How to Compare the Salem Witch Trials with the Crucible


The Salem witch trials are infamous in American history. They inspired Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible," which takes place during the trials. There are many differences and similarities between the play and historical fact.

Playwright's Perspective

  • "The Crucible" includes a preface by Arthur Miller explaining the license he took with history. He took responsibility for altering historical fact to best suit his dramatic needs.


  • The driving force in Miller's play is a love affair between Abigail Williams and John Proctor. Historical record indicates that Abigail was 11, not 17, at the time of the trials, while Proctor was 60, making the play's central plot device wholly inaccurate.


  • All of the play's characters share names with historical figures, but details are largely different. For example, Tituba is African American in the play but in history was actually American Indian.

Factual Differences

  • Factual differences between the play and history are many. One example is the presence of three judges during the trials in the play. There were actually eight.


  • There are parallels between history and "The Crucible." Giles Corey, for example, was accused of being a witch, refused to enter a plea and was pressed with stones, resulting in his death.

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