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hey..taking online course on essay writing but since there is no real teacher who can proofread it (and since English is my second language), need your help..thanks

Fire as a symbol in The Crucible

Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in response to people’s vicious behavior in America during the Red Scare and fight against communism. Communism accusations spread quickly, and people turned against one another. This correlates to a similar relationship that takes place between characters as the plot progresses in The Crucible. The play’s characters accuse others for personal gain or the feeling of safety. Situations heat up while characters take sides, and under the court’s pressure, a character’s morality and true nature show. Arthur Miller uses fire and heat throughout the play to symbolize the devil’s presence and how evil spreads through Salem’s community and court system. 

The play begins with Betty Parris lying sick in bed with her father praying over her. Abigail, Betty’s cousin, explains that the girls were dancing in the woods. Parris exclaims to Abigail, “I saw Tituba waving her arms over the fire when I heard a screeching and gibberish coming from her mouth. She were swaying like a dumb beast over that fire!”. Parris knows that the girls were doing more than dancing when he caught them. Parris is troubled by the evil act of witchery that his daughter and niece took part in. The girls were conjuring the devil and evil spirits with Tituba around burning flames. The fire adds to the scene’s imagery and allows readers to envision the girls calling the devil around a raging fire. The young group of girls made this fire the center of their wicked game. The author has the fire symbolize wickedness and the conjuring of the devil. Fire and heat are repeatedly suggested throughout the play to be a sign of the devil and all things wicked. The girls use their wicked games to receive personal gain or revenge. 

In the court, Mary Warren, the Proctor’s household servant, confesses that the girls lied about their accusations. This comes as a surprise to Parris and Danforth. After this confession, Parris immediately denies the possibility that the girls have been pretending. Danforth responds to Parris saying, “Indeed not, but it strike hard upon me that she will dare come here with such a tale. Now, Mr. Proctor, before I decide whether I shall hear you or not, it is my duty to tell you this. We burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment”. This quote by Danforth explains a possibility of truth in Mary’s words. He warns Proctor that the court’s fire will burn all lies, so that truth remains. Fire in this quote is a symbol of the court’s immoral and corrupt behavior to get to the “truth.” Salem’s court has no concrete evidence, so they mostly believe what they choose to. The judges “melt” the statements of the accused and turns words against them. Dansforth’s purpose is to seek witches; therefore, the court burns away what it chooses and leaves the rest to persecute people charged of being a witch. This heat is especially evident in John Proctor’s hearing when he is accused of working with the devil. 

In the play, Proctor and other characters go through the grueling challenge of choosing between their life and their reputation. The judges question John Proctor at the witch trials, and he is accused of working with the devil by Mary Warren. After this accusation, John cries out that God is dead, and laughing insanely, he says, “A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For them that quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud - God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!”. Proctor speaks that the fire of injustice and greed is catching and spreading without end. This quote suggests that because Salem’s citizens are turning against their neighbor, the entire town will fall and burn together. Miller writes with the symbol of fire to represent the selfishness and greediness of Salem’s judges and how quickly it spreads. Abigail was the small spark that started The Crucible. Explained through the previous quote, the fire represents the wickedness that is clearing its way through the whole town, leaving Salem in ruins. 

The fire in The Crucible represents wicked and the devil’s presence in Salem. It is obvious that fire has a negative connotation in the play because of its connection with Hell. Salem reaches its boiling point when neighbors turn against one another to seek vengeance or feel powerful. Arthur relates the heated tensions and irate characters in the play to the devil’s evil catching like a fire and scorching all things pure. When there is no where for fire to spread, it soon stops and simmers down to ashes.


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