The Symbolism of Dancing in 'The Crucible'

Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" parodies the social climate in America in the 1950s. Influenced by the paranoia of the Joseph McCarthy anti-communist hearings and based on the Salem witch trials, the play portrays the confusion between good and evil. The establishment suspects a servant, Tituba, and a group of girls of putting spells on townspeople and causing disasters to fall upon them. The girls follow Tituba into the woods at night, and they dance by a fire, mumbling chants, which alarm the men in the town. The dances symbolize many things, including defiance and unity.

The Dance

The dances unite Tituba and the girls in spirit. Uniformly, the girls are unhappy with the harsh, judgmental attitudes of the leaders in Salem. The dances are both defiant and self-empowering. Rather than follow the norms of their society, the girls make their own choices and join in the dance. The dances release them from conventions and guilt, and they represent desire for pleasure. The interpretation of the dances as being obscene, supernatural or evil reflect the guilt in the people judging them more that the acts themselves.

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