The Crucible by Arthur Miller is an account of the Salem Witch trials, which took place in Massachusetts during the 1600s. The play centers on a community of Puritans who lose their righteousness as they fall victim to the spreading of lies and deceit. Abigail Williams, the reverend's niece, starts the hysteria of witchcraft to get revenge on her lover’s wife, Goody Proctor. Written in the 1950s, Miller used the witch hunt as a metaphor for the 'Red Scare', the growing threat of communism in the United States during the 1950s.
In the play, good Christians are accused of witchcraft by Abigail and many other young girls in the community. They lie to save themselves. When others in town see their accusations are being taken seriously, they begin to use accusations to settle old feuds, to gain land or power, and for vengeance against those they dislike.
John Proctor, Abigail’s former lover, becomes the martyr, refusing to sign a decree stating he consorted with the Devil. He refused to save his life through a lie, which would make him no better than his accusers. He also realized that signing would ruin his family name for centuries to come. In the end, he is hanged as a witch.