. Possessing a “sharp and biting way with hypocrites”, Proctor is the symbol of autonomous leadership in the play, acting as another source of social authority to the theocratic leaders of the Puritan Church. He is the protagonist of the play, but a flawed individual - while he has great strength of character, he is also presented in The Crucible as an adulterous husband, who is openly defiant of his church. As such, he is described by Miller as a kind of “sinner” - one who experiences an internal moral conflict within himself. Proctor undergoes much personal growth during the plot of the play, redeeming his name and obtaining “goodness” by choosing moral honesty over freedom. This ultimate act of courage symbolises the importance of integrity and honour , and represents the “shred of goodness” in his character. 

Elizabeth Proctor

Although described by Abigail as a “bitter woman”, Elizabeth is the quiet yet resilient wife of Proctor. Her husband’s affair with Abigail renders her resentful towards the former and jealous of the latter, resulting in a wounded and fragile marriage. Her humility is made evident as she blames herself for Proctor’s infidelity, believing she erred in keeping a “cold house”. In tandem with this icy imagery , Miller utilises Elizabeth as a symbol of honesty and strict moral justice , despite it often being mistaken as “coldness” by others - Proctor asserts that Elizabeth’s justice “would freeze beer”. Despite this, Elizabeth proves herself to be a caring source of support for her persecuted husband, believing him to be “a good man”, and ultimately breaking her characteristic honesty in the hopes of his freedom. Her extreme courage is ultimately made evident by her willingness to lose Proctor to the hangman’s noose, rather than for him to lose his moral virtue by signing his name to lies. 

Abigail Williams

Described as “a wild thing”, Abigail is a beautiful, yet manipulative and deceptive adolescent with “an endless capacity for dissembling”. Still in love with Proctor after their brief affair, she lies to the court and condemns Elizabeth as a witch, in a desperate, jealous attempt to win him back and take Elizabeth’s place as his wife. Abigail is the ringleader of the girls, and the progenitor of the false rumours that spiral into the witch hunt. Thus, she embodies falsehood , in a stark contrast to Elizabeth, who is a symbol of truth. Her violent nature is made evident in the play, as she threatens the girls with physical violence and “smashes Betty across the face” in an effort to silence her. Despite this, Miller makes clear that Abigail is a victim of psychological trauma , as she is revealed to have borne witness to the violent death of her parents - partly explaining her disturbed and devious nature. 

Mary Warren 

Mary Warren is a sullen, sensitive and easily manipulated servant of the Proctor household. Her volatile nature makes her an easy target for Abigail, who manipulates her into betraying the Proctors by planting a poppet in Elizabeth’s room, which ultimately becomes the leading evidence in her sentencing. Mary is a symbol of mass hysteria , as her easily exploitable nature and weakness in spirit represent the irrationality of those who are quick to believe rumours, such as the persecutors of the Salem witch hunts, as well as the accusers of the McCarthy era. 

Susanna Walcott, Mercy Lewis, Betty Parris

Referred to as “the girls” throughout the play, these young individuals are manipulated by Abigail to falsely convict Elizabeth and numerous others as practicers of witchcraft. All of these girls possess a common fear of Abigail, and carry out her orders in an attempt to evade their own punishment at her hands. Thus, Miller uses them to emphasise his allegory of the McCarthy trials , in which numerous people accused others of Communism based on their own fear of being charged by the Court. 

Mass Hysteria

Mass hysteria is one of the most significant themes of the play, as Miller depicts the entire town of Salem engulfed by the superstition of witchcraft and devil-worship. The community-wide fear of consorting with the devil is shown to overwhelm any kind of rational thought . As one rumour created by Abigail and the girls leads to dozens of incarcerations and executions in a matter of days, The Crucible depicts the “perverse manifestation of panic” that can occur from unsubstantiated fear . Miller uses this illustration of hysteria to show the effects of a strictly repressive Puritan society . Although some residents of Salem manipulate the witch hunt for their own benefit, such as Abigail, the majority of the townspeople are launched into the terror-fuelled “fever” by their genuine belief that the devil is running amok in Salem. The strict theocracy of the town thus exacerbates the crisis, as joining the accusatory crowd becomes a religious necessity ; a virtuous “plane of heavenly combat between Lucifer and the Lord”. As such, the play demonstrates how uncontrolled religious fervour can lead to the collective indoctrination of “black mischief”, where panic clouds all reason. 

Judgement in The Crucible encompasses three meanings; the legal, personal, and spiritual . The legal judgement in the play is depicted as superficial - mainly illustrated through the characters of Hathorne and Danforth, the theocratical Salem court does not carry out real justice due to its dogmatic focus on its reputation . This is depicted by Danforth’s stubborn refusal to free the innocents accused, due to his belief that it would lead to a tainted esteem of the court. Thus, Miller suggests that the more important judgement is personal - exemplified by the character of Proctor. Believing himself to be a “sinner” against his own “version of moral conduct”, Proctor throughout the play shows limitless remorse and self-hatred for the hurt he has caused Elizabeth by his affair with Abigail. Miller shows the importance of forgiveness through self-judgement , as Elizabeth assures Proctor that there is “no higher judge under Heaven” than Proctor himself, and he ultimately is able to forgive himself and see the “shred of goodness” within him by the end of the play. Furthermore, The Crucible depicts the town of Salem overcome by the fear of God’s judgement, or what Proctor calls “God’s icy wind” . The events of the play unfold due to the town’s collective fear of the higher power of an “Almighty God”. As Hale proclaims, “Before the laws of God we are as swine!”, Miller showcases the extent of the fearsome “power of theocracy” in circumstances of confusion and hysteria .

The events of the Salem witch trials detail various types of accusation. Although all are disguised as the dispelling of witchcraft, the false allegations depicted in the play are carried out with a range of different motives . For example, Abigail’s accusation of Elizabeth as a witch is described to derive from a “whore’s vengeance” due to her passionate jealousy of Elizabeth’s position as Proctor’s wife, and Abigail’s wish to take her place. Similarly, Rebecca Nurse’s charge of “murdering Goody Putnam’s babies” is due to the Putnams’ resentment and jealousy of her numerous children, while they themselves have lost babies “before they could be baptised”.  In contrast to this, the accusation of Martha Corey, Giles' wife, of witchcraft is motivated by Walcott’s desire for revenge , as he resents her for the unhealthy “pig he bought from her five years ago”. Thus, his actions are calculative rather than passionate - a cruel attempt to get “his money back”. In his employment of the play as a historical allegory , this depiction of the blind following of rampant accusations depicted in The Crucible represents the similarly irrational proceedings of the McCarthy trials, many of which were carried out without substantial evidence. 

Honour and Integrity

Honour is one of the most prominent themes in the play, as the majority of the characters strive to maintain their reputations in society . Miller depicts a community in which private and public characters are one and the same, and the consequences of the obsessive desire to uphold the esteem of their name. For example, although Proctor has the chance to undermine the girls’ accusations by revealing Abigail as a ‘whore’, he does not do so in order to protect his good name from being tarnished . Likewise, Parris at the beginning of the play threatens Abigail and the girls due to his fear that hints of witchcraft will threaten his already precarious reputation in the church and banish him from the pulpit. Furthermore, the judges of Salem do not accept any evidence that could free the innocent accused, as they uphold a false reputation to honour the Puritan church. Despite this, Miller shows the importance of prioritising personal honour over public reputation through the character of Proctor. As he ultimately makes the valiant decision in Act IV to refrain from “signing lies” and thus uphold his name, he is able to redeem himself from his previous sins and is able to die with righteousness.

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Symbols and Motifs

The crucible.

A crucible is a ceramic or metal container in which metals, chemicals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures. As such, Miller in the play employs the violent imagery of a crucible to symbolise the severe and challenging test of the Salem witch hunts . As spoken by Danforth in Act III, “We burn a hot fire in here; it melts down all concealment”, the motif of the crucible represents the merciless nature of both the Salem and McCarthy court proceedings , and their dogged determination to convict, despite the lack of substantial evidence. Crucibles are often used for the chemical process of calcination, during which particles are heated to high temperatures in order to purify them - removing any volatile substances from the compound. As such, Miller also suggests that societal challenges such as those depicted in the play can lead to situations in which the good can be separated from the evil ; as the town is split into those who are “with this court or…against it”, the witch hunts illustrate the distinction between the individuals who possesses moral integrity and those who manipulate the situation for their selfish pursuits . 

In Act III, Abigail and the girls plant a poppet, or doll, in Elizabeth’s house, in an attempt to frame her as an individual guilty of witchcraft. As Abigail stabs the doll with a needle in its stomach before leaving it on Elizabeth’s shelf, she is able to pretend that her own stomach is injured from Elizabeth’s practice of voodoo with it. The poppet is a symbol of childhood and girlhood , and the play’s depiction of it as a tool for malicious revenge represents the loss of innocence and pretence that arises out of the witch hunts . Miller illustrates the danger of mass hysteria , as he depicts the young group of girls, led by Abigail, become manipulated into condemning innocent townspeople to death; thereby losing their innocence and moral virtue . The poppet is also employed as a symbol of deception , as it emphasises the fact that the Salem persecutions are based on lies and falsehood . As the court ignores Elizabeth’s outraged protests that she has not kept a poppet since she was a little girl, Miller chastises a justice system which values convenient deceit over the cumbersome truth . 

Although traditionally associated with knowledge and truth, the motif of paper in the play symbolises morality and individualism . Paper first appears in the play as the judicial list naming the condemned, then as a document of proof outlining Proctor’s alleged crimes as a practicer of witchcraft and agent of the devil. As such, paper initially symbolises the false accusations that run rampant in Salem , and the destructive consequences of such on the lives of the accused innocents. This idea is furthered by Miller’s depiction of the signed, “seventy-two death warrants” of innocents, illustrating paper as a symbol of the unjust punishment and corruption within the Salem court . It is only when Proctor refuses to sign the testimony or have his false confession “posted on the church door”, that the symbol of paper begins to serve as a motif of heroism . As Proctor ultimately refuses to “sign [his] name to lies”, then “tears the paper and crumples” the document denouncing him as a devil-consorter in Act IV, Miller portrays paper as a mode for personal redemption in the face of blind injustice . This advocating for personal salvation is supported by the character of Hale, who undergoes a similar transformation. Although initially described as an intellectual whose paper “books are weighted with authority”, this religious authority loses its value throughout the tragic events of the play, as the injustices of the court lead him to lose his “great faith” in God. Ultimately, like Proctor, Hale is only able to gain personal redemption through his realisation of the immoral nature of the court and his attempts (albeit unrealised) to save the remaining incarcerated innocents from the fate of the gallows.

