Crucible Essay, Research Paper
Literary compositions are composed of series of lines entwined and tangled together to produce a rainbow of emotions and insights. Within it, a distinct line, a picture of jumbled puzzles of vowels and consonants, can be sharply tuned, to uncover the subtly hidden themes. Arthur Miller s own Crucible is no exception, with its pages shock full of such lines. One certain line graces on the last passage of Act Two, spoken by John Proctor, a lost man in struggle for goodness and truth. He claims desperately, trying to convince Mary Warren, in attempt to save his wife, Peace. It is a providence, and no great change; we are only what we always were, but naked now. Proctor s line, wrapped by a rash of blabber, focuses and expresses one of the aspects of the play, performed in emotion and theme. Proctor s quote can be perceived as a religious babble from a frantic man, in weak hopes of keeping his wife from her misjudged death warrant. Proctor is declaring that peace is a providence, which in turn is not really a big change. An illustration that man is whom he always was, only presently, naked. The center of attention in the line is peace. The limelight is shined upon it; emphasized, defined and supported by Proctor. His insightful view on the heavenly word is what he strives for throughout the Crucible. Peace is the key to Proctor s locked quote. So, what exactly is peace? Our dictionary friend, Webster states peace in several questionable meanings. Is it freedom from strife; a sort of harmony, concord, amity? Or perhaps a different type of peace? One of public quiet, order and security? Then there is always peace as the freedom of war. Previous lines in the passage mention peace in the light of making peace, as ordered to Mary Warren. Making peace, the way Webster sees it, is to effect reconciliation for oneself or for someone else. Proctor demanded Mary Warren to reach a harmony, in effect receiving her aid in testifying for his wife s innocence. But peace, itself, as expressed in the line, is all three things: freedom from strife, war, and public quiet, order, security. Proctor feels that peace will be reached when Mary, Elizabeth (his wife), the town, and himself will be rid and free of the conflict about witchcraft, where the war between the truth and lies clash. Then will the order of the Puritan community be restored. Then, Proctor s wish for Elizabeth s life will be fulfilled. Then there will be peace. However, Proctor, in his moment of perceptive madness, speaks of peace as an insignificant shift in life. Only later in the play does he realize how great peace actually is. Peace, itself may not be remarkable, but its effects are to be noted. In his line, Proctor claims that peace is a providence. Providence, defined by the worded Webster, is God s care and help. He also says that peace is not a great change. From the tone, it can be correctly assumed that Proctor believes that peace is a given, something granted, of course, by the righteous lord, God. Proctor made an intuitive statement on peace, but was ignorant to the effects. Only towards the end does he realize how great peace really is.
The ending of the line is focused as an example to support his theory. He claims that peace is not a change; the only difference being, that man is naked now. Therefore, that the nakedness of man is what disturbed the peace. Proctor s statement brings forth the old theme of illusion versus reality. The illusion the Puritans set up of others is what maintained the order in their community. But when reality invited himself over, the peace was destroyed, the community broken up. Because ignorant and donkey-stubborn people could not face the truth that witches just may not exist, that the so-called victims, the young faces of innocence, may have lied through their teeth, numerous people died. Yes, the Puritans were really wonderful people. Like Adam and Eve, they headed for the bushes once they realized their nakedness. Also like the Garden of Eden outcasts, they blamed others to cover the truth, the illusion. The Puritans were always naked. They sinned like ordinary people. It was only when they realized that the lying cloaks had vanished, did they start to point the finger. Peace had been demolished. Proctor, though presented as a wimpy unfaithful husband, made his mark in his remarkable line. Peace, in his view, was not a miraculous change, it was something given by God to help mankind below. Proctor insightfully declared that the peace was disturbed by the realization of the nakedness of man. Therefore the peace could probably be regained if the people dressed themselves up again in respectful looking drabs of wardrobe. Yet Proctor went with the truth, striving to restore peace with the bare facts laid out. Dreadfully, Proctor paid for his belief with the ultimate check signed out in his death. Arthur Miller portrayed the historical scene beautifully in Crucible. How Puritans, as other un-holy people have, carry their piece of peace, through deception. That they would rather kill innocent people to stray the glaring eye of truth from their own by pinning the blame on the red-faced devil. Man cannot help himself but shy away from the truth. Perhaps it is the only way to maintain peace. And since we create illusions all the time, peace should be around for twenty-four hours, so no big deal, right? Peace can do spectacular things, but only when the truth is out too. The quote raises an important question for ourselves. Have we learned anything from history? From the innocent dead? From Proctor? Miller questions man and their faithfulness to the lonely wife of truth, and their affairs with the alluring mistress. Intriguing lines, such as the one discussed, is what completed the Crucible.