The Crucible

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Themes and Colors
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
Hysteria Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Crucible, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Puritan society required that its members follow strict guidelines of social order. These rigid rules of conduct helped the Puritans endure the persecution they faced in Europe and, after they came to America, created a close-knit community able to withstand the harsh weather and Native American attacks common to New England in the 17th century. But communities that focus primarily on social order leave no room for personal freedom. Those who think or act independently…

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In The Crucible, neighbors suddenly turn on each other and accuse people they've known for years of practicing witchcraft and devil-worship. The town of Salem falls into mass hysteria, a condition in which community-wide fear overwhelms logic and individual thought and ends up justifying its own existence. Fear feeds fear: in order to explain to itself why so many people are afraid, the community begins to believe that the fear must have legitimate origins.

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An ideology is a rigid set of beliefs that defines what an individual or community thinks. In the Puritan theocracy of Massachusetts, a government run by religious authorities, the dominant ideology held that the Puritans were a chosen people that the devil would do anything to destroy. Since religious men ran their government, the Puritans considered all government actions to be necessarily "good," or sanctioned by Heaven. This meant that any attempt to question, obstruct…

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Reputation is the way that other people perceive you. Integrity is the way you perceive yourself. Several characters in The Crucible face a tough decision: to protect their reputation or their integrity. Parris, Abigail, and others to protect their reputations. Rebecca Nurse and, eventually, John Proctor, choose to protect their integrity.

In rigid communities like Salem, a bad reputation can result in social or even physical punishment. The Crucible argues that those most…

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