The Crucible Essay, Research Paper
Three distinct social factions formed among the characters in The Crucible by the end of the first act. In terms of the trails, these groups consisted of the prosecutors, the judges, and the defendants. However, many other factors came in to play, extending the legal factions to cover distinct social groups. In fact, social standing is what bound the different sides of the case. The prosecutors were a group of women not yet twenty. These girls seem to have a history of spite and vengefulness. As is evident by the end of the book, these women also have a talent for acting. Abigail Williams was the ringleader of this group. In the time period that this story took place, women this age were powerless. These women found that by pretending to have been victimized by the Devil, they could have anyone persecuted with the point of a finger. Thus, the accusations concocted by these girls served to empower them as well as giving them an easy way of enacting revenge for the wrongs they felt they had been done. These women were manipulators and they had the judges wrapped around their fingers. Aside from the social disadvantages that these women had in common, they were held together by a friendship remnant from childhood. The judges were largely a group of self-righteous outsiders. In court they held the theory that a defendant was guilty until proven innocent. They claimed to be the ‘ultimate Christians.’ In turn, they took the liberty of judging the piety of the townspeople and persecuting those who failed the test. A sort of hierarchy was formed among the judges, at the top of which was Danforth, and at the bottom of which lay the priests. Danforth proved to be very naive and became a tool for the prosecutors. This group was held together by the belief that it was acting out God’s will.
The defendants were the tragedy of the play. Throughout the book, they were forced to prove their innocence as they were always presumed guilty. The townspeople (less those mentioned in the other groups) fell into this category. These were the people that people today would tend to associate with. Proctor symbolized these people’s fears: in the end of the story he was to be killed for a factitious crime. These people were held together by their common sense and decency. They were merely doing whatever they could to save themselves and their neighbors. Those who were accused of “contracting with the Devil” were forced to choose between their lives and their reputations (if they lied in court). Years of living together in peace as neighbors are what united this group. These groups continued to become more distinct while the ties among those in the groups become stronger. The three groups had very different outcomes at the end of the book. The prosecutors accomplished their goal of gaining a sense of power. The judges felt very self-righteous for the thought that they had defeated the Devil. The only losers were the defendants. From the beginning of the play, their goal was to return to their normal lives. This was not possible for any of them, for those who survived were scarred forever by the terrible injustices that took place in Salem.