This GCSE English Literature quiz takes a look at themes in The Crucible by Arthur Miller. All works of literature have multiple themes, ranging from the very subtle to the obvious. Individual themes are rarely, if ever, presented in isolation, but instead interact with and comment upon other key themes in the same text. Authors develop the themes of their texts through the use of setting, character, plot and dialogue. Consider the related ideas and concepts in the text, making an effort to follow the development of the different themes. See if you can notice any change of opinion as you read a text by comparing your final thoughts with those you held as you began reading. Have your opinions on any of the issues changed? If they have, can you explain why? Is it possible to pinpoint the part in the text where your views on a key theme began to change?
The title of The Crucible is very interesting. A crucible is an object in which metal can be melted over an extremely hot fire. In Biblical imagery, the crucible is where the faithful are tested by God. Can you think how various characters are tested? Who passes the test? Miller wrote the play at a time when similar issues were having an impact on life in the United States and when people were being threatened and exposed to similar pressures as the characters in the play. See if you can identify how the text asks you to respond to the various themes. Are you meant to change or challenge yourself? If so, how?
The Crucible deals with a shameful episode in American history in which great numbers of people were tried, convicted and executed for the crime of witchcraft, always in the absence of real evidence. The themes of the play, accordingly, include innocence, guilt, judgement, sin, truth and lies, the nature of authority, loyalty and many others. Each character relates to these themes in a different way and when the characters interact in their rigid, theocratic environment, the outcome is fixed.
Read the questions below and test your knowledge of the themes of The Crucible.