Quote Analysis

"There are wheels within wheels in this village, and fires within fires!”

Ann Putnam speaks this line when she admits to interrogating Tituba about the possibility of witchcraft having caused the early deaths of her seven infants. The audience can perceive her hysteria , as she begins to fear that the rumours of devil worship in Salem may be true, and that she may also lose her last surviving child, Ruth. Her sense of paranoia works to foreshadow the mass hysteria that is to overwhelm the town. This quote is also a direct reference to the prophet Ezekiel in the Bible , who compares his vision of God in his chariot to a gyroscope - an instrument of stability and balance. As such, Mrs. Putnam’s allusion to God is a direct reference to the rigidity of the Puritan value s in Salem, disguised as a creed of “unity” , when in reality it’s the root cause of social paranoia and resentment . The quote also illustrates that she believes that there are more complex and intricate forces present in Salem - the “deep and darkling forces” as described by Miller - which work to determine the fates of the townspeople. Combined with its fire imagery , this quote effectively foreshadows the drama that will unfold in the Salem court, in which Abigail and the girls will invent invisible spiritual forces to accuse innocents, in a court of “hot fire”, acting to “melt down all concealment”. 

“We cannot look to superstition in this. The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are as definite as stone.” 

Hale says this to Parris when he first arrives in Salem from Beverley, after he is asked to inspect Betty for signs of witchcraft or possession by the devil. Although Parris is already convinced by the rampant rumours in the town of the existence of the devil and its effect on his daughter, Hale (being a professional “investigator of witchcraft”) is more meticulous in his examination of such a “strange crisis”. By calling the devil “precise”, Hale depicts his true and unflinching belief in its existence, representing the inflexible Puritan mindset . This quote is integral to understanding Hale as a character, and thus the nature of his disillusionment later in the play, as it reveals that Hale does not believe in witchcraft due to the mass hysteria and paranoia of the town, but because he possesses genuine and resolute faith in every word of the Bible . As this faith is shown to “bring blood” later in the play, Miller displays the dangerous “power of theocracy” , as the audience perceives Hale becoming radically disillusioned in his religion and world view. 

Sample Essay Topics

1. “For twenty week he preach nothin’ but golden candlesticks til he had them!” Are the leaders of the community misguided in The Crucible ? Discuss.

2. Miller uses fire and ice imagery in The Crucible to denounce the nature of humanity. Discuss.

3. ‘In The Crucible , the characters make decisions based solely on their emotions’. Do you agree?

Now it's your turn! Give these essay topics a go. For more sample essay topics, head over to our The Crucible Study Guide t o practice writing essays using the analysis you've learnt in this blog!

Essay Topic Breakdown

Whenever you get a new essay topic, you can use LSG’s THINK and EXECUTE strategy , a technique to help you write better VCE essays. This essay topic breakdown will focus on the THINK part of the strategy. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy, then check it out in How To Write A Killer Text Response .

Within the THINK strategy, we have 3 steps, or ABC. These ABC components are:

Step 1: A nalyse

Step 2: B rainstorm

Step 3: C reate a Plan

Theme-Based Essay Prompt: In a theocracy, law and religion are bound together. What are the benefits and challenges of this depicted in The Crucible ? 

Step 1: analyse .

Here, we are asked to examine the benefits and challenges of a theocratic system , as depicted in The Crucible . Thus, we must consider both the positive and negative aspects of the binding of law and religion . It is a good idea to delegate two paragraphs to the challenges and one to the benefits , due to the fact that Miller wrote the play with the authorial intention of denouncing the repressive rigidity of its government - this means it is easier to think of negatives rather than positives. 

Step 2: Brainstorm

Let’s break down the term ‘ theocracy ’, as this is the focus of this essay topic. The play shows us various effects of such a system, but what does it actually mean? A theocracy is a form of government in which a religion (in this case, Puritanism) is recognised as the supreme ruling authority . Thus, as mentioned in the essay question, in a theocracy the rules of religion are treated as the law . Now, think of some of the words , phrases or key ideas you think of when you conjure up Salem’s version of theocracy. This may include:

  • Strictness of Puritan values
  • Unity vs. individualism
  • Exploitation of the name of the church for personal gains 
  • Societal repression
  • Superfluous power given to the court
  • Opportunity for individuals to reform 
  • Social vs. individual redemption
  • Disillusionment

Step 3: Create a Plan

When planning an essay, it is easy to let yourself go off track, discussing another point that is not quite relevant to the topic given. To prevent this from happening, always keep the topic firmly in your mind - glance at it periodically throughout your planning if needed, and check that every body paragraph that you are planning directly relates back to the topic and answers what it is asking . So, keeping the topic and its focus on theocracy firmly in mind, I chose to approach this essay with the following structured plan: 

Paragraph 1 : The Salem theocracy leads to the unjust exercise of power , resulting in a tragedy . 

  • Here, our focus is on the overarching injustices that the theocratic nature of the government allows to occur . 
  • Focus on the fact that it is because religion is the law , that the crime of witchcraft (believed to be a crime against God) is so severely punished (by death!). 
  • Also discuss that it is due to the rigidity of the theocracy that any slight divergence from a complete adherence to Puritanism is perceived as a crime . 
  • Examples of this include the witch hunt itself, and the victimisation of innocents who are condemned to be executed for crimes that they did not commit. 

Paragraph 2: The town’s theocratic belief in God is exploited by individuals who use it for their own personal gain .

  • Our job here is to highlight the selfish natures of certain individuals, who take advantage of the townspeople’s theocratic mindsets to utilise the town’s mass hysteria for their own motives . 
  • Examples of such characters include Abigail and Parris , who participate in the witch hunt out of vengeance and fear respectively.

Paragraph 3: However, the theocratic nature of the government allows opportunity for reform, and the ability to distinguish between morality and immorality.

  • Here we are discussing the benefit that arises out of the theocracy, namely the idea that the tragedy that results from such allow certain individuals to be enlightened and reformed .
  • Emphasise the fact that the theocracy does lead to disastrous effects , but it is from this hardship that we are able to distinguish the characters of good from the characters of evil. 
  • An example of a character who undergoes reform is Hale , who becomes simultaneously disillusioned and enlightened by the tragedy of the Salem persecution.
  • An example of an individual revealed by the events of the play to be ultimately immoral is Danforth , who refuses to change and reform , despite realising the injustice and cruelty of his actions. 

If you find this essay breakdown helpful, then you might want to check out our The Crucible Study Guide where we cover 5 A+ sample essays with EVERY essay annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY these essays achieved A+ so you reach your English goals! Let's get started.

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the crucible essay titles

Access a FREE sample of our The Crucible study guide

  • Learn how to brainstorm ANY essay topic and plan your essay so you answer the topic accurately
  • Apply LSG's THINK and EXECUTE strategy - a clear, proven method to elevate your Text Response essays.
  • Includes 5 sample A+ essays with EVERY essay annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY these essays achieved A+
  • Think like a 45+ study scorer through advanced discussions like symbols & motifs, views & values and character analysis

the crucible essay titles

We've explored themes, characters, literary devices and historical context amongst other things over on our Women of Troy by Euripides blog post. If you need a quick refresher or you’re new to studying this text, I highly recommend checking it out as well as our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

Here, we’ll be breaking down a Women of Troy essay topic using LSG’s THINK and EXECUTE strategy , a technique to help you write better VCE essays. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy, you can learn about it in our How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide.

Step 1: A nalyse Step 2: B rainstorm Step 3: C reate a Plan

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

The Prompt: ‘“We are loot my son and I, soldiers’ plunder.” Discuss how Euripides highlights the plight of women taken as slaves in war.’ 

Step 1: Analyse

The first thing to note about this prompt is that it is a 'how’ question , it is essentially asking us to identify the literary techniques Euripides has employed in order to ‘highlight’ the women’s ‘plight’. The noun ‘plight’ is defined as a troublesome or unfortunate situation, yet we must consider this word in the context of war. How do the women suffer? In other words, how does Euripides demonstrate to his reader just how dejected the women are as slaves?

It is relatively simple to identify the literary techniques which consistently appear throughout Euripides’ play, such as imagery, metaphor and simile ( not entirely sure what literary techniques are? We have a list of them for you here ). However, keeping in mind we have to form three paragraphs, we should consider Euripides’ authorial voice more broadly. For example, the women consistently lament their disillusionment with the gods. This is not a literary technique in itself, but it is still a literary choice which Euripides has made and which has been deepened with more specific literary devices like metaphor. The same could be said for the women’s struggle for hope, and the contrast between their joyous pasts and dismal futures.

Unlike a ‘to what extent’ question, we do not have to form an argument. Instead, we must forge a discussion of Euripides’ literary decisions as a playwright.

P1: Euripides juxtaposes the triumphant pasts of the Trojan women with their tragic futures. The 'shining citadels of Troy' are now a 'black smokened ruin’.

P2: Euripides illuminates the women’s attempts to retain futile hope. Note that hope also comes in the form of revenge.

P3: The dramatic irony of the play renders the women’s desperate calls upon the gods all the more tragic. Here, we can also make reference to the prologue, and Athene’s ploy to create a storm on the Greeks’ journey home which also ultimately affects the women.

At the heart of the conflict in The Women of Troy , lies the anguished 'suffering' (1) of the Trojan women as they confront their fates as 'slaves', and remember their pasts as wives and mothers. In his tragedy, first performed in Athens circa 415 BCE, Euripides amplifies the conflicted voices of the Trojan women, voices which are by contrast suppressed and disregarded in the Homeric works the Iliad and the Odyssey . Euripides’ stark dichotomy between the glories and 'rituals' of the past, and the sombre 'grief' of the present, elucidate the magnitude of their losses, both material and moral. For as Andromache laments, these women have been objectified as 'loot', mere spoils of war to be abused and exploited. (2) The women’s tendency to clutch onto chimerical (3) hopes and values only serves to further illuminate the profundity of their suffering once these ambitions have been brutally quashed in the 'dust' of their 'smoke blackened ruin' of Troy. Perhaps most significantly, Euripides juxtaposes the lingering though pitiful hope of the women with the gods’ complete 'desert[ion]' of Troy, positioning the women in an ironic chasm of cruel abandonment. Thus, the plight of women as wartime captives is dramatised by Euripides, corralling the audience into an ultimate stance of pity and empathy.

Annotations: (1) It is often useful to embed short/one word quotes in your essay (we teach you how in How To Embed Quotes in Your Essay Like a Boss ). It shows you have a great understanding of the text, and reads fluidly as opposed to overly long quotes.

