How to Compare the Salem Witch Trials with the Crucible

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA image by Khylira from

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.


About the Author

Frannie Bogojevich worked for several years at a nonprofit where she became unofficial copy editor of press releases and blurbs describing cultural events. Her work there was first published in 2006. Bogojevich is artistic director of Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company and manages all marketing aspects of the company. Her online articles specialize in history and theater.

Photo Credits

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA image by Khylira from