This play is named The Crucible, which means a severe test or trial, because the accused, the families, and the girls are being put through a great ordeal.
Foremost, this is the most difficult for the men and women accused by the girls. They were actually put on trial and sent to jail, torn between the decision of lying under oath or being hung. In the Puritan society, it was unheard of the lie under the oath of God because of their deeply religious beliefs; they thought they would be sent to Hell. This put a great strain on their minds and forced them to go into an even deeper trial than shown on the surface – the trial of morals.
The families of the accused are also put “on trial.” They face the agony of losing a loved one, if he or she decides to go with God, and not proclaim themself to be a witch. The families may try their hardest to persuade them to tell a lie and set themself free, but they would also have to live with the lie, and the perpetual doubt of the town. Some of these women have very young children, who would be scarred for life because of the horror in the town, at their early age. Some of the youngsters themselves are being put on trial, as the witches’ familiars.
It is also an ordeal for the girls, because they are finally having power thrust upon them, after being shunned all their lives, because they are both female and children. By giving the pointing finger to the girls, they suddenly have the highest status of any in the town, with as much responsibility and reverence as the minister. They believe that this is only child’s play, and that no one will be hurt by it, but the frightening truth is revealed after the first woman is hung. They must keep calling names, rebelling against all they have learned in their lives to keep the so-called worship of the townspeople. There is an unseen burden of all these women’s lives, those who were traumatized, and those who were murdered cold-heartedly.
In all, this is not just a trial or severe test for the women accused; it affects and harms every person living in the towns at these times. They live in constant terror that maybe they will be the next chosen “witch.” Their families hope and pray that their wives and mothers will not be accused. The girls grow more powerful by each passing day; this puts the town under such severe pressure that soon it may break from the constant trial of morals.