‍ (2) Here, I have addressed the quote in the prompt in a single sentence, unpacking Euripides’ analogy of Andromache and Astyanax as ‘loot’. By comparing the two characters to war spoils, he is suggesting that they have been stripped of their free will and autonomy.

‍ (3) It is really important to vary your vocabulary in order to increase the sophistication of your essay. The adjective ‘chimerical’ refers to an ideal which is impossible to achieve.  

Euripides’ juxtaposition between the dismal future of the Trojan women and the zenith of their pasts, further illuminates the chasm of their sufferings and losses as the ultimate victims of wartime atrocities. Chiefly, Euripides contrasts Hecuba’s former royal status with the demoralizing fate of her captivity, encapsulating this tragic fall from nobility with the ironic imagery, 'throned in the dust’. Yet perhaps what truly emphasises her plight as a slave is her enduring role as a maternal figure of leadership, encapsulated in her regard of the chorus as '[her] children' and her reciprocated address as 'dear queen' and 'your mother'. Despite the 'death agony' she feels, she chooses to maintain her nobility through the depth of her morality, dramatizing the pitiful nature of her plight (4) . Moreover, Euripides’ juxtaposition between the 'shining citadels of Troy' and the 'misery' of the chorus elucidates the significance of 'home', a source of solace which has been barbarically stripped away from them. Likewise, Andromache laments her past as a dutiful and faithful wife, contrasting her fidelity against her fate as a 'concubine' to the formidable Neoptolemus (5) . Euripides implies that Andromache must abandon her reputation as the 'perfect wife' – the very attribute for which she was chosen especially – doomed to confront a life of sexual slavery, an unwilling mother of Neoptolemus’ children.

Annotations: (4) Here, I have used the word ‘plight’, making sure I am engaging directly with the prompt. It is often easy to fall into the trap of creating a generalised essay which only loosely adheres to the question. 

‍ (5) It is more sophisticated to specify the name of Andromache’s husband (Neoptolemus), rather than to just simply state ‘Andromache’s husband’ (even though he is not featured as a character in Euripides’ play).

Euripides (6) characterises the women by their tendency to clutch on to 'hope[s]' and ideals that are impossible to fulfil. Almost a coping mechanism of sorts, the chorus paradoxically romanticise the Greek landscape in the first episode, lauding the 'sacred halls', 'green fields', 'beautiful river[s]' and 'wealth' of Hellas. Yet, their ardent critiques of their future 'home[s]' rejects any notion that the women truly believe these glorifications of the Greek realm. Similarly, Hecuba is motivated by her futile hope that Astyanax may one day seek vengeance and be 'the savior of Troy' by 'rebuild[ing]' the city. Yet tragically, this doomed hope is violently quashed by Odysseus 'blind panic' and acute lack of rationality: the 'liar' and 'deceiver' who 'lead the Greek council' in their debate. Though this hope initially provides her with some form of solace, all comfort is dashed with the announcement of his 'butchery'. Likewise, Cassandra is motivated by her own pursuit for revenge, lauding her 'sacred marriage' to Agamemnon as an event worthy of 'praise' and 'celebration'. Yet her hope is also jaded, for she must in the process 'flout all religious feeling' as a slave of Agamemnon’s 'lust', until she meets her painful hour of death at Clytemnestra’s hands.

Annotations: (6) Notice that several of the sentences have begun with ‘Euripides characterises’ or ‘Euripides illuminates’, engaging with the ‘how’ part of the prompt. We are showing what the author has done and why.

Ironically, Euripides illuminates the plight of the Trojan women through his dramatic elucidation of the gods’ callous abandonment of the ruined Troy. Euripides juxtaposes the past 'rituals', 'dances', 'songs', 'sacrifices', 'offerings' and 'ceremonies' of the chorus with their bitter laments that 'the gods hate Troy' and that they are ultimately characterised by avarice. They are neither answered not consoled in their ultimate time of mourning, for the audience is aware that Poseidon has fled the scene in the prologue, disillusioned by the 'ceas[ing]' of 'worship', leaving 'nothing (…) worth a god’s consideration' in the fallen city. What is also rendered ironic by Euripides, is Athene’s formidable ploy to 'make the Greeks’ return home a complete disaster.' Regardless of Athene’s true motives for instigating this ultimate pursuit of comeuppance, the fact remains that the women too must endure this perilous journey to Greece. Not only are the despairing wives, mothers and daughters condemned to 'abject slavery' on foreign soil, they are 'innocent: victims who may – alongside the Greeks – find themselves on the shores of Euboea, among the 'float[ing] (…) corpses' of the Greek soldiers. They are not simply abandoned by the gods, they are, directly or indirectly, punished. (7)

Annotations: (7) This is a more original point which other students may not automatically think of. We often view Athene’s ‘ploy’ as a deserved punishment of the ‘murderous’ Greeks, yet there is no true justice, for the women too are ultimately affected.

In a play which serves to fill the silence of the Trojan women in the legendary works of the Iliad and the Odyssey (8) , Euripides augments the pitiful plight of the Trojan women with agonizing references to past 'happiness', and equally unbearable forecasts of their roles as 'slaves' of Greek lust. They are indeed 'loot' and they are indeed 'plunder' – as Andromache so bitterly laments – yet their plight is recorded in the works of 'poets' to come, remembered as a legacy of stoicism 'a hundred generations hence.' Taken as our 'great theme', these women are 'sufferer[s]', yet they are also heroes.

Annotations: (8) Just as I have done in the introduction, I have referred to the context of the play in the conclusion. The Iliad and the Odyssey provided the framework for Euripides’ play, so by referencing Homer’s works we are showing the examiner that we have an understanding of the historical context. 

If you'd like to dive deeper into Women of Troy, check out our A Killer Text Guide: Women of Troy study guide. In it, we teach you how to how to think like a 50 study scorer through advanced discussions on topics such as views and values and metalanguage, we provide you with 5 A+ sample essays that are fully annotated and everything is broken down into easy-to-understand concepts so that students of all levels can understand and apply what we teach!!

When it comes to studying a text for the text response section of Year 12 English, what may seem like an obvious point is often overlooked: it is essential to  know your text . This doesn’t just mean having read it a few times either – in order to write well on it, a high level of familiarity with the text’s structure, context, themes, and characters is paramount. To read a detailed guide on Text Response, head over to our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response .

Authors  structure  their texts in a certain way for a reason, so it’s important to pick up on how they’ve used this to impart a message or emphasise a point. Additionally, being highly familiar with the plot or order of events will give you a better grasp of narrative and character development.

It’s also a good idea to research the  life of the author , as this can sometimes explain why certain elements or events were included in the text. Researching the  social and historical setting  of your text will further help you to understand characters’ behaviour, and generally gives you a clearer ‘image’ of the text in your mind.

The  overarching themes  of a text usually only become apparent once you know the text as a whole. Moreover, once you are very familiar with a text, you will find that you can link up events or ideas that seemed unrelated at first, and use them to support your views on the text.

For each  character , it is important to understand how they developed, what their key characteristics are and the nature of their relationships with other characters in the text. This is especially crucial since many essay questions are based solely on characters.

With all this said, what methods can you use to get to know your text?

Reading the text itself:  while this may seem obvious, it’s important to do it right! Read it for the first time as you would a normal book, then increase the level of detail and intricacy you look for on each consecutive re-read.  Making notes ,  annotating  and  highlighting  as you go is also highly important. If you find reading challenging, try breaking the text down into small sections to read at a time.

Discussion:  talk about the text! Nothing develops opinions better than arguing your point with teachers, friends, or parents – whoever is around. Not only does this introduce you to other ways of looking at the text, it helps you to cement your ideas, which will in turn greatly improve your essay writing.

External resources : it’s a good idea to read widely about your text, through other people’s essays, study guides, articles, and reviews. Your teacher may provide you with some of these, but don’t be afraid to search for your own material!

We’ve explored historical context, themes, essay planning and essay topics over on our Like a House on Fire by Cate Kennedy blog post. If you need a quick refresher or you’re new to studying this text, I highly recommend checking it out!

[Video Transcription]

Hey guys, welcome back to Lisa's Study Guides. So this week I have another essay topic breakdown for you. So eventually I'm going to get through all of the VCAA texts that are on the study design, but we're slowly going to get there and are just want to say yet again, even though this one is like a house on fire, I am really glad if you've clicked on this video and you're not necessarily studying it because as always with all my videos, I try to give you an overall message for you to take away that can be applied to any single text. So that is the same for this particular text today. And so even though the takeaway message for this video is quite specific to short stories, it's still an important consideration for any text that you're studying. Ideally, you want to use a diverse range of evidence for any text, but in particular, for short stories, you don't just want to rely on a small handful, but to try and make links between the different short stories. So let's see what that means on the other side of this quick overview of the text. Like a House on Fire is a collection of short stories by the author, Cate Kennedy, and unlike a lot of other texts on the study design, this book portrays a lot of very domestic situations, which seems fairly boring compared to some of the other texts that other students might be doing. However, I'm really excited about this text because the short stories are great. Not because they have groundbreaking premises, which they don't, but because of how effortlessly and deeply emotive they are. So the domestic scenarios actually help us relate to the characters in the stories and empathize with the complexity of their experiences. The essay topic we'll be looking at today is in Like a House on Fire, Kennedy finds strength in ordinary people. Discuss. Here, the term which you really have to think about is strength. We already know that she depicts the story of ordinary people, of people like you or me, or even just people we may know, but does she find strength in them? It could be physical strength, but more often than not, it might be other types of strength. For instance, the mental strength it takes to cope with intense pressure or the emotional strength it takes to make a difficult choice or action. It's important to think about how they might actually apply throughout the book. In this sense, our essay will have essentially two halves. The first two body paragraphs we'll look at scenarios of intense pressure, be it through the loss of control in one's life or a domestic situation which has become emotionally tense. The last two body paragraphs will then consider the types of strength that Kennedy evinces in these stories. And we'll contend that she does find strength in the characters who face a difficult decision, but that she also finds a lot more strength in the characters who managed to cope with their situation and grapple with the tensions in their lives.

Paragraph one

In many of her stories, Kennedy portrays characters who experience powerlessness. This loss of power can come a number of ways. For instance, both Flexion and Like a House on Fire tell the story of men who have injured their previously reliable bodies and have thus been rendered immobile. But they also tell the story of their respective wives who have lost some control over their lives now that they have to care for their husbands. On the other hand, there are the kids in Whirlpool whose mother insists that they dress a certain way for a Christmas photo. Her hand on your shoulders, exerting pressure that pushes you down. Kennedy's use of second person really makes you feel this pressure that keeps you from going out to the pool you so desperately desire to be in. Evidently powerlessness is an experience that comes in many shapes and forms in several stories.

