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Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"

Author Info
Other Works and Time Period
Interview and Survey
Vocab & Quotes
Related Topics and Other Sites
Literary Devices
Scene Summaries
Theme and Character Analysis
Personal Impressions
Discussion Results

Vocab & Quotes

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Vocabulary terms (Act 1)


1. Abomination: an action that is vicious or vile; an action that arouses disgust or abhorrence.

Page 7: “Abominations are done in the forest”


2. Desire: an inclination to want things

Page 7: “I have no desire to punish you”


3. Unnatural: not in accordance with or determined by nature; contrary to nature

Page 7: “Go directly home and speak nothing of unnatural causes”


4. Witchcraft: the art of sorcery

Page 7: “But they’re speakin’ of witchcraft”


5. Precaution: a precautionary measure to ensure warding off impending danger or damage.

Page 9: “A precaution only”


6. Vengeful: disposed to seek revenge or intended for revenge

Page 9: “There are hurtful, vengeful spirits laying hangs on these children”


7. Formidable: extremely impressive in strength or excellence

Page 10: “Goody Ann, it is a formidable sin”


8. Conjure: evoke or call forth, with or as if by magic

Page 10: “…it is a formidable sin to conjure up the dead!”


9. Disputation: the formal presentation of and opposition to a stated proposition

Page 11: “I have no stomach for disputation this morning”


10. Contention: a point asserted as part of an argument

Page 11: “I have had enough contention since I came…”


11. Whipped: (1) a quick blow with a whip

(2) an instrument with a handle and a flexible lash that is used for whipping

Page 11: “You’ll only be whipped for dancing”


12. Reckoning: (1) a bill for an amount due

                        (2) Problem solving that involves numbers or quantities

Page 12: “…I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you.”


13. Foolish: devoid of good sense of judgment

Page 12: “Be you foolish, Mary Warren?”


14. Mumbling: (1) ineffectual chewing

                        (2) Indistinct enunciation

Page 13: “The town’s mumbling witchcraft”


15. Mischief: reckless or malicious behavior that causes discomfort or annoyance in others

Page 13: “I come to see what mischief you uncle’s brewing now”


16. Clutched: a coupling that connects or disconnects driving and driven parts of a driving mechanism

Page 13: “I know how you clutched my back”


17. Covenant: (Bible) an agreement between God and his people in which God makes certain promises and requires certain behavior from them in return. 

Page 14: “…All these Christian Women and their covenanted men!”


18. Notorious: having an exceedingly bad reputation

Page 15: “That is a notorious sign of witchcraft.”


19. Prodigious: so great in size or force or extent as to elicit awe

Page 15: “…a prodigious sign”


20. Testify: (1) give testimony in a court of law

                        (2) Provide evidence for

Page 15: “No one here can testify..?”


21. Bewildered: perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements; filled with bewilderment

Page 15: “My Ruth is bewildered:


22. Parish: a local church community

Page 15: “A wide opinion’s running in the parish that the devil may hearing us...”


23. Warden: the chief official in charge of a prison

Page 16: “Did you consult the wardens of the church?”


24. Society: an extended social group having a distinctive cultural and economic organization

Page 16: “This will set us all to arguing again in the society”


25. Baffled: people who are frustrated and perplexed

Page 16: “Rebecca, the doctor’s baffled”


26. Acreage: an area of ground used for some particular purpose

Page 16: “WE vote by name in this society, not by acreage”


27. Damnation: the act of damning

Page 16: “… only hell fire and bloody damnation”


28. Poverty: the state of having little or no money and few or no material possessions

Page 17: “I am not used to this poverty!”


29. Fathom: beginning to comprehend or understand

Page 17: “I do no fathom it”


30. Contradict: (1) be in contradiction to

                        (2) Deny the truth of

Page 17: “…not to be so lightly crossed and contradicted!”


31. Obedience: behavior intended to please your parents

Page 17: “The is either obedience or the church will burn”


32. Solemnly: in a grace and sedate manner

Page 17: “I mean it Solemnly Rebecca”


33. Defamation: a malicious attack

Page 18: “Good Morning without you clap him for defamation.”


34. Anarchy: a state of lawlessness and disorder

Page 18: “What anarchy is this?”


35. Distinguished: standing above others in character or attainment of reputation

Page 19: “I had not expected such distinguished company”


36. Afloat: Moving; passing from place to place; a rumor is afloat

Page 20: “that’s a sure sign of witchcraft afloat”


37. Superstition: an irrational belief arising from ignorance or fear

Page 20: “We cannot look to superstition in this”


38. Evade: use cleverness or deceit to escape or avoid

Page 23: “You cannot evade me!”


39. Corruption: inducement by improper means to violate duty

Page 23: “She’s always making me dream corruptions”


40. Cleanse: (1) clean one’s body or parts thereof, as by washing

                        (2) Purge of an ideology, bad

Page 25: “…You are chosen to help us cleanse our village”

Dante Aleghieri:

The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.

This quote relates to the play because within the play, Hell is mentioned many times. It shows that the people in the story are going through this moral crisis of witchcraft and accusations, and even within the whole crisis, some are still able to maintain their “neutrality.” This quote is a great explanation and relation to The Crucible.

Blaise Pascal:

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

This quote explains that religious conviction is what makes a person act evil. In The Crucible, the people are convicted of praising the Devil, which is a religious conviction. Then you see that the others are beginning to act evil themselves by inhabiting the Devil and accusing others of doing the same.


The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil.

Within the play, some characters are able to choose whether what is going on is actually evil or not. The people accusing one another of being witches or praising the Devil is distinguished differently between characters, but most think it is their own personal evil.

Anais Nin:

When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow.

I think this quote greatly relates to the novel because since the people are so hooked up on religion, it disables them to think for themselves or come up with their own ideas, instead of only believing that the Devil has inhabited them and that they are Devil-worshipers. The fact that they are lying does not come up very often in the play since religion has kept them from thinking that way.

Richard Garriott:         

Chaos and Order are not enemies, only opposites.

In the play, there is so much chaos between the townspeople that it is hard to comply with. This quote shows that they are not enemies, only opposites. Opposites attract sometimes, so perhaps the characters in the story need to work things out since they are not only enemies. Enemies are usually too tough to work together, but opposites can work easily to come to a compromise.



Albert Einstein:

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.

Einstein makes a good point here, since with every difficulty one may face, there is always an opportunity to make things better. Within the story, the people are going through such a tough phase that they need to take the opportunity to end it all and realize what is actually happening.

Albert Schweitzer:      

Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it.      

This quote shows that those who are able to give themselves up or do a good deed, should not be expecting to be praised. People need to help the others for their own good and own personal pleasure instead of relating to others to praise them for a job well done.


Difficulties increase the nearer we get to the goal.          

This quote greatly relates with the story mainly because the closer they get to ending the whole witchcraft accusations, more and more just keep showing up. The closer they get to closing the case and ignoring what has been happening, they get more clues and more accusations to hurt the current situation even further.

James Russell Lowell:

Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or the handle.

Within the situation in The Crucible, aspects are given to people to see what they do with them. One can give up and accuse others to take the blame off of them, or they can help the others into creating a diversion to show what is actually going on.

Arthur Miller

      All we are is a lot of talking nitrogen.

This quote by Arthur Miller relates with The Crucible because everyone just keeps opening their mouths to blame someone else or talk about someone else to scapegoat their way out of things. The characters just keep on opening their mouths to make things worse in the situation, and Arthur Miller has a good excuse for this.


-Arthur Miller