The Crucible 2 Essay, Research Paper
The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller is a play that takes place in the late 17th century during the famous yet tragic witch trials. It is a story that contains the many struggles that came about as a result of the strict Puritan setting. Miller s depiction of the Salem witch trials deals with a community that starts out with a tightly knit and church loving fa ade. However, once finger pointing at the witches began, the community starts accusing each other. Hysteria and hidden agendas broke down the social structure and it became necessary for everyone to protect themselves from the people that they thought were their friends. Justice and the legal system as well as the togetherness of the community died so that families could protect their social status.
The change-hating Puritan society was led by a church that promoted isolation from any other group of people with different beliefs. The church was against anything that was related to devil-worship, such as dancing and chanting. It was a time of uneasiness and suspicion. After the girls in the village have been caught dancing in the woods and one of them falls sick, rumors circulated about witchcraft going on in the woods, and that the sick girl has been bewitched. Once the girls talk to each other, they become more and more frightened as being accused as witches, so Abigail, the main character and the principle accuser, starts accusing others of practicing witchcraft. They lied not only to protect themselves but the reputation of their families. The accusations grow and grow until the jails overflow with accused witches. Once the scam started, it was too late to stop, and the snowballing effect of wild charges soon resulted in the hanging of many innocents.
After the wave of accusations began, grudges began to surface in the community. Small slights were made out to be witchcraft, and bad business deals were blamed on witchery. Abigail accused Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft because she lusted after her husband, John Proctor. Elizabeth was arrested. It was the hidden motives behind the accusations that fan the flames of the Salem witch trials. Salem s hysteria made the community lose faith in the spiritual beliefs that they were trying to strictly enforce.
It is not difficult to offer explanations for the events in the Salem witch trials. The buried suspicions and hatred underneath a veneer of composure and politeness required by a strict society were released with the first accusation. The Crucible simplifies the causes to create a more interesting story, but in reality, the reasons for the witch craft accusations were more complex. In this time, the ministers of the church held most of the power in the town and they were less than willing to share it. Any deviation from the established norm was a threat to their authority. This included behaviors that promoted free-expression, such as dancing and singing. Also, those who claimed to have healing powers were targeted because that would give them spiritual superiority over the ministers.
A flaw with the play is its inaccuracy with the reaction of the accused. Miller gave the impression that most who were suspected of witchcraft were adamant of their innocence and refused to admit their guilt. However, in real circumstances, many were all too willing to falsify any dealings with the devil and accepted their guilt. With an admission of guilt and a vow never to misbehave again, they could be pitied and released.
The Crucible is useful in its portrayal of the hysteria that was rampant in the era of the Salem Witch trials. Arthur Miller wrote this play as an allegory to show people the insanity of the McCarthy hearings. The story illustrates the danger of the mob mentality, created by a person or group of people desiring fame, as people did during the McCarthy era.