Paragraph two

In addition to this, Kennedy explores other emotional tensions across the collection, subverting the idea that the home is necessarily a safe sanctuary. This is where she really goes beyond just the idea of powerlessness, but actually jumps into scenarios that are much more emotionally complex. In Ashes for instance, we see the homosexual protagonist struggle with feeling useless and tongue tied, embarrassed by the floundering pause between his mother and himself. There is a significant emotional hurdle there, which is particularly poignant given that mothers are usually considered a source of safety and comfort for their children. Kennedy's story of domesticity actually subvert or question what we might think of the domestic space shared by family members. If you have the Scribe edition of the book, the artwork on the cover would depict a vase of wilting flowers, an empty picture frame, and a spilt cup of coffee. These are all visual symbols of an imperfect domestic life. A similar rift exists between husband and wife in both Five Dollar Family and Waiting, the women find themselves unable to emotionally depend on their partners. While Michelle in Five Dollar Family despises her husbands startled, faintly incredulous expression, an inability to care for their child, the protagonist in Waiting struggles to talk about her miscarriages with her husband who is already worn down as it is. Kennedy takes these household roles of mother, son, husband, wife, and really dives into the complex shades of emotion that lies within these relationships. We realize through her stories that a mother can't always provide comfort to a child and that a husband isn't always the dependable partner that he's supposed to be.

Paragraph three

However, Kennedy does find strength in some characters who do take a bold or courageous leap in some way. These are really important moments in which she is able to show us the strength that it takes to make these decisions. And she triumphs however small or insignificant that can be achieved. A moment that really stands out to me is the ending of Laminex and Mirrors, where the protagonist rebelliously smuggles a hospital patient out for a smoke only to have to take him back into his ward through the main entrance and therefore get them both caught. She recounts this experience as the one I remember most clearly from the year I turned 18. The two of us content, just for this perfect moment. And their success resonates with the audience, even though the protagonist would have lost her job and therefore the income she needed for her trip to London, Kennedy demonstrates her strength in choosing compassion for an elderly patient. Even the sister in Whirlpool, who wasn't exactly kind to the protagonist in the beginning, forms an unlikely alliance with her against their mother, sharing a reckless moment and cutting their photo shoot short. Bold leaps such as these are ones that take strength and therefore deserve admiration.

Paragraph four

However, more often than not, Kennedy's stories are more about the strength needed to simply cope with life, one day at a time. She explores the minutiae of her characters lives in a way that conveys the day to day struggles, but also hints at the underlying fortitude needed to deal with these things on a daily basis. In Tender, the wife feels as if everything at home is on the verge of coming apart since her husband is only able to cook tuna and pasta casserole for their kids. However, when she must get a possibly malignant tumor removed, her concern of whether there'll be tuna and pasta in the pantry just in case, demonstrates her selfless nature. Kennedy thus creates a character who is strong for others, even when her own life at home is disorderly and her health may be in jeopardy. The strength of gritting one's teeth and getting on with things in spite of emotional tension is a central idea across this collection, and many other examples are there for you to consider as well. And so we come to the end of our essay. Hopefully going through this gives you an idea of how to cover more bases with your evidence. Remember that you don't have to recount lots and lots of events, but it's more important to engage with what the events are actually telling us about people. This is particularly important for prompts like this one, where it heavily focuses on the people involved. That is it for me this week, please give this video a thumbs up. If you wanted to say thanks to Mark, who has been helping me write these scripts up for a lot of the text response essay, topic breakdowns. If you enjoyed this, then you might also be interested in the live stream coming up next week, which will be on Friday the 25th of May at 5:00 PM. I'll be covering the topic of analyzing argument for the second time, just because there's so much to get through. I'll also be announcing some special things during that particular live stream. So make sure you're there so you're the first to hear it. I will see you guys next week. Bye.

Like a House on Fire by Cate Kennedy

How To Get An A+ On Your Like A House On Fire Essay

Close Analysis Of 'Cake' From Like A House On Fire

Text Response can be difficult because there are many different aspects of the text you need to discuss in an intellectual and sophisticated manner. The key points you need to include are stated in the VCAA Text Response criteria as shown below:

  • the ideas, characters and themes constructed by the author/director and presented in the selected text
  • the way the author/director uses structures, features and conventions to construct meaning
  • the ways in which authors/directors express or imply a point of view and values
  • the ways in which readers’ interpretations of text differ and why.

We have explored some of the different criterion points in past blog posts, but this time we’ll be focusing on number 3,

the ways in which authors/directors express or imply a point of view and values.

Views: How the author  sees  something

  • Perspective
  • Way of thinking
  • Observation

Values: How the author  thinks  about something

In VCE, simply exploring themes and character development is not enough to score yourself a higher-graded essay. This is where discussion on ‘views and values’ comes in. Essentially this criterion urges you to ask yourself, ‘what are the author’s beliefs or opinion on this particular idea/issue?’ All novels/films are written to represent their author’s views and values and, as a reader it is your job to interpret what you think the author is trying to say or what they’re trying to teach us. And it’s not as hard as it seems either. You’ve instinctively done this when reading other books or watching movies without even realising it. For example, you’ve probably walked out of the cinemas after thoroughly enjoying a film because the ideas explored sat well with you, ‘I’m glad in  Hunger Games  they’re taking action and rebelling against a totalitarian society’ or, ‘that was a great film because it gave insight on how women can be just as powerful as men!’ Therefore, it is possible in this case that the author of this series favours the disintegration of tyrannical societies and promotes female empowerment.

Views and values are also based on ideas and attitudes of when it was written and where it was set – this brings both social and cultural context into consideration as well. Issues commonly explored include gender roles, racial inequality, class hierarchy, and more. For example, Margaret Atwood’s  Cat’s Eye , is set during the 20th century and explores feminism through women’s roles during World War II while Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights  depicts the divide between social classes and challenges the strict Victorian values of how society condemns cross-class relationships, in particular between Catherine and Heathcliffe.

Questions to ask yourself when exploring views and values:

  • Is the author supporting or condeming/critising this idea?
  • Through which literary devices are they supporting or condemning/critising the idea?
  • Which characters represent society’s values? Which ones oppose them? Do we as readers favour those that represent or oppose society’s values?
  • Does the author encourage us to support the morals and opinions displayed by the characters or those supported in that setting/time?

Here’s a sample discussion on the author’s views and values:

‘…Dickens characterises Scrooge as being allegorically representative of the industrial age in which he lived. Scrooge describes the poor as ‘surplus population’, revealing his cruel nature as he would rather they die than having to donate money to them. Dickens critiques the industrial revolution whereby wealth lead to ignorance towards poor as the upperclassmen would easily dismiss underclassmen, feeling no responsibility to help them as they believed they were of no use to society. ‘ ( A Christmas Carol,  Charles Dickens)

Here’s a list of some sample essay prompts you may get in regards to exploring ‘views and values’:

  • ‘Cat’s Eye shows us that society’s expectations are damaging to women.’ To what extent do you agree? ( Cat’s Eye , Margaret Atwood)
  • ‘Bronte criticises the social class conventions of her time as she demonstrates that those in the lower classes can succeed.’ ( Wuthering Heights,  Emily Bronte)
  • ‘Social criticism plays a major role in A Christmas Carol.’ ( A Christmas Carol,  Charles Dickens)
  • ‘Hamid shows that it is difficult to find our identity in modern society, with the ever-changing social and politics surrounding us.’ ( The Reluctant Fundamentalist , Mohsin Hamid)
  • ‘In  Ransom  Malouf depicts war as the experience of grief, loss and destructive waste. The event of war lacks any heroic dimension. Discuss.’ ( Ransom,  David Malouf)

We've curated essay prompts based off our The Crucible and Year of Wonders Study Guide which explores themes, characters, and quotes.

  • Compare how the conflict between illusion and reality is explored in these texts. ‍
  • 'Uncertainty breeds fear, and fear breeds further uncertainty.' Compare how this idea is demonstrated in The Crucible and Year of Wonders . ‍
  • Compare how secrets and superstition affect the characters in both texts. ‍
  • Compare how The Crucible and Year of Wonders explore issues of human fallibility and deception. ‍
  • Compare the ways these texts examine the preservation of morality amidst accusation and condemnation. ‍
  • 'Humans are ultimately inclined towards evil rather than good.' Compare how the two texts explore this inclination. ‍
  • Compare how The Crucible and Year of Wonders examines the strength of one's faith during hardship and conflict. ‍
  • “How little we know, I thought, of the people we live amongst.” ( Year of Wonders ) Compare what the two texts say about community and one's understanding of reality. ‍
  • "Here we are, alive, and you and I will have to make it what we can.” ( Year of Wonders) 'It is only possible to discover what it means to live when faced with death.' Compare the ways these texts explore this possibility. ‍
  • “It is the essence of power that it accrues to those with the ability to determine the nature of the real.” ( The Crucible ) Compare the ways the two texts demonstrate the connection between power and controlling the truth. ‍
  • Compare how truths and falsehoods shape the lives and societies in The Crucible and Year of Wonders . ‍
  • Compare how The Crucible and Year of Wonders shows that conflict can cause both regression and strengthening of integrity and humanity. ‍
  • Compare how women are perceived in both The Crucible and Year of Wonders . ‍
  • Compare the ways morality is examined and determined in these texts. ‍
  • "Man, remember, until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in heaven?" ( The Crucible ) Compare how the two texts explore the repercussions of disillusionment.

The Crucible and Year of Wonders is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Comparative (also known as Reading and Comparing). For a detailed guide on Comparative , check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative .

Have you ever wondered how you can read your books so efficiently that you will be able to identify the most important passages, quotes, symbols, author’s views and values etc. all in one go? Well, I’m going to share some handy tips you can adopt while annotating a novel that will hopefully help you achieve this. Warning – if you are a reader who likes to preserve their books and keep them crispy clean, this study guide probably isn’t for you. However, keep in mind that annotating texts is a powerful step in getting to know your text and optimising your essay responses.

Before we get started, what exactly is ‘annotating’? To annotate means to add notes to a text where you provide extra comments or explanations (usually in the margins of the book). It is very much an activity for yourself, because it allows you to become an  active reader –  where you are engaged in thinking about the plot, themes, characters etc. as you are reading and jotting down key thoughts. As a result, active readers are more likely to become immersed in the story, absorb the ideas better, be more open-minded and therefore usually develop their own unique interpretation of the text. While annotating may not come so naturally to some of you, this guide below should definitely equip you with a good starting ground!

