A "crucible" is defined as a metal container used for melting and purifying substances at high temperature or a place or occasion of severe test or trial. The definitions of the word refer to the critical themes of Arthur Miller's play The Crucible. The play depicts the witch trials, sparked by the lies and hysteria of the God-fearing Puritans, in the village of Salem. Their sanity and fear bring the entire community to a melting point, where they are caught up in the deceit and paranoia, and put it through a severe test during the trials. In Act IV of the play, Arthur Miller reveals the absurdness of conformity and value of self-worth when John Proctor, the protagonist of the play, abandons his obsession with maintaining his reputation and believes in his integrity.
The corruption of the Puritan society exhibits the absurdity of the witch trials when John Proctor realizes that the judges only need his confession for their own benefit rather than cleansing his soul of guilt. The judge's treatment of John Proctor and their pressure on him to make a confession reveal the corruption of the society. The judges demand Proctor to sign a confession to "prove its whiteness or [he] cannot live in a Christian country" (141). According to them, the only way to prove his innocence and save his life is to accuse other people of witchcraft, which ultimately leads many people to death. It displays the selfishness of the judges, who are only concerned about maintaining their respective reputation by forcing other people to blame each other. When Proctor chooses to confess in order to save his own life, Danforth tells him that he "shall be blessed in Heaven for this" (138). This is ironic because he cannot be blessed for making a false confession; it is just a pretense for him "that will not blind God" (136). Since God knows that the confession is fake, he will not bless Proctor.