The Crucible brings a portrayal of puritan society in colonial America. In particular, the Salem witch trials sparked a great deal of controversy over the superstition in the paranormal and witchcraft. Hysteria eventually seized the New England area as women were put on the stand and tried for witchcraft. Arthur Miller introduced many different thematic elements into the play, in particular the incorporation of one of the main protagonists, John Proctor, as a Christ figure.
Through the progression of the novel, there are many conflicts. Some of these are considered external, such as the accusation of characters like Tituba of witchcraft to the underlying hidden conflicts such as the love between John Proctor and Abigal Williams, even though he is married to Elizabeth Proctor. Abigal, becoming opsessed with power and attention, goes on a rampage through the town accusing all those that opposed her of being witches. Proctor stands by idely, aware of the fact that Abigal is making many of these up. In an attempt to win Proctor over, Abigal accuses Elizabeth of witchcraft. Proctor stands up for his wife in an effort to protect her. In the allegory of being a Christ figure, Proctor attempts to make things right for the friends that had already been executed for witchcraft as well as his wife by committing an act of sacrifice. In addition, he attempts to remove his sin by confessing of the sexual acts to the court. This act of sacrifice drives the town to refuse accusations of Abigal, who eventually flees the town. In an effort to save his reputation, the prosecutor tries to get the accused to admit to witchcraft in the exchange to save his reputation. Proctor does not admit to this, which leads to his self-sacrifice in order to save the accused.
Even through the play was written to symbolize the Red Scare happening in America, the broader theme of the context can be related to the religious context which is intertwined with historical accounts. Proctor realized how by being silent and allowing Abigal to run rampant was hurting people. Due to his indiscretion and attempt to save himself from admitting to infidelity, Abigal exerted a psychological hold on not only him, but the town as well. Even though it would lead to punishment and his end, Proctor took it upon himself to give the ultimate sacrifice as a mean of saving his wife as well as making sure that the death of his friend’s was not in vain. As a result, the only way to stop the executions from happening was through self-sacrifice, which is why the character of John Proctor can be a symbol and representation for the Christ figure.