1. Think of your text as a colouring book.  Use different coloured highlighters for different themes. This way when you’re rummaging through your book to find a certain quote to support a theme, say you specifically only highlight ‘romance’ theme in pink, it’s much easier for you to find the pink than to look through a whole book highlighted all in green. Think of it as creating a trail for you to follow throughout the book. Creating a legend at the start of the book (for example, in the contents page) can help you keep track of which colour stands for which theme.

2. Circle new vocabulary.  Look it up and then write their definitions next to the word. Next, keep a word bank in a workbook or on a word document containing any words you’ve learnt. Now you’ve successfully killed two stones with one bird –  you’ve broadened your vocabulary and you’ve got a handy sophisticated vocabulary list you can always refer to when it comes to essay writing!

3. Write notes in the margins.  Here you can summarise the significant points of a passage without needing to re-read the whole thing again. Use a pencil rather than pen. If you don’t like writing on paper, you can always use sticky notes and stick them to the pages. However, avoid writing full comprehensive notes in the margins. You’re not trying to write another book inside the empty sections of a book. Use a separate workbook or a word document for that!

4. Be open to different interpretations.  Just because your teacher or a study guide interprets the text in particular way, doesn’t mean that you need to agree. If you see things from a different angle, that’s an advantage for you. Remember that you can be ambiguous with your ideas, understanding a certain character or theme from multiple perspectives offers you a variety of ideas that can be applied in your essay. This idea is echoed by English assessors in the VCAA 2013 Examination Report,

…students should be encouraged to have confidence in their own reading and demonstrate a personal understanding of their text, rather than relying exclusively on commercially produced material. All texts are complex works of art with a wealth of opportunity for exploration. There is no ‘expected’ response to a topic, and the most successful pieces were those that were thoughtful and fresh.

5. Got burning questions that pop up?  Don’t dismiss what you don’t understand! Put down a question mark and do some research. The better you understand your text now, the greater understanding you will have of events that occur later in the text.

6. Mark literary devices.  Symbols, metaphors, alliteration, assonance – the list goes on. Use shapes such as circles, triangles, squares and create a legend in order to keep track of the different literary devices that present themselves throughout the text. Bear in mind that the best essays always include a well-rounded discussion about the author’s choices in literary techniques and how they develop specific themes and/or characters.

7. Dog-ear important passages . Some key passages can be lengthy (spreading over several pages), and it can be a pain to highlight pages and pages of a book (it might too much for your eyes to handle too – ouch!) so instead, fold the corners of those pages down so that you know exactly where that key event occurs.

8. Find unique phrases/quotes.  You’ll come across the same quotes that are repeatedly mentioned in class, study guides and essays that other students have written. To stand out, you should try to find those quotes that are equally powerful but are somewhat overlooked or underrated.

9. Annotate study notes and study guides.  These notes are written by another reader who has developed their own ideas about the text – this doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to share the same ideas as there is always opportunity to disagree with another’s opinion. Draw smiley faces or frowns in areas where you agree or disagree. This can be the basis of an interesting discussion in your own essay.

10. Don’t be afraid to destroy that book!  Yes, it’s nice to have a book crispy and clean, but think of annotating as a way to own that book! Show that you know the in and outs of the text so well that if someone else were to pick it up, they would have no idea where to even begin! Having proper notes in the right places and annotations will make the biggest difference.

Keep in mind that annotating does not equal skimming (where you briefly speed-read through your text). If you’re planning to only flick through the book, you are probably not going to find those unique passages or under-used yet powerful quotes. Take it slow and easy!

Before you read this A+ essay by one of LSG's tutors, Risini, make sure you've read our Extinction blog post covering themes, characters, and more!

In a play that tackles issues ranging from conservation to human indulgence and morality it can be difficult to write a well-structured and detailed response to what usually seems like an existential topic (just like the one below). And not to mention the challenge of including all four characters in your essay without the stale character-based approach. So, below is an example of a high scoring essay with tips on how you can elevate the quality of your response to get those extra points!

In this essay, you'll see Risini has offered annotations throughout her essay to show you her thinking. If you find this helpful, then you might want to check out our Extinction: A Killer Text Guide where we cover 5 A+ sample essays (written by a 50 study scorer!) with EVERY essay annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY these essays achieved A+ so you reach your English goals! Let's get started.

Rayson’s play is about our propensity as humans to make questionable decisions despite our moral convictions. 


Mankind’s ambition to improve and develop as human beings distinguishes themselves from their bestial, primal instincts (1) . However, Hannie Rayson’s play Extinction , explores the complexities threaded throughout the human condition that propel individuals towards the ethically ambiguous (2) . Rayson examines the the insecurities peppering the contemporary lifestyle, that threaten the integrity of our outward ideologies (3) . Similarly, Rayson explores our indelible connection with nature that leads individuals to pursue baser impulses. Ultimately however, Rayson captures the strength of the human capacity to align our moral convictions with our judgements (4) . 


(1) This play tackles humanity and its flaws, so beginning with a broad, conceptual sentence is a good way to ease into discussion.

(2) Addressing topic.

(3) Agreeing with the topic.

(4) Challenging the topic. Indicating Rayson’s play isn’t only about questionable decision making, it is also about people’s ability to make the morally right decisions.

Paragraph 1

In spite of people’s outward conformity to their moral values, Rayson captures the power of human insecurities to compromise their values (5) . It is the birth of moral dilemmas from such insecurities, that prompts questionable decision-making (6) . Dixon-Brown, who exercises a pragmatic ideology as fortified by her Dixon-Brown Index and classifies the tiger quolls as “functionally extinct”, leaves her insecure and longing for meaningful connection and companionship (7) . Indisputably, Harry Jewell’s charming exterior and sensitivity offers to fill Dixon-Brown’s emotional chasm, but also offers a moral dilemma for Dixon-Brown: to fill this chasm, or uphold her professional integrity. Dixon-Brown’s pursuit of “illicit professional compromise” with Harry, as a result of her moral dilemma, distorts her moral stance, now considering tiger quolls as simply “hard to find” and “shy”. Rayson (8) challenges the integrity of people’s moral values, demonstrating how one’s emotional hunger can outweigh even their own moral expectations. Like Dixon-Brown, Piper (9) values her relationships, yet is neither immune to hypocrisy. Championing the untiring philosophy that “all species are worth saving”, Piper recognises humanity’s moral responsibility to offer compassion to life beyond our own species. However, she is devastated by Beast’s (10) prognosis, lamenting “I am not ready”, despite having previously baulked at “Twinkie’s pacer” (11) . Rayson undermines Piper’s outward altruism, challenging whether it merely cloaks a selfish desire to appease her own insecurities of losing her loved ones. Regardless of our moral convictions, Rayson explores the insecurities formed from our fears of loneliness that compel individuals to compromise their moral ideals. 

(5) Notice how I discuss many themes in Extinction, beyond morality and decision-making. From understanding and reasoning with characters, I also explore companionship, belonging, isolation and hypocrisy. I avoid introducing character names in the topic sentence, as this can scream ‘character-based paragraph’ to the examiner.

(6) Immediately addressing views and values of writer. This is more interesting than the conventional approach of presenting evidence, exploring it then diving into values of the writer.

(7) Here, I try to bring Dixon-Brown to life by empathising with her. Compare this with: Dixon-Brown’s pragmatic exterior is undermined when she pursues a romantic affair with Harry Jewell. This sounds more like summary and comes off robotic and unemotional, neither does it add any dimension to her character.

(8) Using the author’s name when exploring views and values.

(9) It’s always nice to have a transition sentence between a new piece of evidence, especially in Extinction when a lot of the evidence is character-based.

(10) Use of minor characters.

(11) Minor characters again.

Paragraph 2 ‍

Rayson explores people’s inextricable connection with nature that undermines the purity of our ideology (12) . In spite of Harry’s sentimental connection with nature that motivates him to pursue the Quoll Project, reminiscing of his childhood pet “Errol Flynn” and being a part of a family that made a “living off the land”, Rayson explores our darker ties to nature that leads individuals to make questionable decisions (13) . Through the symbol of the birds of prey (14) in Harry and Piper’s camp, including the beautiful “barking owl”, Rayson alludes to how humans can too manipulate and prey to indulge their baser impulses, leaving aside morals (15) . Beyond this, Rayson investigates the universal concept of mortality (16) that is shared by all life forms in nature. Confronting the shadow of mortality, Andy’s stoic façade and impenetrable ideology is undermined. He shares his stamp of impermanence with the injured tiger quoll with a “snapped spinal column”, and is likely able to empathise with it (17) . Thus, his decision to euthanise the quoll may have been the inadvertent projection of his desire to end his own suffering. Through Piper, who challenges Andy for choosing the “most convenient option”, Rayson illuminates how our ties to nature can compromise our ethics and decisions, reaffirming our propensity towards moral contradictions. 

(12) In a play concerned with the environment, I try to include people’s connection to nature and the environment when I can.

(13) Good to mention topic.

(14) Include the symbols of nature that Rayson weaves into the play and its meaning.

(15) Good to mention topic.

(16) Again, I try to discuss more themes apart from morality and decision-making by including mortality. In a play concerning endangered species and measuring the worth of life, try to discuss mortality whenever possible.

(17) Again, I think finding similarities between the lives of animals and humans is crucial in this play, rather than considering them as two separate entities.

Paragraph 3

Ultimately, Rayson captures how humanity’s moral convictions can in fact align with their decisions when decisions are founded through virtuous ideals. Despite oscillating moral values that threaten the balance of Andy and Piper’s relationship (18) , their shared morality of compassion and sacrifice reunite them at the play’s denouement. Andy’s willingness to sacrifice their relationship in order to not “waste her life” and Piper’s refusal to leave Andy side despite a future that “just leads to sadness” illustrates the human capacity to reconcile their differences when their moral values align with their future ambition. Rayson echoes this capacity for reconciliation through the setting (19) of the animal shelter in the play; a setting representing preservation and hope. Although the play begins with a “wet and windy night” in the animal shelter, intensifying the arguing and frustration (20) , Rayson closes with the “gleam” and “twitch” of the tiger quoll in the same setting. This realises humanity’s capability making moral decisions through their virtuous ideals; striving to preserve and protect one’s relationships and natural habitat. As well as the possibility of a live tiger quoll who offers hope for their natural environment, Andy and Piper, who believe in loyalty and resilience, offer hope in a world permeated by moral contradiction. 

(18) I challenge the topic but still acknowledge my previous agreement with the topic.

(19) Use of metalanguage. Here I’ve explored a more natural setting, however Rayson often transitions between the city scape at Dixon-Brown’s apartment where the “noise of the city and peak-hour traffic rumbles below” and the natural landscape, “a wildlife rescue centre tucked away in the Cape Otway rainforest”. It can be effective to notice the contrast between the two and the events that occur in each setting.

