Every masterpiece or a literary piece has unique quotations expressing universal themes. These quotes are often quoted by all and sundry in ordinary conversation and specific writings, speeches and addresses. One of the best literary pieces, The Crucible quotes are also memorable, universal and highly appealing. Arthur Miller has used this play to show his disdain for the old Salem witch trial and its aftereffects in the American society. The utterances of its remarkable characters appeal to readers’ hearts and project their real personality, emotions, and actions. Here are some of its memorable quotations with a contextual explanation.
Quotes from The Crucible
“I want the light of God; I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!”
Abigail speaks these lines by the end of the first act. Her outburst represents the hypocrisy in Salem, and the nature of witchcraft exercised at that time over there. Throughout the first act, the guilt of having a charm with friends in the forest haunts her. After the confession of Tituba to witchcraft, she dares liberate herself from that guilt. Her confession starts consorting with the devil, moves to reunite with Jesus and ends with blaming of others. This quote shows how Abigail sets herself free from the guilt.
“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! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!”
Toward the end of the play, Proctor’s attempt to defend himself and speaks these words. He stands on the verge of confusion whether to sign the confession or not. These lines show his obsession with his reputation and good name. Though he is ashamed of committing adultery, he does not want any other mishap in life that can disrepute his good name, for it is the only truth left in his life. These lines prove that Proctor strives hard to secure his good name.
“And mark this. 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. 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!”
Abagail says these words to Mary and Mercy. This threat gives a glimpse of Abagail’s harsh nature that if anyone of them discloses the secret of her witchcraft, she will not hesitate to kill them in the dark of the night. These lines indicate that Abagail wants reunification with Proctor, and she does not care about the lives of the innocents.
“I look for John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart! I never knew what pretense Salem was, I never knew the lying, lessons I was taught by all these Christian women and their covenanted men! And now you bid me tear the light out of my eyes? I will not, I cannot! You loved me, John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you love me yet!”
Abigail speaks these words in the first act and provides the audience a clue about her past affair with John Proctor. For Proctor, his past affair is the tale of the past, which he does not want to repeat. However, Abagail begs him to come back, as this quote shows her anger toward Salem. She is also jealous of Elizabeth and wants to get rid of her to get John back. This quote shows the vindictive nature of Abagail.
“You must understand, sir that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. This is a sharp time, now, a precise time—we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world. Now, by God’s grace, the shining sun is up, and them that fear not light will surely praise it.”
Danforth sums up the attitudes of authorities toward witchcraft in Act III with these words. Though he is an honorable man, unlike other people of Salem, he sees things as black and white. In religious terms of that time, a person either belongs to God or Devil. The court in Salem belongs to God. Therefore, the one who goes against the court ultimately goes against God. Since the court is conducting the witchcraft trial, anyone opposing it like Proctor or Giles Corey will be the enemy of the court. These lines display the supremacy of religion in the judicial system of Salem.
“A man may think God sleeps, but God sees everything, I know it now. I beg you, sir, I beg you—see her what she is. . . . She thinks to dance with me on my wife’s grave! And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a whore’s vengeance.”
In Act III Proctor finally breaks the barrier and speaks about his relationship with Abagail. This incident marks the center of the play where Proctor’s concern for justice supersedes his concern for reputation. He knows from the beginning that witchcraft is vengeance of an adulteress Abigail. However, he does not take it to the public for the preservation of his position. A delay in his confession not only proves him a liar but also makes him the prime accused.
“We burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment.”
Danforth speaks these words to Proctor that believing in truth can help his escape from the walls of the court. The girls were telling lies in court since day one. Here the “hot fire” is a metaphor of two things. First, it represents the disturbed environment of Salem, which is similar to hell. Second, it explains the title of the play as well. The term “Crucible” refers to a container where metal and other substances are melted at a high temperature. Similarly, the fire will help to melt down the hearts of flint-hearted people in Salem. It also foreshadows Proctor’s confession of infidelity.
“You will not use me! I am no Sarah Good or Tituba, I am John Proctor! You will not use me! It is no part of salvation that you should use me!”
Danforth convinces Proctor to sign the confession in these lines. Proctor signs the confession, but when Danforth tries to take it, he snatches it back, voicing the above lines. He knows the cycle of witchcraft practiced in Salem. That is why he does not want to be compared with those who were caught with witchcraft hysteria. He accepts his fault that having an affair was something wrong but he would not admit to consorting with Devil. This quote shows the helplessness of John Proctor before the religious court.
“Let you not mistake your duty as I mistook my own. I came into this village like a bridegroom to his beloved, bearing gifts of high religion; the very crowns of holy law I brought, and what I touched with my bright confidence, it died; and where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood flowed up.”
Hale speaks these words when he, along with Parris, tries to force Danforth to postpone the hanging. He says in front of Elizabeth and Hathorne that he has arrived to save those who are blamed of witchcraft. Once as a religious man, he used to believe in witchcraft. This quote reflects that his perspective toward witchcraft has changed and signifies progress in Hale’s character.
“I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another. I have no tongue for it.”
Proctor utters these words in the fourth act at the time of confession. Throughout the play, he strives hard to suppress his guilt that he has committed the act of adultery. However, when the judges and Hale bring him to confess witchcraft, he disagrees to confess for the crime he did not commit; instead he admits his infidelity with Abagail. This quote proves that Proctor redeems himself and sacrifices his life at the end.