These Arthur Miller’s The Crucible quotes help us think critically about our individuality in the face of extremism. Miller masterfully uses historical events to bring to life the Salem witch trials.
Today a “witch hunt” is understood to be a campaign directed against a person or group holding unorthodox or unpopular views. However, Miller gives us the stark, brutal reality where this term originated.
A saying from Japan suggests the nail who sticks out gets hammered down, meaning those who are different from the majority will be punished. This book was banned in the United States because it mirrored the violence and humiliation many Americans suffered during the McCarthy era.
The Crucible has special relevance today as many people are forced to balance a life amidst extremism, herd mentality and individuality. The Crucible makes us ask how far would we go to fit in? Do we hide our inner thoughts and true nature to others?
These 50 The Crucible quotes help us to make our own conclusions to these questions.
1. “It is an allegory of our times.”
2. “Sex, sin, and the Devil were early linked.”
3. “Some dream I had must have mistaken you for God that day.”
4. “I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another. I have no tongue for it.”
5. “…an everlasting funeral marches round your heart.”
“6. You are pulling down heaven and raising up a whore”
7. “God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!”
8. “There is prodigious fear in seeking loose spirits.”
9. “We are only what we always were”
10. “Peace. It is a providence, and no great change; we are only what we always were, but naked now.”
The Crucible Quotes that Make You Think
11. “Give them no tear! Tears pleasure them. Show honor now, show a stony heart and sink them with it!”
12. “I may think of you softly from time to time. But I’ll cut off my hand before I ever reach for you again.”
13. “I should hang ten thousand that dared to rise against the law, and an ocean of salt tears could not melt the resolution of the statutes.”
14. “What work you do! It’s strange work for a Christian girl to hang old women!”
15. “Oh,Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer.”
16. “Perhaps because there are those who believe that authority is all of a piece and that to challenge it anywhere is to threaten it everywhere.”
17. “The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone…”
18. “Life, woman, life is God’s most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it.”
19. “PROCTOR, his mind wild, breathless: I say–I say–God is dead!”
20. “Great stones they lay upon his chest until he plead aye or nay. They say he give them but two words. “More weight,” he says. And died.”
The Crucible Quotes from Arthur Miller
21. “He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!”
22. “A child’s spirit is like a child, you can never catch it by running after it; you must stand still, and, for love, it will soon itself come back.”
23. “We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!”
24. “It is rare for people to be asked the question which puts them squarely in front of themselves”
25. “I cannot sleep for dreaming; I cannot dream but I wake and walk about the house as though I’d find you comin’ through the door.”
26. “It’s the proper morning to fly into Hell.”
27. “Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you.”
28. “And you know I can do it; I saw Indians smash my dear parents’ heads on the pillow next to mine, and I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down!
29. “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang!”
30. “How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!”
The Crucible Quotes About Good and Evil
31. “A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth!”
32. “Political opposition… is given an inhumane overlay, which then justifies the abrogation of all normally applied customs of civilized behavior. A political policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence.”
33. “For them that quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud-”
34. “When it is recalled that until the Christian era the underworld was never regarded as a hostile area, that all gods were useful and essentially friendly to man despite occasional lapses.”
35. “What victory would the Devil have to win a soul already bad? It is the best the Devil wants, and who is better than the minister.”
36. “When we see the steady methodical inculcation into humanity of the idea of man’s worthlessness – until redeemed – the necessity of the Devil may become evident as a weapon, a weapon designed and used time and time again in every age to whip men into a surrender to a particular church or church state.”
37. “[W]e conceive the Devil as a necessary part of a respectable view of cosmology.”
38. “Ours is a divided empire in which certain ideas and emotions and actions are of God, and their opposites are of Lucifer.”
39. “It is as impossible for most men to conceive of a morality without sin as of an earth without ‘sky’. Since 1692 a great but superficial change has wiped out God’s beard and the Devil’s horns, but the world is still gripped between two diametrically opposed absolutes.”
40. “The concept of unity, in which positive and negative are attributes of the same force, in which good and evil are relative, ever-changing, and always joined to the same phenomenon – such a concept is still reserved to the physical sciences and to the few who have grasped the history of ideas.”
A Few More The Crucible Quotes From The Book
41. “If she is innocent! Why do you never wonder if Parris be innocent, or Abigail? Is the accuser always holy now? Were they born this morning as clean as God’s fingers?”
42. “I’ll tell you what’s walking Salem—vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!”
43. “In an ordinary crime, how does one defend the accused? One calls up witnesses to prove his innocence. But witchcraft is ipso facto, on its face and by its nature an invisible crime, is it not?” The witch and the victim. None other.”
44. “Now we cannot hope the witch will accuse herself; granted? Therefore, we must rely upon her victims – and they do testify, the children certainly do testify.”
45. “Here is all the invisible world, caught, defined, and calculated. In these books the Devil stands stripped of all his brute disguises. Here are all your familiar spirits-your incubi and succubi; your witches that go by land, by air, and by sea; your wizards of the night and of the day. Have no fear now-we shall find him out and I mean to crush him utterly if he has shown his face!”
46. “…I can. And there’s your first marvel, that I can. You have made your magic now, for now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from such dogs.
47. “Man, remember, until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven.”
48. “It is as though they stood in a spinning world.”
49. “John Proctor’s flaw is his failure, until the last moment, to distinguish guilt from responsibility; America’s is to believe that it is at the same time both guilty and without flaw.”
50. “When one rises above the individual villainy displayed, one can only pity them all, just as we shall be pitied some day.”
Our society is much like the society in The Crucible. In their world, a group of children playing in the woods avoid accountability by blaming neighbors and projecting their guilt.
These actions reflect the paranoia emanating out of the people in the environment as well as a childlike abuse of power. In real life, by 1692 the court in Salem convicted and executed 19 people for being witches.
Some judge this as barbaric, but we continue to hear stories of “Karen” or “Kevin” narratives where people are falsely accused, incarcerated or killed because of a projected lie that is accepted by the public.
Increasing imprisonment rates continue to reflect the mob mentality and “good” versus “bad” narrative that doomed the lives of people in Salem. The Crucible reinforces the importance of living our truth and not letting shame or regret stop us from being our best self while also reminding us how easily fear and paranoia can impair our perceptions when left unchecked.