Alternative Readings of the Crucible



  • Abigail is a source of evil who deserves punishment but escapes
  • Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor are the unfair victims and heroic martyrs
  • Tituba is a force of disturbance in that community coming from abroad – she saves herself
  • Rev. Parris & Hale are the typical fools who become wise – trying to act for good they learn the error of their ways by the end of the play



Classic roles for women:

  • Abigail – pretends to be the dutiful daughter but really is a (sexually) bad girl
  • Rebecca Nurse – the caring mother
  • Tituba – mad and bad


Feminist reading – how does this reinforce the role of women in society

  • Punishing Nurse but making her appear the image of the perfect martyr reinforces the idea that this is how women should behave
  • Abigail’s sexual motive for revenge which was invented by Miller, reinforces the idea that promiscuity in women is evil. In contrast John’s indiscretion is not punished in the same way – he dies but he dies a hero
  • The fact that Abigail , although a powerful woman, is evil reinforces the idea that there are no acceptable strong roles for women in society
  • Abigail and Tituba have been forced into unusual behaviour by the oppressive male dominated society in which they live. When that behaviour is discovered by the men, in order to protect themselves from persecution they have to denounce others as witches. This shows the lack of freedom they suffer.
  • The only slave in the play is a woman – women should be obedient.



The dominant characters in society:

  • Proctor has a maid – Abigail and then Mary Warren
  • Parris has a slave – Tituba


Marxist reading – how does this reinforce the economic structure of the Capitalist society

  • The slaves / workers who revolt against their masters are the evil characters
  • Mary Warren is at her most heroic when she is doing John’s bidding (telling the truth)
  • John – the hero – is a land owner who dies for the selfish reason of personal integrity instead perhaps of signing a confession and thereby saving others by encouraging them to do the same.
  • Although Abigail subverts who is in control in this society – there is still control, people now follow her orders


However because Miller has Marxist sympathies he may try to undermine Capitalism

  • The slave relationship is clear – emphasised by Tituba having to lie to save her life
  • The powerful figures in society are the villains / the fools
  • Parris, a powerful figure, is shown as greedy the candlesticks and firewood
  • Proctor does refuse to submit to the demands of those in power and dies a hero for this