(20) If analysing setting: Explore the effect of the setting on the mood of scene or characters. Then explore its significance to the views and values of the author.

Rayson’s (21) Extinction explores humankind’s moral frailty and gravitation towards the ethical when we focus too closely on ourselves. Rayson examines the insecurities woven throughout the human condition and our inextricable ties to nature that threaten our moral foundations, both prompting individuals to consider themselves over their relationships and duties to the environment. However, Rayson ultimately captures the resilience of mankind to unite despite their flaws, offering hope for the future of our environment and species. 

(21) Finish with a reflection of the bigger picture and overarching values the author promotes or condemns.

At first glance, Extinction may just seem like a short story of a chaotic quartet, but there are so many hearty themes to unpack and discuss. After a few re-reads, you will discover some unique finds, and after a few essays, you will find overlaps and patterns in seemingly philosophical topics.

For more sample essay topics, head over here so you can start practising some of the tips you've learnt in this blog! You'll also find another essay topic breakdown where we show you a 50 study scorer's essay plan. Happy writing!

Extra Resources

The Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response ‍

Extinction by Hannie Rayson ‍

Extinction Text Guide Study Guide

Picture this: you’re sitting down at your desk, fumbling your fingers, inspecting the new stationary that you convinced yourself you needed for year 12, resisting the urge to check your phone. Your text response SAC is in two weeks. You’re freaking out because you want, no, need an A+. You decide to write a practice essay for your English teacher. Practice makes perfect, right? You stay up for hours, pouring your heart and soul into this essay. The result? B+. Where did I go wrong?

That’s where I come in! Writing an A+ essay can be really tough without examples and specific advice. Before reading on, make sure you've read our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response and Golden Age blog so you are up to scratch.

In this article I will be explaining some basic dos and don’ts of writing an essay on The Golden Age , providing a model essay as an example. At the end of this blog is also a video based on another essay prompt to help you prepare for your Golden Age studies!

The following prompt will be referenced throughout the post;

‘The Golden Age’ shows that everyone needs love and recognition. Discuss.

Planning: the silent killer of A+ essays

I’m sure your teachers have emphasised the importance of planning. In case they haven’t, allow me to reiterate that great planning is compulsory for a great essay . However, flimsy arguments aren’t going to get you an A+. The examiners are looking for complex arguments , providing a variety of perspectives of the themes at hand. From the above prompt, the key word is, ‘discuss’. This means that you should be discussing the prompt, not blindly agreeing with it . Make sure you don’t write anything that wouldn’t sit right with London. ‍

Don’t plan out basic arguments that are one-dimensional. This may give you a pass in English, but won’t distinguish you as a top-scoring student.

For example:

  • Paragraph 1: The children at TGA need love and recognition.
  • Paragraph 2: Ida and Meyer need love and recognition
  • Paragraph 3: Sister Penny needs love and recognition.

The above paragraphs merely agree with the statement, but don’t delve into the many aspects of the novel that could contribute to a sophisticated essay.

Do create complex arguments, or paragraphs with a twist! If you can justify your argument and it makes sense, include it in your essay. There are many ways that you could answer this question, but my plan looks like this:

  • Paragraph 1: Frank Gold yearns for mature, adult love, not recognition from onlookers or outsiders
  • Paragraph 2: Ida Gold does not seek recognition from Australia, but love and validation from herself
  • Paragraph 3: Albert requires love from a specific kind of relationship – family, and Sullivan may view love from his father as pity which he rebukes

See the difference?

The introduction:

How to start your essay off with a bang.

Personally, I always struggled with starting an introduction. The examiners will be reading and marking thousands of essays, so if possible, starting your introduction with something other than Joan London’s ‘The Golden Age’… is a great way to make you stand out from the crowd. Having a strong start is essential to pave the way for a clear and concise essay. You could start with a quote/scene from the text! This is not essential, but it’s a great way to mix things up. This is my start:

Perhaps nothing exemplifies the power of love and recognition more than the bond between Albert Sutton and his older sister, Lizzie, in Joan London’s ‘The Golden Age’. Many of London’s characters exhibit suffering that requires compassion and support to heal and grow, to distinguish present from past. However, London explores the perspectives of such characters from different aspects of trauma, and emphasise that love and recognition do not always work to heal and mature. Frank Gold, the novel’s resident “sneaky” boy who adjusts to newfound life in the Golden Age Convalescent Home seeks love as an adult, rather than eliciting sympathy as a supposed victim. Here love and recognition are unsuccessful in amending Frank’s troubles when given from the perspective of an outsider, a judgemental onlooker. In a similar sense, Ida Gold seeks recognition not from Australia, who she views as a ‘backwater’, but validation in herself after having been ousted from her Hungarian identity. London, however, makes sure to emphasise the impact that Sullivan has on Frank Gold’s life. Sullivan, a boy only a few years older than Frank, seems content with his future, with his fate, despite his sacrifice of rugby and conventional life.  There is a lacking sense of urgency for love and recognition in Sullivan’s life, rather, it appears that Sullivan accepts his fate, regardless of his father’s sympathy or support. Thus, London explores a myriad of ways in which love and recognition may or may not heal wounds inflicted upon individuals.

Remember, there are many other ways you could start your essay.

The body paragraphs: To TEEL or not to TEEL?

I’m sure you’ve heard of TEEL countless times since year 7. Topic sentence, evidence, explanation, link. The truth is that these elements are all very important in a body paragraph. However, following a rigid structure will render your essay bland and repetitive. It is also extremely important to note that you should be using evidence from multiple points in the text , and you should be making sure that your paragraphs are directly answering the question . Write what feels natural to you, and most importantly, don’t abuse a thesaurus . If you can’t read your essay without rummaging for a dictionary every second sentence, you should rewrite it.  If vocabulary isn’t your strong point (it definitely isn’t mine!), focus on clean sentence structure and solid arguments. There’s nothing worse than you using a fancy word incorrectly.

Don’t overuse your thesaurus in an attempt to sound sophisticated, and don’t use the same structure for every sentence. For example:

Prematurely in the paperback London makes an allusion to Norm White, the denizen horticulturalist of The Golden Age Convalescent Home…

That was an exaggerated example generated by searching for synonyms. As you can see, it sounds silly, and some of the words don’t even make sense. I mean, “denizen horticulturalist”…really?

Do mix up your paragraph structure! If vocabulary is your weak point, focus on clean language.

Here’s mine:

Early in the novel, London makes reference to Norm White, the resident groundskeeper of The Golden Age Convalescent Home. Norm White hands Frank Gold a cigarette, “as if to say a man has the right to smoke in peace”. Here, there is a complete disregard for rule and convention, an idea that London emphasises throughout the text. This feature provides a counter-cultural experience for Frank, pushing him to realise that he is a strong human being rather than a mere victim. This is a clear contrast to the “babyishness” of the home, and is used as evidence of true humanity in an era where society judged upon the unconventional. Frank yearns for a traditional Australian life after his trauma in Hungary; “his own memory…lodged like an attic in the front part of his brain”. Hedwiga and Julia Marai’s caring of him pushed him towards fear and reluctance to trust, yet also pressured him to seek acceptance in a world that ostracises him for his Jewish heritage and polio diagnosis. This here is why Frank desires a mature, adult connection – love that regards him as an equal human being. Frank seeks Elsa’s love and company as she too loathes being reduced to a victim, an object of pity. Frank thereafter uses humour to joke of his wounds; “we Jews have to be on the lookout”. Elsa sees “a look in his eyes that she recognised”, thus their bond enables both characters to heal. London alludes that Frank requires love and recognition not from the perspective of a sorrowful onlooker, rather he longs to be recognised as a mature adult.

To learn more about using the right vocabulary, read 'Why using big words in VCE essays can make you look dumber'.

The conclusion: closing the deal

I firmly believe in short and sharp conclusions. Your body paragraphs should be thoroughly explaining your paragraphs, so don’t include any new information here. A few sentences is enough. Once again, write what feels natural, and what flows well.

Don’t drag out your conclusion. Short and concise is the key to finishing well.

Do write a sharp finish! Sentence starters such as, “Ultimately…” or “Thus, London…” are great.

Although trauma is often treated with love and compassion, London details different perspectives on this idea. Whilst Frank Gold requires a specific kind of recognition, Ida and Meyer seek validation in themselves and their relationship, whilst Sullivan is at ease with his fate and does not yearn sympathy from his father.

‍ To learn more about A+ essays, you should also have a read of 10 easy English points you're missing out on .

I'll finish off by giving you an exercise: brainstorm and write up a plan for the essay topic shown in the video below. I'd recommend you do this before watching Lisa's brainstorm and plan. That way, you can see which of your ideas overlapped, but also potentially see which ideas you may have missed out on. Good luck!

Don't forget to also check out Our Ultimate Guide to Oral Presentations for everything you need to know for Oral Presentations.

Since September 2014, the current affairs has been raging with numerous controversial topics – perfect for your oral presentation! Here are some of the more interesting issues that would be a good starting point for your oral. Remember to offer an interesting and unique argument, even if it may mean adopting the unconventional or unpopular point of view on the issue!

  • Should medicinal cannabis be legalised in Australia?
  • Should US anti-vaccination campaigner Sherri Tenpenny be allowed to give talks in Australia?
  • Should children be vaccinated?
  • Should ‘pick-up artist’ Julien Blanc have been banned from visiting Australia?
  • Is social media negatively impacting on student studies?
  • Should women be allowed to breastfeed in public?
  • Should we have more stringent surrogacy laws?
  • Should music be free?
  • Freezing women’s eggs
  • Sexualisation of women in the media
  • The media’s portrayal of ‘terrorism’
  • Islamophobia
  • Freedom of speech (Charlie Hebdo)
  • Doctor co-payments
  • Gender equality
  • University deregulation
  • Creativity in schools
  • Should children be allowed to roam unsupervised by their parents?
  • Should VCE English be compulsory?
  • See  Oral Presentation Issues in 2014  for other ongoing issues

1. What is an Oral Presentation? 2. What are you expected to cover? (Oral Presentation Criteria) 3. Choosing your Topic 4. Choosing your Contention 5. Writing your Speech 6. Presenting your Speech 7. Writing the Written Explanation 8. Resources to help you prepare for your Oral Presentation

What is an Oral Presentation?

For many VCE English students, the oral presentation is the scariest part of the course; it’s often also the first.

Doing a speech can indeed be daunting— you’re marked in real time, you can’t go back and edit mistakes, and the writing part itself is only half the battle. Nonetheless, the Oral SAC can also be one of the more dynamic and engaging tasks you complete in VCE English, and there’s plenty of ways to make it more interesting and also more manageable for yourself.

