The Calm of the Crucible Imagine

Imagine this: you’re walking down the street on Halloween and you see tons of people dressed up as witches. If we lied during the Salem Witch Trials, those people would’ve gotten arrested. Ironic, right? Speaking of irony, the Crucible has a great amount of irony presented. Irony is the use of words to express something of the opposite literal meaning. The Crucible uses many scenes to emphasize irony. The Crucible play takes place in Salem, Massachusetts in the 17th century and is based on a true event.

As the play begins, the audience learns that there is a group of girls dancing in the woods supposedly conjuring spirits which led to the accusations of the girls as witches. In order to escape punishment, they accuse other women in their town being witches.

This leads to the trials of women and men being charged, executed, and exiled of being witches. Arthur Miller uses examples of irony to help the audience obtain a further understanding of the play, particularly Giles Corey, John Proctor, and Abigail Williams.

The first reason Miller uses irony is in act four with Giles Corey. Corey was a very talkative man yet at the face of death, he only uttered two words, “more weight.” In the crucible, Elizabeth states, “great stones they lay upon his chest until he plead aye or nay. With a tender smile for the old man: They say he give them but two words. “More weight,” he says. And died.

This is ironic because even though Corey was chatty, he was almost speechless when being pressed by stones.

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The reader might assume that he wanted to be a righteous man so if he pleaded guilty, he would ruin his reputation, so he demands more weight. Shmoop University indicated, “Even though he is brutally tortured by having crushingly heavy stones place on his chest, the only thing Giles says is “More weight.” Giles asked for more weight for two reasons. First, he knew that the adding of more weight would end his suffering faster. Second, he was showing the officials that his spirit would not be broken. Corey was trying to be a moral man but meanwhile, John Proctor was doing quite the opposite.

Another reason Miller uses irony is in act two when John is asked to recite the ten commandments but ironically forgets one. In the Crucible it says, “Hale, glances at her open face, then at John, then: Let you re-peat them, if you will. Proctor: The Commandments. Hale: Aye. Proctor, looking off, beginning to sweat: Thou shalt not kill. Proctor, counting on his angers: Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods, nor make unto thee any graven image. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain; thou shalt have no other gods before me. With some hesitation: Thou shalt remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. Pause. Then: Thou shalt honor thy father and mother. Thou shalt not bear false witness. He is stuck. He counts back on his fingers, knowing one is missing. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.

Hale: You have said that twice, sir. Proctor, lost: Aye. He is failing for it. Elizabeth, delicately: Adultery, John.”  Elizabeth knows that John committed adultery, so this moment in the play makes Proctor very insecure. His lack of knowledge in the faith and his lack of church attendance and the fact that he has openly condemned the pastor of the church, put him in a suspicious light. ENotes states, “It is ironic because he has committed adultery, with Abigail Williams.”  John should know this commandment by heart and better than the other nine. It is also ironic since the reader would expect him to know it. It should be the first commandment that he says but he can’t seem to remember it. Proctors failure to remember the last commandment relates to his affair with Abigail Williams.

Finally, the last reason Miller uses irony is when Abigail lies about committing witchcraft in the woods the whole year that the witch trials lasted. In the Crucible Abigail shows a lot of hypocrisy and irony such as, “Oh, Mary, this is a black art to change your shape. No, I cannot, I cannot stop my mouth; It’s God’s work I do.” (Miller 115) and “My name is good in the village! I will not have it said my name is soiled! Goody Proctor is a gossiping liar!”  This is an example of irony because Abigail always says she is doing God’s work when she is doing the devil’s work by forcing the other girls to lie to everyone about the presence of witchcraft in the town. This is also ironic because she is a liar even though she repeats it throughout the play.

Shmoop University states, “It’s ironic that the Abigail, who encouraged the witchcraft in the first place, is the one who goes around accusing everybody else. As ringleader, she excites the other girls into a frenzy of emotion, which allows them to condemn as witches the people they know and love.”  Regardless, Abigail encouraged the witch trials and accused people of witches just to be with John, even though he dies in the end, it’s ironic since that was the reason the witch trials even started, was because Abigail drank chicken blood and wished to kill Elizabeth Proctor to have John to herself even though it made Elizabeth’s and John’s relationship stronger.

Abigail is used many times in the play to show and better understand the irony. In conclusion, Arthur Miller effectively uses literary devices such as irony in the play The Crucible. He uses irony to emphasize certain scenes and characters in the play. These scenes and characters only touch the tip of what really happened in Salem Massachusetts and some witch hunts still going on today and also causes its audience to see the Salem Witch Trials in a different light.

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The Calm of the Crucible Imagine. (2019, Dec 15). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/the-calm-of-the-crucible-imagine/

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