The dictionary describes the word crucible as a container in which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures, usually done in order to purify the metal. In the book ‘the crucible’ the people of Salem are purified through the Salem witch trials. Examples of people are John Proctor, Elizabeth – his wife and Hale. The main example of purification though is seen in John Proctor, starting as an unholy man, with lechery in his past and finishing by gaining final forgiveness from his wife.
Proctor had an affair with Abigail but having finishing it, she still pines after him, and she does in fact try to get him back. This can be seen in the beginning of the play. “Abigail: Give me a soft word John. A soft word. Proctor: No, no. Abby that’s done with. ” This shows how Proctor recognises the mistake he made in the past but that he is trying to rectify it, but Elizabeth doesn’t trust him again yet.
When Proctor returns having had this conversation with Abigail and talks to Elizabeth about when Abigail told him that Betty’s trance had nothing do with witchcraft, Elizabeth finds out they were alone in a room together and is very suspicious. “Proctor: Woman. I’ll not have your suspicion any more, Elizabeth: I have no -, Proctor: I’ll not have it, Elizabeth: Then let you earn it, Proctor: you doubt me yet? Elizabeth: John, if it where not Abigail that you must go to hurt, would you falter now?
I think not. ” Proctor is still not a character to be trusted, until the very end of the book, where he chooses death over betrayal showing through the fire of persecution he has become purified, like those metals placed in a crucible in a science laboratory. “Hale: Woman, plead with him! Woman! It is his pride, it is his vanity. Be his helper! – What profits him to bleed? Shall the dust praise him? Shall the worms declare his truth? Go to him, take his shame away!
” Elizabeth does not however, because she understands and she feels pride and love for this man with so much bravery. Proctor however is not killed only because of his pride, I think it is a final tribute to his wife to show he is noble and worthy man and not an adulterous and untrustworthy man. Although the situation he is in does not directly show this change, you can see it because unlike all the rest he does not denounce any other innocent people to get himself ‘off the hook.
‘ He died trying to stop Abigail, rather than simply joining her side or even standing by, this shows to Elizabeth how he loves her and no longer Abigail. After being condemned for witchcraft and confessing it in order not to hang, he refuses to sign his name to the confession, so he is executed. He doesn’t want to sign his name to the confession because he feels that if such a label taints his name his life is not worth living.
“Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! ” To say such things shows such a bravery and Elizabeth recognises this and all she can to but to take away his pride and courage is to let him go.