Keep reading for a comprehensive overview of what you need to know to succeed in your Oral Presentation. We’ve got you covered- from choosing your topic and contention, to writing and presenting your Speech.

We’ll also be suggesting useful resources, Study Guides and YouTube videos that will provide more detailed information and give you more confidence. Let’s get into it!

What are you expected to cover in an Oral Presentation? (Oral Presentation Rubric)

1. Your Oral Presentation SAC has two components. The first is the Oral Presentation itself (“a point of view presented in oral form”), and the second is a Written Explanation, also known as a Statement of Intention.

2. Your selected topic needs to be an issue that has appeared in the media since 1 September of the previous year

3. Your aim for this entire Oral Presentation SAC is to persuade your audience to agree with your contention (whatever that may be) based off the issue you’ve selected.

Here’s the raw version of VCAA’s expectations from you, taken from the VCAA website :

the crucible essay titles

How to choose your Oral Presentation topic

1. select a topic that has appeared in the media since 1 september of the previous year.

This can be time consuming and tricky, especially if you want to choose something a bit more original or fresh.

Firstly, you need an event.  An event in the VCE English context is anything that happens which also generates opinionated media coverage—so, it’s not just an event but it has to be an event that people have published opinions about, and they have to have been published since September 1.

You might wonder why we don’t go to the issue straight away. Here’s a hypothetical to illustrate: if you asked me to name an issue, the best I could probably come up with off the top of my head is climate change. However, if you asked me to name an event, I’d pretty easily recall the Australian bushfires—something much more concrete which a) has generated specific and passionate opinions in the media; and b) can easily be linked to a wider issue such as climate change.

The ABC news archive is also really helpful for finding events since you can pick dates or periods of time and see a good mix of news events from then. Otherwise, Wikipedia has helpful pages of  events that happened in specific years in specific countries, so “2023 in Australia” might well be a starting point. 

When you have your event, you can then look for an issue. This will be a specific debate that comes out of the event, and can usually be framed as a “whether-or-not” question. The bushfires, for example, might generate debate around whether or not the Australian government is doing enough to combat climate change, whether or not Scott Morrison has fulfilled his duties as Prime Minister.

Most importantly, choose an issue from an event that’s interesting and important to you. After all, you’re going to be spending the time researching, writing and presenting!

2. Filter out the boring events/issues

Understand who your audience is.

Once you know who your audience is, ask yourself: Does this event and issue relate to my audience?

This question matters because “your aim of this entire Oral Presentation SAC is to persuade your audience to agree with your contention (whatever that may be) based off the issue you’ve selected.” This means that what you say to your audience and how they respond to your speech matters.

Even if your assessor isn’t counting exactly how many people are still listening to your speech at the end, everyone knows a powerful speech when they’re in the presence of one - it hooks the audience from start to end - and an assessor, consciously or subconsciously, cannot deny that the collective attentiveness of the room has an influence on their marking of your Oral Presentation.

That’s why you should choose a topic that your audience can relate to. Also, avoid topics that have too many unfamiliar words, because as soon as there’s something they don’t understand, it becomes much harder for them to follow your speech.

Now you may be asking yourself; what is the best topic for oral presentation?

Here are some example topics from previous years to give you inspiration:

VCE English Oral Presentation Topics 2014

VCE English Oral Presentation Topics 2015

VCE English Oral Presentation Topics 2016

VCE English Oral Presentation Topics 2017

VCE English Oral Presentation Topics 2018

VCE English Oral Presentation Topics 2019

VCE English Oral Presentation Topics 2020

VCE English Oral Presentation Topics 2021

VCE English Oral Presentation Topics 2022

VCE English Oral Presentation Topics 2023

For more detailed information on choosing a topic, read my blog Choosing a WOW topic for your VCE Oral Presentation ‍

How to choose your oral presentation contention

Once you've chosen an interesting topic and have researched all of its different viewpoints, it's time to formulate your contention.

Often, creating a killer contention is about avoiding some common traps that will make your overall presentation boring, bland and just like the rest of your cohorts'.

So, there are three things I like to AVOID:

1. Broad, Overarching statements

2. A Contention That Is Just Plain Obvious

3. Avoid A Contention That Is Generally Accepted As True In Today’s Age

For more information on writing a contention, read my blog Creating a Killer Contention for your Oral Presentation ‍

How to write your speech 

1. Have a CAPTIVATING introduction sentence; use a short, clear and powerful sentence.

2. RELATE to your audience so that it keeps them interested so they actually WANT to listen.

3. If you are taking on a persona, firstly study and UNDERSTAND your character.

4. Don’t forget your persuasive techniques. I usually use repetition in conjunction with the ‘rule of three’.

5. Remember that you are writing a SPEECH, not an essay. Instil your oral with emotion, varied tone and sentence lengths.

In fact, I've talked about a few of these in a 'Must Dos and Don'ts' video. If you haven't seen it yet, watch below before you read on.

4 tips on presenting your Speech

1. Body Language

Confidence is key. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and, more importantly don’t move your legs. Especially if you’re nervous, swaying or shuffling will be noticeable and make you appear more nervous—when you practise, pay attention to the lower half of your body and train it to stay still if possible.

That being said, do use your arms for gestures. Those are more natural and will help engage the audience, though don’t overdo it either—usually, holding cue cards in one hand frees up the other but also stops you from going overboard.

2. Eye contact

Cue cards brings up another important consideration- eye contact. Hold cue cards in one hand as high as you can without it feeling uncomfortable. This means you don’t have to take your eyes away from the audience for too long or too noticeably to check your notes.

Eye contact increases your engagement with the audience. It also gives the impression of confidence and that you’ve been practicing and know your speech inside and out!

3. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

In a best case scenario, you won’t need to rely on your cue cards as you will have your speech basically memorised! Read your speech aloud and pretend that you’re actually delivering your speech. This means:

- Looking up ahead

- Holding the cue cards in the right spot; and

- Not just reading the words, but speaking as if to an audience

 It’s extremely helpful to also practice your speech to an actual audience! Practice in front of your family and friends. An alternative is to put a sticker next to your camera and record yourself. The sticker will help indicate where you should create eye contact. Look back at the video and give yourself some feedback, you might be surprised at your presentation!

4. Tone variation

Tone variation involves emphasising certain words, using pauses or slowing down for effect, or modifying volume. Incorporating some of these elements- even writing them into your notes by bolding/italicising/underlining will help you break out of monotony and make the speech more engaging.

Be sure to emphasise emotive language and any evidence you might use to illustrate your arguments. Most importantly, don’t speak too quickly!

5 things to keep in mind while writing the written explanation

For oral presentation based written explanations, the VCAA study design requests students write...

"A written statement of intention to accompany the student’s own oral presentation, articulating the intention of decisions made in the planning process, and how these demonstrate understanding of argument and persuasive language."

Using the topic, 'Why we need to stop crying 'cultural appropriation' when cultural exchange is far more important, ‘let’s see how this can be done with FLAPC with some examples below:

2. Language

3. Audience

For more information on writing a Written Explanation and a sample FLAPC compiled and rearranged for flow and fluency, read my blog How to Write a Stellar Written Explanation (Statement of Intention) .

Resources to help you prepare for your Oral Presentation

Doing this study all by yourself can be rather daunting, so we've got your back. We specialise in supporting VCE English by creating helpful videos, study guides and eBooks. Here are some just to get your started:

the crucible essay titles

‍ A Three Part Guide to Nailing Your Oral Presentation

Advice for A+ Oral Presentations

How I Got A+ in My Oral Presentation | Live QnA With Lisa Tran

How To 'Overcome' Your Fear of Public Speaking

Oral Presentations | How To Do Speeches

5 Common Oral Presentation Mistakes

Our How to Write a Killer Oral Presentation Study Guide has all the information you need to succeed in your Oral Presentations. Sample A+ essays and written explanations are also included!

Passage 1: Act 1 Scene 3

   [Aside] Two truths are told,

   As happy prologues to the swelling act

   Of the imperial theme.--I thank you, gentlemen.

[Aside] This supernatural soliciting

   Cannot be ill, cannot be good: if ill,

   Why hath it given me earnest of success,

   Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor:

   If good, why do I yield to that suggestion

   Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair

   And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,

   Against the use of nature? Present fears

   Are less than horrible imaginings:

   My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,  

   Shakes so my single state of man that function

   Is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is

   But what is not.

Passage One from Act 1 Scene 3 takes place just after Macbeth has just been announced as Thane of Cawdor proving part of the Witches’ prophecy true “All hail Macbeth…Thane of Cawdor…/that shalt be king hereafter.” This part of the play is the first insight we have on Macbeth’s inner thoughts.  

Macbeth’s firm and thoughtful tone in the opening alliteration “two truths are told ” stresses how serious he takes the Witches’ predictions. Shakespeare presents this passage as a soliloquy in order to convey Macbeth’s true inner thoughts and motives. As this is Macbeth’s first soliloquy, it emphasises the strong possibility of Macbeth heading down a dark journey as he cannot forget the Witches’ predictions “(it) cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, / Why hath it given me earnest of success, Commencing in a truth?”

Shakespeare uses the metaphor of theatre for fate . The meta-theatrical reference, ‘as happy prologues to the swelling act’ makes the audience consider the action that will unfold in the following scenes through foreshadowing.

Macbeth feels that committing regicide will be a “supernatural soliciting”. The word “supernatural” demonstrates that Macbeth acknowledges that such an act is “against the use of nature.” It suggests that if Macbeth kills Duncan, he will forever be trapped in the supernatural world for his dishonourable action. The alliteration of “supernatural soliciting” sounds incredibly seductive, and therefore highlights Macbeth’s lust and thirst for the crown.

There is a physiological response to his unnerving thoughts as the ‘horrid image doth unfix my hair’ and ‘my seated heart knock at my ribs’ , emphasising the horror of Macbeth has with himself  at his thoughts.

The personification “my seated heart knock at my ribs” once again depicts the increasing fear that Macbeth experiences as his heart is not “seated” with its connotations of calmness and steadiness but “knock(ing)” which is associated with alarming fear.

As Macbeth struggles with his conscience and fears “my thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,/ Shakes so my single state of man,”  he is uncertain whether or not he should take the prophecy into his own hands and murder Duncan or, let time decide his fate “time and the hour runs through the roughest day”. The consonance ’s’, Shakes so my single state of man”.. ‍

The alliteration “smothered in surmise” demonstrates how Macbeth’s vivid imagination causes him to struggle with fear and hesitate undergoing the action that is foreseen by him as a “horrid image.” These mental images are of significance throughout the play as it is evident that Macbeth’ conscience results in him “seeing” a dagger and also Banquo’s ghost.

