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Arthur Miller’s Application of Juxtaposition in 'The Crucible'

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Complimentarily, Arthur Miller’s application of juxtaposition highlights the differences between characters who are significantly different and brings to light those who don’t belong. An example of the juxtaposition Miller applies is between the characters Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor. The black and white rulings of the characters would be almost ironic, bearing in mind that Arthur Miller wrote this play to expose the hazards of judging people with different mindsets or belief systems. Abigail Williams is evidently the villain of the play, she tells lies, manipulates everyone around her, and bestows 19 innocent townspeople to their execution. During the hysteria, Abigail’s motivations are simply jealousy and the aspiration to have vengeance on Elizabeth. The audience encounters Elizabeth Proctor through the words of Abigail, who describes Elizabeth as In Act II, Elizabeth is further familiarised to the audience. We then immediately perceive that Abigail is a liar and that Elizabeth is, in fact, the opposite of ‘bitter and snivelling’. Arthur Miller’s implementation of this juxtaposition is especially successful in conveying his concept of belonging, that going against powerful individuals can trigger the alienation of moral people.

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Furthermore, Abigail wants John for the social status and lust; she then discards him when she apprehends there is nothing for her to gain. Juxtaposed to this, Elizabeth, despite Johns transgression, is prepared to lie for him and is devoted. Consequently, the audience perceives Elizabeth’s love for Proctor as true, because it is juxtaposed to Abigail’s fabricated ‘love’. It’s Abigail who took John Proctor’s ‘goodness’ away, but Elizabeth who gives it back. Investigating the characters and motives of these 2 key females, a rough microcosm comes into view, paralleling the message of the story. The reader begins to recognize that more is at play than a surface rendering of ‘good’ versus ‘evil’. Lighting is additionally utilised to support Arthur Miller in communicating the concept of belonging. Miller is very precise regarding light effects in the play, the theme of light juxtaposed to dark foretells the upcoming events. Darkness conveys an aura of evil in the play, it is reflected through Abigail or through an evil spirit to expose evil in the town. Contrasting to light, which symbolises belonging and the truth through Religion. There is the hope of belonging within light, even though the audience sees that the light (belonging) is dimming as the play advances.

Therefore, with Arthur Miller’s effective use of aesthetic features and stylistic devices, including, characterisation, irony and juxtaposition to reveal the impulses of domestic tyranny in the United States, to allegorically juxtapose the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s with the Salem Witch Trial and reflect on factors such as political, social and psychological impacts.

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Arthur Miller’s Application of Juxtaposition in ‘The Crucible’. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from
“Arthur Miller’s Application of Juxtaposition in ‘The Crucible’.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
Arthur Miller’s Application of Juxtaposition in ‘The Crucible’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Mar. 2024].
Arthur Miller’s Application of Juxtaposition in ‘The Crucible’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2024 Mar 1]. Available from:
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