The Power of Your Beliefs (The Crucible by Arthur Miller Book Review)



A person's belief system can impact the choices they make. It can result in negative consequences or positive outcomes. The Crucible, a play written by Arthur Miller, tells the story of the Salem witch trials. The Puritan community of Salem holds a strong belief in the 10 commandments and keeps one another accountable for breaking the religious code, including committing adultery and involvement in witchcraft. The audience listens to the accusations made by people in the town and watches as Puritans of Salem are put on trial and majority of the time hanged for a crime they didn’t commit. It becomes apparent through Arthur Miller's use of mood and conflict that he is trying to show how a person's choices can have consequences.

Miller uses the character John Proctor to shock the audience by his choice against the Ten Commandments, ultimately resulting in several lasting consequences. In the court trial John Proctor confesses, “God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a whore’s vengeance, and you must see it; I set myself entirely in your hands, I know you must see it now” (Miller 3.23). After confessing to his sin in court, John Proctor stunned the audience and caused them to second guess how much of a dedicated Puritan he really is. John had previously set the example for other people of Salem with his good choices and doing what he was supposed to. However, now that the town and audience knows of his sins, that reputation of a good citizen is tarnished, as well as his marriage being hurt. By making the choices that he did, John sacrificed his social standing and good character. 

The author uses conflict between Elizabeth and Abigail to show how actions have consequences. Claiming to Judge Danforth, Elizabeth says, “She—dissatisfied me. Pause. And my husband” (Miller 3.24). Due to Abigail's decision to have an affair with John, she lost her job and also ruined her reputation. Furthermore, she committed the sin of adultery going against the Ten Commandments. Elizabeth knew what was going on and had the power to enforce the consequences on her. Even though Abigail may not have thought about it right away, she later realized the actions she took would have a large effect on her life.

Lastly, Miller uses Giles Corey as an example of choices having consequences. The court conflicts with Giles as he is questioned about witchcraft. Elizabeth Proctor shares with Judge Danforth,  “Great stones lay upon his chest until he pleaded aye or nay” (Miller 4.11). In many cases, if citizens confessed, they could just be sent to jail instead of killed. Giles could have confessed or tried accusing somebody else, however,  Giles decided he wouldn't answer the accusations of witchcraft and that it was better to remain silent. As a result of that decision, he died by being pressed with stones.  

The choices that people make can quickly change their life, even though they may not see it coming. Although many characters in The Crucible made life altering choices, many of them didn't realize the consequences until later on. They thought secrets could be kept and reputations would be protected, but under a court, the truth came out. In the end, the consequences were paid and even the ultimate penalty of death was reached.