Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements / paper topics on “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller that can be used as essay starters. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in “The Crucible” and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements for “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller offer a short summary of different elements that could be important in an essay but you are free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the .
Need a Refresher? Click Here for a Detailed Act-by-Act Plot Summary of The CrucibleClick here for an analysis of how characters represent themes and thematic issues in The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #1: The Crucible as a Cautionary Tale
In the opening of Act One of “The Crucible”, Arthur Miller clearly establishes that this play is about the period in American history known as the Salem witch trials. Much has been made, however, out of the historical moment in which Arthur Miller wrote the play—the McCarthy era—and it has been argued that The Crucible was Miller’s attempt to come to terms with and understand contemporary social dynamics. If you agree that The Crucible is a cautionary tale, identify what it cautions the reader against, and how it suggests that society avert or prevent such a fate. State whether you agree that The Crucible is a timeless tale, or whether you think the relevance of The Crucible will fade over time.Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: Analysis of the Introduction to Act One of “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller
The genre of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” is, in a certain sense, a strict form that clearly delineates the role of the writer relative to the text. Miller challenges dramatic conventions somewhat by writing what might actually be considered a preface prior to the commencement of action in Act One. In this section, Arthur Miller situates “The Crucible” within its historical context, and he does not refrain from offering his own opinions about the Salem witch trials and their lasting social implications. This curious form of an introduction might, in fact, be the most important part of the play, for it explains the symbolic motivations that created the conditions that made the witch hunt possible, and, as Miller argues, such a witch hunt is not necessarily a relic of history. Write an essay in which you offer a thoughtful analysis of this introduction. Consider what meaning and insight it offers with respect to the larger narrative of this play, and consider how Miller’s motivations influence the reader’s interpretation of the play and its meaning.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Use of Fear Tactics in “The Crucible”
The play begins with rumors that the town has become plagued by witches of late, and soon this rumor generates a fear that spreads faster than wildfire. The fear escalates to such a dramatic degree that the dominant class must respond by quashing the supposed witches with extreme strategies: the trials and subsequent burnings of witches. Carefully examine how this fear escalates, identifying who the responsible parties are, what their stakes were, and what tactics they used to escalate concern in their community. Propose an argument and write an argumentative essay on “The Crucible” in which you state your belief about the inevitability of the witch-hunt, and explain how the fear tactics employed convinced otherwise rational people to believe very irrational ideas.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Power Dynamics in “The Crucible”
One of the important motifs worth examining in The Crucible is that of power: who has it, how they got it, how they use it, and for what ends. Select one or more characters (they can be powerful or powerless) and examine the ways in which the exercise their agency and authority or, in the case of someone powerless, struggle against their powerless position. Identify the role that certain institutions (including the courts and the church and religion) played in establishing and perpetuating the power dynamics that you have identified. Conclude with a statement about the use and abuse of power. Consider whether power could have been employed different for alternate outcomes and explain why different tactics were neither considered nor used.
Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #5 Tragedy in “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller
Plays are generally classified into one of two categories: tragedies or comedies. Each of these two categories possesses a particular set of conventions and characteristics that can be used to identify plays as either a tragedy or a comedy. On the surface, The Crucible appears to be a tragedy. Decide whether you agree with this classification of the play. If you do, identify the elements of the play that render it tragic. If you do not agree that The Crucible is a tragedy, or if you feel that it is a hybrid, then defend your position with evidence drawn directly from the text. For help with this, be sure to look at the , Death of a Salesman, for similar themes.
Click here for an analysis of how characters represent themes and thematic issues in The Crucible by Arthur Miller
One of the most important themes in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is the nature of authority and people who abuse it. In the story, authority is determined by the religious status one has in the community and often education plays a role. Nowadays, authority is noted by the place you have in society and is also based on education and sometimes wealth. It seems that whenever there is a figure of authority, there is always someone abusing the power designated to them.
Back in the Puritan times, religious leaders like reverends and people skilled in the teachings of the Bible were the authority figures; and even with attempting to do good by following the word of God like they were supposed to, there were many occurrences where they smuggled in some law or did something for the benefit of themselves because they dominated and felt like no one below them could rebel against that or else they would be punished. This happened so often because people feared authority and the thought of the punishment they would receive was horrible because everything was tolerated a lot less, so they did not rise up to correct these happenings. One example of the power of authority being abused in The Crucible, is the fact that Reverend Parris spends too much money on things that the church doesn’t need, for his own benefit.
It seems as though he is more preoccupied with getting things that are an advantage to himself and his name, than he is with his religion and God. An example of someone noticing this is when John Proctor says, “A minister may pray to God without he have golden candlesticks upon the altar sir, when I look to heaven and see my money glaring at Parris’s elbows- it hurt my prayer,” and then he goes on to say, “I like it not that Mr. Parris should lay his hand upon my baby. I see no light of God in that man. I’ll not conceal it.'” (Act 2, Scene 3 p., 856). He is speaking of not baptizing his children because he does not believe that Parris is a proper server of God.
Now, authority is everywhere, from the president, to the police, to people you respect like teachers and parents. You see the neglect of power even more nowadays than you did in the Puritan times, and they usually leave a larger impact. For example, in an article by Catherine Ford titled, ‘Give authority figures an inch… they’ll take a mile,’ she speaks of a high school in Canada where teachers were given the right by the Supreme Court of Canada to strip-search their students if they are thought to be breaking the rules of authority. Twenty freshman boys at Kingswell High School in Ontario were stripped searched when they were the suspects in stealing ninety dollars from the school. Strip-searching teenagers for such a minor offense shouldn’t be allowed, even if the government in Canada has a different idea on that than the United States does. It even states in the article that, “A malicious and predatory authority can make hard time an exquisitely painful emotional, mental and physical experience.” Now after the ordeal, the vice president of the school realizes that it was the wrong thing to do. How is it that people don’t realize something is wrong until after it is done?
Another example of the abuse of power is the whole rule of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. He goes and kills innocent people in his country because they do not support him fully. He took over Iraq with military force and is now the president, or military leader of that country. He abuses the power he has given himself quite often and in cruel ways. For example, in an article written by Robert Prather, he states, “To accomplish his own rule, Saddam has shed so much blood. If his aim is for his power to be transferred to his family after his death, I think this is far into the realm of wishful thinking.” That quote taken from the article shows that to get what he wants, Saddam uses the power he has to kill people that stand up against him. It is almost like it was back in the Puritan days where the people were afraid to stand up against the one who was in charge, except now, you can’t even identify his followers, so if you were to say something insulting about Hussein, you could get arrested or killed without even expecting it.
As you can see, in most cases when authority is represented, there is always going to be one person misusing the power that they have in being authority; and when there are people misusing their power, there are always going to be people below them, too afraid to stand up for what they know is right. Hopefully, sometime when history decides to stop repeating itself, people will learn that if they stick together, then they can rebel against the one or few that are misusing their power of authority.