The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, is a play based on the events that took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. The play is based on the real-life witch trials that happened there, and the prosecution of innocent people brought upon by hysteria. The title of the play being The Crucible, the term "crucible" is never actually mentioned. The word crucible, in simplest terms, means "a trial." Although the play is based around a series of court-trials, Miller chose it as the title to mean a severe test, as of patience or belief; a trial within oneself. Many of the characters in The Crucible face difficult decisions, or crucibles, piecing together the story.
The first crucible to take place is concerning John Proctor, the protagonist of the play. John has brought Mary Warren, his servant, to the court to admit that all the accusations of witchcraft have been pretense. John is accused of trying to overthrow the court but he says his only interest is in freeing his wife. Danforth then tells him that Elizabeth, his wife, is pregnant and she will now have another year. Proctor is asked to drop the charge, since his only purpose was to save Elizabeth and not to oppose the court. At this point John must make a crucial decision, to drop the charges, or to help his friends whose wives are doomed. By dropping the charges, he can leave the court with no further problems, and know that Elizabeth still has another year until she is put to trial. On the other hand, he knows that he cannot betray his friends just because he has accomplished what he wanted and they haven't. "These are my friends. Their wives are also accused- I come not to hurt the court-" (1088) John says, refusing to drop the charges and submits a petition to the court signed by ninety-one people declaring their good opinion of Rebecca Nurse, Elizabeth Proctor, and Martha Corey. He chooses helping his good friends over his personal benefit.