The Crucible 10 Essay, Research Paper
Adultery: a possible cause of Salem Trials?
Could Proctor & Abigail’s adultery be responsible for some acts that happened during the prosecutions in the Salem witchtrials? One might say not, while another could say it plays a great part in the story.
John Proctor s past adultery with Abigail Williams could be considered partially responsible for John Proctor and Elizabeth Proctor being accused of being witches in Arthur Miller s The Crucible . The Crucible is a story about how a young woman (Abigail Williams) falls in love with a married man (John Proctor) and will eventually do whatever it takes to take his wife s (Elizabeth Proctor) place. Everything gets out of hand and suddenly there supposedly is witchcraft in Salem, and the children involved in this all lie there way out, and accuse
innocent villagers of devilish work.
One obvious reason Abigail Williams has for blaming John Proctor s wife, Elizabeth Proctor, of witchcraft, is the fact that she is madly in love with John Proctor. Elizabeth knows this, too, and has even caught her husband with Abigail once. She then got rid of her as a maid, and put her on the road. When she is talking to her uncle, Reverend Parris, she even mentions that She [Elizabeth Proctor] hates me, uncle. It s a bitter woman, a lying, cold, sniveling woman… (page 12). It is clear that Abigail is speaking with a jealous tone, and that Elizabeth only did what seemed to be the best way to keep her family together. Abigail, however, does not understand nor accept this, since she is deeply in love with John Proctor, and sees Elizabeth as her adversary.
Once the word witchcraft has fallen in Salem, the girls who were dancing in the woods with Tituba realize that there is no way out of this ludicrous situation without punishment, unless they pretend that they certainly were troubled by other s spirits. They need to stick to the same story, otherwise the village will immediately notice that it is all a fraud. But, because of the hysteria, they can get away with the dancing because they blame it on witchcraft, and witches whom they appoint. The most powerful ones in Salem, for example the Reverend and the judges, do not seem to notice that they actually push the children in the direction of appointing supposed witches, as they have done with Abigail, and later on with Tituba. They make it seem right to accuse others of witchcraft even if there is nothing wrong with the children. At the end of Act Two, Thomas Putnam gives the children who are present ideas of whom to blame, Sarah Good? Did you ever see Sarah Good with him? Or Osburn? (page 46). By doing this, he sets a very bad example for the children: he shows them it is very easy to blame others to save yourself.
When Abigail Williams sees that it is so easy to blame anyone in Salem, even Rebecca Nurse, she takes it a little further. Anyone who gets in her way or anyone who she does not like, will be blamed for witchcraft, since the court believes her and not the accused. But John Proctor gets Mary Warren to confess that it was all a fraud, and that she never saw any witches, nor did any of the other girls. He gets her to write a deposition and sign it. But when she has to go to court, things get a little more complicated. Of course Abigail does not agree with Mary Warren confessing their secret . When Mary Warren is done talking to Judge Hathorne, he decides to interrogate Abigail. While he is asking her questions, she suddenly pretends to be attacked by Mary Warren s spirit. Now Mary Warren realizes that either she has to suffer the consequences of being accused of witchcraft (which means death), or let someone else suffer by false accusation. She decides to do the last, and she picks John
Proctor as her victim, saying … you are the devil s man! … (page 118).
John Proctor s past adultery with Abigail Williams is of course not the only factor that is responsible for him and his wife being accused of being witches, but it is one though that started it all. Other huge factors are the hysteria of the people in Salem, and the great fear of the Devil. If they had not had such great fear of the Devil, many would not have hanged for innocence and all would have seen that there was no witchcraft in Salem. But Proctor s
adultery with Abigail Williams has had an effect on the entire case. It gave Abigail a–in her eyes–good reason to accuse Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft. Then, if Elizabeth was hanged, she hoped she could take her place in Proctor s life. Not everything went the way Abigail had planned it and she feared that in Salem the same thing would happen as occurred in Andover, where the people overthrew the court, and did not believe in witchcraft. If this would happen,
she would be punished and she certainly would not go to Heaven.