Criticisms Of The Crucible Essay, Research Paper
Criticisms of The Crucible
Authors often write literature to criticize society and mankind. What this means is, authors hope that one will share his/her beliefs and try to change society s thinking. Arthur Miller, in his play The Crucible , hopes to change society. Specifically, Miller criticizes authority, chaos and/or hysteria, and malicious and sinful acts against mankind. Miller uses Judge Danforth, Reverend John Hale, and Reverend Parris to demonstrate his criticism on authority. He uses John Proctor, and Reverend John Hale to express his criticism on chaos and/or hysteria. Finally, he uses Judge Danforth, Abigail Williams, and John Proctor to display his ideas of criticism on malicious and sinful acts on mankind. Miller uses these characters throughout his play as evidence of these attitudes.
Miller uses Judge Danforth, John Hale, and Reverend Parris to demonstrate his criticism on authority. Judge Danforth is the typical Puritan. He believed so strongly in the authority of his position that any attempt to undermine this authority threatened to undermine the authority of the entire church. . . . But you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road in between. This is a sharp time, now, a precise time–we love no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world. Now, by God’s grace, the shining sun is up, and them that fear not light will surely praise it. I hope you will be one of those. (Miller 94). As a result Danforth is a judge who will never yield at any point during the trials. Reverend John Hale makes an arrival in the village as the voice of authority about witches. He is responsible for igniting the trials to begin. He is strongly confident of his views about
an unseen world of witches, which victimizes mankind. He firmly stands by the decision made by the authority of the church to search and punish all known enemies of the church. . . . Man, we must look to cause proportionate. Were there murder done, perhaps, and never brought to light? Abomination? Some secret blasphemy that stinks to Heaven? Think on cause, man, and let you help me to discover it. (Miller 79). Reverend Parris is a man with little to no morals, who is only concerned with personal welfare. He has a greedy nature about himself; he always wants respect for his authority as a minister. There is very little good to be said for him (Miller 8).
Miller uses Proctor and Reverend John Hale to express his criticism of chaos and/or hysteria. The author refers to this passage as an example of how hysteria affects the attitude of the village and its people. I’ll tell you what’s walking Salem now–vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law! (Miller 77). Reverend John Hale sets the stage for hysteria and chaos within the village. He does this by providing the trials with faulty evidence of witnessing the confessions of several individuals seeing the devil. This causes a reaction for people to actually believe that the village is corrupted with witches. An example of this is:
Proctor: I never knew until tonight that the word is gone daft with this nonsense. Hale: I have myself examined Tituba, Sarah Good, and numerous others that have confessed to dealing with the Devil. They have confessed it. Proctor: And why not, if they must hang for denyin’ it?
There are them that will swear to anything before they’ll hang; have you thought of that? (Miller 68-69).
An example that shows how the chaos and hysteria affect the village and its people are when Reverend Hale is arguing with Judge Danforth. This is shown in:
Excellency, there are orphans wandering from house to house; abandoned cattle bellow on the highroads, the stink of rotting crops hangs everywhere, and no man knows when the harlot’s cry will end his life–and you wonder yet if rebellion’s spoke? Better you should marvel how they do not burn your province! (Miller 130).
Miller uses Judge Danforth, Abigail Williams, and John Proctor to display his criticism on malicious and sinful acts against mankind. Judge Danforth turns into a monster throughout the course of the trials. An example of this is:
There will be no postponement . . .. Now hear me and beguile yourselves no more. I will not receive a single plea for pardon or postponement . . . . Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now . . .. If retaliation is your fear, know this–I should hang ten thousand that dared to rise against the law, and an ocean of salt tears could not melt the resolution of the statutes. (Miller 129).
Abigail attempts to destroy the Proctor marriage so that she may have John Proctor for herself. First she uses her sexuality on John, which fails. She makes a second attempt to have John all to herself by using witchcraft. You drank blood, Abby . . .. You drank a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor! (Miller 19). John Proctor is an adulterer; during the course of his marriage he has sex with Abigail
Williams. An example of this is reflected in this quotation:
Abigail: I know how you clutched my back behind your house like a stallion whenever I came near . . . . I saw your face when she put me out, and you loved me then and you do now!. Proctor: Abby, I may think softly of you from time to time. But I will cut off my hand before I’ll ever reach for you again. Wipe it out of mind. We never touched, Abby.
During this Puritanical period of time, adultery was considered an illegal act under the Theocracy of Salem.
In literature authors often criticize society or mankind. Authors hope to change society s thinking by writing literary works in hope that people will share their ideas. Society s attitudes are constantly changing due to events around them and technology. Some individuals find that the thinking during that particular period of history was strict and backward. The religion and village rules were strict. They also believed that witchcraft was involved in the behavior of the village and its people. Arthur Miller criticizes that attitude hoping to awaken society s thinking on such issues. Unfortunately, history does repeat itself and society seems not to learn from its mistakes. One recent example of chaos and hysteria is the Rodney King beating and the subsequent riots in Los Angeles.