The play occurs during the seventeenth and eighteenth century Salem Witch
trials and involves the Puritan beliefs and religion. They were very religious.
They felt that people could form compacts with the devil. The devil would
do actions for them in this life and then when they died he would have their
souls. They believed in witches and felt that they could cast spells on people.
The Puritans believed that there were certain signs of a witch.
There is a feud between the Putnam and the Nurse families. They are both
wealthy land owners and the Nurses are very respected in town. These families
each supported a different minister. The Nurses supported Reverend Parris.
The Proctors preferred to worship in their own house. They felt that the
church under Reverend Parris was becoming too materialistic and drifted away
from the purpose of the church. Rebecca Nurse was the midwife to the Putnams,
she aided the delivery of the babies. Mrs. Putnam had eight children, seven
of which died, and the Putnams felt that Mrs. Nurse had put a curse on the
children when they died.
The Crucible is set against the backdrop of the mad witch hunts of the Salem
witch trials in the late 17th century. It is about a town, after accusations
from a few girls, which begins a mad hunt for witches that did not exist.
Many townspeople were hanged on charges of witchcraft. Miller brings out the
absurdity of the incident with the theme of truth and righteousness. The theme
is conveyed through the struggles of Millers main character, John Proctor.