The antithesis “and nothing is,/ But what is not” is deliberately broken up into two lines to demonstrate the ambiguity of Macbeth’s thoughts and the confusion which evidently contributes to his overall fear. Macbeth’s actions become overpowered by his imagination until ‘nothing is but what is not’ or imagination carries more weight than action. The partial alliteration of ‘smother’d in surmise’ and the antithesis of ‘nothing is but what is not’ makes this notion seem again, particularly seductive to the audience. The word ‘smother’d’ , with it’s connotations of oppression, further amplifies the notion and even suggests that Macbeth’s imagination takes the place of his will.

Whether you consider yourself a Frankenstein expert, or someone who is a bit taken back by the density of the novel and Shelley’s writing, do not fret! Below I will outline 3 tips which, will hopefully give you a clearer perspective on how to approach writing on Frankenstein! Let’s get started!


Since the book was set during the Age of Enlightenment and the Romantic era, Shelley essentially used Frankenstein as a vessel to criticise and warn readers against many of the values upheld during her era. It’s therefore crucial that you address this!

The late 18th century and the first decades of the 19th century were exciting times for science and exploration. Shelley’s two main protagonists, Walton and Frankenstein, both passionately sough to discover what had previously been hidden. Walton wanted to be the first to find a passage through the Arctic Circle; Frankenstein wanted to be the first to create manmade life, to uncover the mysteries of Nature.  Both men claimed to be desirous of benefitting humankind but both wanted glory more. This obsession to win accolades for their discoveries will destroy Victor, and turn Walton for a while into a hard taskmaster over his crew.

Juxtaposed against these two characters is Henry Clerval. Clerval, too, has an inquiring mind but he also cares about humanity, family and friends. He represents the balanced human being who is sociable, compassionate, intelligent and loyal to his friends. Victor’s ability to reanimate the dead, to bring to life his gigantic Creature using the newly discovered electricity, makes him a genius but also a monster. In his inexperience he botches the work producing a hideous and terrifying creature with, ironically, initially all the virtues of the ideal man of he world. Repulsed by his amateurish handiwork, Victor abandons his creation, setting in place the vengeance that will unfold later.

Try to ground any response to Shelley’s text in the enormous enthusiasm for new discoveries and new geographic phenomena that attracted lavish praise for those who went where others feared to tread. It was this praise that drove Walton and Frankenstein to exceed reasonable expectations becoming reckless and careless of the consequences of their actions.


Walton, Frankenstein and the Creature are interconnected in so many ways – whether it be their isolation, ambition, desire for companionship, desire for vengeance or the Romantic values they share. I’ve also noted that it is also really easy to connect themes in Frankenstein as the tragic story-arc of the novel is built upon many different causes. What I mean by this is that there is a clearly define relationship between isolation, ambition and vengeance (and ultimately tragedy) in the sense that isolation is what led to the brewing of unchecked ambition which essentially causes the resultant tragedy.

Take Frankenstein for example: having left his loving family and friends, who provided him with love and companionship for Ingolstadt, there was no one to hold him back from his natural tendencies towards unchecked ambitions, leading him to creating the monster who out of spite towards society kills all of Frankenstein’s loved ones, leading them towards the desire for mutual destruction. Being able to see these links and draw them together will not only add depth to your writing but it also arms you with the ability to be able to deal with a wider array of prompts.


While Walton, Frankenstein and the Creature can be discussed incredibly thoroughly (and by all means go ahead and do it), but it is also very important to consider the novel as a whole and talk about, if not more thoroughly, on the minor characters. While characters such as the De Laceys, villagers and the rustic in the forest can be used to highlight the injustices brought upon the creature and people’s natural instincts of self preservation and prejudice, innocent characters such as Elizabeth and Justine can be used to emphasise the injustice of society and the consequences of unchecked ambition and isolation.

Henry Clerval (like previously mentioned) can be contrasted against Walton and his best friend Frankenstein to show that as long as we have a balanced lifestyle and companionship, ambition will not lead us to ruin. Characters such as the Turkish merchant can also have parallels drawn with Frankenstein in telling how our selfish desire and actions, born out of inconsideration for their consequences, can backfire with great intensity. Lastly the character of Safie (someone I used a lot in my discussions) can be compared and contrasted with the Creature to show the different treatment they receive despite both being “outsiders” to the De Laceys due to their starkly different appearances.

Mentioning these characters and utilising these contrasts can be monumental in showing your understanding of the novel and by extension, your English analytical ability.

‍ Hey guys, I'm Lisa, welcome back to Lisa's Study Guides. Today, we're going to be talking about Frankenstein and breaking down an essay topic for it. So in the past, I've done plenty of videos looking at different types of essay topics and breaking them down by looking at keywords and then going into the body paragraphs and looking at those ideas. This time round, the takeaway message that I want you to leave with is understanding what types of evidence you should be using inside your body paragraphs. Specifically, I wanted to talk about literary devices or metalanguage. Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein uses so many literary devices that it's impossible to ignore. If you are somebody who is studying this text or other texts that you use and are heavily embedded with literary techniques, then it's really important that you don't just use dialogue as part of your quotes, but actually reading between the lines. I'll teach you on how it's not just about finding dialogue, which you include as quotes inside your body paragraphs, but reading between the lines, so looking at literary devices like metaphors, symbols, imagery, so let's get started. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein constitutes escaping critique of the prioritization of scientific advancement over human welfare and relationship. Dr. Frankenstein is fascinated with science and discovery, he is consumed with the idea of a new and more noble race by stitching up dead body parts from a cemetery. He feverishly works away at his experiment until one day the creature is born. Frankenstein is horrified at the living thing he has made and completely rejects the creature, leaving it without a parental figure. The creature is left alone to look after himself. He educates himself and on repeated occasions tries to approach people in society, however, is rejected every time because of his monstrous appearance. As a result, the creature becomes enraged at humanity and Frankenstein's unfair treatment towards him and consequently exacts revenge on Frankenstein and his family. The essay topic we'll be looking at today is, Our sympathies in this novel ultimately lie with the creature. Discuss. So in previous videos, we've looked at keywords, how to identify them and how to define them. Since it's pretty straightforward for this essay topic, I thought I would skip that part and then go into the more nitty gritty with the body paragraphs. But, if you are unfamiliar with these steps, then I'll link them in the card above and also in the description below so you can have a look at how I went ahead and did the keyword section in my planning, now back to the prompt. Unequivocally within Frankenstein, Shelley portrays sympathy as spread throughout the text through depicting the creature as innately human through his desire for relationship and the challenges he faces at the hands of the prejudice enlightenment society he's born into, Shelley elicits sympathy for his situation. However, through the notable absence of the female gender throughout the text, Shelley portrays those silent within society as most deserving of sympathy. So, with this in mind, here are the potential paragraphs in response to this prompt. Paragraph one, Shelley's depiction of the creature as innately human motivates support for his challenges at the hands of a prejudice society. The action of the creature to open his dull yellow eye, symbolic of his nature as a human being alongside a green wrinkled on his cheeks, with one hand stretched out, indicates his simple desire for paternal connection. Through constructing the creature's actions as innately human Shelley acts proleptically of the inequitable experiences the creature will experience throughout the structural architecture of the text. And through doing so, depicts his character as worthy of support. Similarly, through the metaphor of fire, Shelley explores the duality of progress and innovation of which the creature desires. The fire, one that gives light as well as heat, yet also causes a cry of pain, indicates the hardships of the creature in his isolation, whereby, his forced to withdraw from his desire for education. Upon viewing himself in a pool, the creature becomes "fully convinced that I was in reality [a] monster" with the consequent sensations of despondency and mortification granting the reader the opportunity to sympathize with the creature in order to indicate the intensely negative social prejudices that are inflicted upon the creature. So you can see that we've looked at symbols of the creature's nature and the metaphor of fire to support our topic sentence. Using literary techniques is what's going to make the difference between you and another student who might be saying the same thing. Why? Because when you look at literary devices, it means that you're reading just beyond the lines, just beyond what's in front of you. You're now introducing your own interpretation, so you're looking at fire and thinking about what that means in connection to the text, and why Mary Shelley would use the term of a fire and revolve her discussion around that. So let's see how we keep doing this in the next body paragraph. Paragraph two, Shelley indicates the significance of relationships as a key element of human nature that the creature is denied, motivating affinity from readers. In replacement of human relationships, the creature rather seeks comfort within the natural world. The metaphorical huge cloak that the creature takes refuge within indicates this, illustrative of an ecosystem, the forest allows the creator to surround himself with life. The subsequent attempts to "imitate the pleasant songs of the birds" reveals the desperate urge of the creature for companionship as he is abandoned by the paternal relationship represented by Victor Frankenstein, which forms a core of human relationships. Again, here we've discussed the metaphorical huge cloak and its connection with the forest, I strongly encourage you to have the goal of discussing at least one literary device per body paragraph. And no, there is no such thing as talking about too many literary devices because it's really just about whether or not your argument is concise and whether or not you're backing that up with evidence. Paragraph three. However, it is Shelley's depiction of the submissive female sex within Frankenstein that becomes most deserving of sympathy. Each female character is characterized as passive, disposable, and they're serving a utilitarian function, namely as a channel of action for the male characters within the text. Notably, the complete lack of absence of Margaret Saville, functioning only as an audience for Walton's letters exemplifies this. Margaret's role within the text is simply to enable Walton to relay the story of Frankenstein and as such were the most necessary character of the texts whilst the most distant. This ironic dichotomy enables Shelley to exemplify the difficult role of the female within society, arising sympathy from the readership. Here, even the purposeful emission of a character is discussed as a language technique. So, this type of literary device definitely tops the cake because you're literally looking at what's not even there. That's definitely reading between the lines. Frankenstein is a very complex novel, and sometimes that's what makes it a difficult text to study. But, it lends itself to many unique interpretations and it's heavily dressed with heaps of literary devices or metalanguage, however you want to call it. So, that's what makes it an absolutely fantastic text for high school students to study. If you wanted to find out more on how to nail a Frankenstein essay, then I'll link you to my blog just down below, because there are definitely more tips there to help you excel in this particular text. Thank you so much for watching, and especially even if you're not studying this text, I hope you've been able to take something away from this video. And I'm confident that you have because talking about literary devices is definitely a topic that isn't necessarily the fore front of discussion in classrooms, and it's something that a lot of people struggle with. So, I hope you are able to walk away with a new goal in sight in order to improve your English essays. So, I will see you guys next time, thank you so much for joining me, see you guys soon. Bye!

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  1. Literature: Essay on 'The Crucible'

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