The Crucible – belonging essay response

Buffalo Grove High School production

When writing a response to an exam question, the introduction and conclusion are important in showing the marker that you understand the key concepts and texts. Remember to address the question and/or include a strong thesis statement as your opening sentence. If you are unsure about your response, sometimes it is helpful to ‘write yourself into’ the essay by including a strong first parargraph. This begins the body, and can be used to provide important information on your prescribed text. Consider including information on the context, title, author and purpose.

The following sample paragraphs were developed from discussions with my Year 12 Standard class and in response to the 2010 HSC question from Section III of Paper I.

‘An individual’s interaction with others and the world around them can enrich or limit their experience of belonging.’

Discuss this with detailed reference to your prescribed text and ONE other related text of your own choosing.


Our experience of belonging can change according to our perceptions of the world around us. In The Crucible, our understanding of how different characters relate to each other shows us if they are part of their society or isolated. Arthur Miller’s play was first performed in the 1950s and explores institutional prejudice through the structure, setting and dialogue. The music video Back to Black by Amy Winehouse helps us understand a more contemporary sense of belonging through the music, lyrics and film techniques. The relationships shared by the people in each text reveal the barriers to their inclusion or exclusion in different contexts.

Body – First Paragraph

Written in the 1950s, Miller deliberately chose an historical period of turmoil to highlight the limiting effects of the political witchhunts of McCarthyism. Salem in the 1690s was governed by a religious theocracy, and people were expected to follow rules without question. Miller’s title The Crucible relates to a container which allows heat and pressure to be applied to a substance in order to extract a pure product. Through his structure, Miller shows us the purity of John Proctor. There are four acts in this play, and each act has a different setting. These help the audience recognise the hypocrisy of Salem’s ruling elite. For example, Act I opens with characters gathering in a child’s bedroom with morning sunshine streaming through a window. The simply furnished setting reminds us of the functional perspective of the Puritans, and we assume the lighting tells us of innocence. We later learn the young girls use deceit and lies to convince the town of …


Ultimately, each character shows how their relationships affect their ability to belong. Abigail’s need to manipulate others and control the girl’s through fear means that she excludes herself from Salem society. In the end, John Proctor reveals his commitment to honesty and justice by refusing to give up his good name, even though he must forever be separated from his family and community. The Back to Black music video also demonstrates the conflicting experiences of belonging as the persona isolates herself in her grief, but needs the support of her band during the funeral. All these texts show us that our understanding of belonging can be affected by different creators and how they use techniques to explore important social expectations.

perhaps another useful sentence?

Miller invites us to understand his disgust at the impact of dogmatic beliefs, whereas Winehouse shares her sorrow at the end of a relationship. These experiences are recognised by different audiences in different contexts.

* there is an analysis of Back to Black on my music video page

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