The Crucible: Differences Between the Movie and Play

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Adaptations of stories tend to differ and develop individual aspects, depending on their eras of creation, modes of publication, and intended audience. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible as a play was published in 1952, while it was released as a movie in 1996 (Arenas Garcia, 2016). The essay seeks to distinguish both versions of the story and determine how and why they can be individual art pieces representing the Salem Witch Trials story. It explores how their scenes, settings, characters, and character interactions differ, and how these differences individualize each piece. The movie and play versions of The Crucible illustrate how the story is portrayed differently through different scenes and characters.

Differences in Scenery and Settings

Primarily, the scene where the girls dance in the woods is an active piece of the movie. They dance around a fire and shout chants with Reverend Parris’ slave, Tituba. The group also place random objects in a pot, including a frog, as they dance and chant. The scene was filled with intensity, as the movie shows Abigail gradually losing her sanity, undressing, and rubbing chicken blood on herself (Morris, 2021). In the play, their dancing is only portrayed as a flashback. The play’s scene also shows Mercy Lewis undressing during the dance, instead of Abigail.

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In the movie, Betty is also seen springing out of her bed and quickly heading for the window as she shouts. All of Salem witnesses what happens but chooses assume that she has been bewitched, especially with her past suicidal tendencies. In the play, the character does not jump out of bed and head for the window (Morris, 2021). Furthermore, in the movie, it is also seen that Reverend Parris whips Tituba, his slave. Tituba is whipped because of the dance and the actions that transpired therein. The Reverend whips Tituba because the girls claim that she released the devil and corrupted them, which she eventually confesses (Hwang, 2022). In the play, the reverend only threatens to whip Tituba.

Overall, it is evident that the movie shows relatively more scenes than the play, adding more emotion and feelings. The play is more hinged to the Salem Witch Trial story’s roots and conflict, through its scenes, characters, and thematic portrayals (Arenas Garcia, 2016). It is also evident that, while the movie’s scenes are more set outdoors and in the external environment, the play’s scenes are more set indoors. Differences in setting and scenery makes the movie and play versions of the story individual pieces of art, with each illustrating crucial thematic contrasts and contradictions.

Differences in Characters, Character Relationships, and Interactions

The relationship between John Proctor and Abigail is more intense in the movie. The film shows Abigail kissing John Proctor a few times, as well as groping him behind a house. The movie continues to show more intense interactions between the characters, filled with adultery and deception, especially when they are alone (Morris, 2021). As Abigail is obsessed with John, she frames his wife for witchcraft to get her hanged and out of John’s life. John decides to take responsibility for his wife’s alleged crimes and is imprisoned. The turn of events was against Abigail’s wishes, which results in her deep regret. On the other hand, Abigail and John Proctor’s relationship is more passive in the play and the audience mostly hears about it. Abigail is portrayed as a less obsessed and psychotic character.

Further, when John Proctor is imprisoned, Abigail pays him a visit. She is saddened by her actions and attempts to make prison life easier for John. Abigail plans a strategy to break John out of prison, which he declines because he knows she is a liar. The movie also shows how Abigail is regretful of her lustful actions, which have caused widespread paranoia and chaos across the entire town. In the play, Abigail fails to see John and flees Salem instead. Her decision shows how Abigail is unapologetic and care-free, which widely contradicts her character in the movie.

Finally, in the movie, it is evident how the girls confront and attack Mary Warren prior to the court trials. They gang up on Mary and attack her in a room away from the court. In the play, the girls betray and attack her in court (Morris, 2021). Summatively, the movie and play versions of The Crucible show significant differences in how the characters are portrayed, interact, and relate with each other, making each piece individual and independent from the other.


The movie and play versions of The Crucible are seemingly different in their portrayals of scenes, settings, characters, and character interactions. For example, several differences are seen in the scenes where the girls dance in the woods, Betty’s outburst, Tituba’s punishment by the Reverend, general connection to the Salem Witch Trials story, and indoor-outdoor setting. More differences are seen in the characters, character interactions, and inter-relationships between John Proctor and Abigail, as well as Mary Warren and the girls. Given the wide range of differences between the movie and the play, they can be individual pieces of art stemming from the original story. Moreover, with over four decades separating their publications, the art pieces individually represent different aspects of their eras.

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  1. Arenas García, L. (2016). Arthur Miller’s The Crucible: A connection between Salem and McCarthyism (Dissertation, Universidad de Valladolid). UVADOC.
  2. Hwang, J. (2022). Tituba, “Dark Eve” in the origins of the American myth: The subject of history and writing about Salem. CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, 23(4), 6.
  3. Morris, H. (2021). Bewitching the blame: The crucible’s legacy of appropriation and sexual shame in popular culture (Doctoral dissertation, Illinois State University). ISU ReD: Research and eData.
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