Human Emotional Reactions in Arthur Miller’s Novel ‘The Crucible’
Studies have shown that emotional reactions are almost impossible to ignore; it is almost as if it is automatic, when stressed, or pressured, humans naturally have a negative reaction, therefore, they lash out and get angry or frustrated. In Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ times of social repression bring out the worst in humans, this is demonstrated through the pressure and tests the characters are put under, their actions, as well as the outcomes. Miller argues in his novel that this was in fact a time of repression seeing as people were wielding the accusation to vent their frustrations, this is can be seen through the character of Thomas Putnam.
Firstly, it is quite clear that Putnam is a wealthy and greedy man, as it is stated in the book. “ Thomas Putnam was the eldest son of the richest man in the village.” (Miller, 15) He uses the trials and accuses others during this time only to attain wealth and have vengeance on his neighbours by buying their land. In act three of the novel, Giles Corey states that “Thomas Putnam is reaching out for land.” (84) He states that he had heard an ‘honest man’ say that Putnam encouraged his daughter to ‘cry witch’ so that he would be able to obtain the land he believes is rightfully his. This being said, Thomas uses the frustration of the unfairness of his grandfathers will to wrongfully blame others of witchcraft. Secondly, the greed and envy has brought out the vile inside of him, he angers and threatens Giles so much that Giles wants to kill him, leading Giles to his death. (Giles) “ If Jacobs hangs for witch he forfeit up his property – that’s the law! And there is none but Putnam with the coin to buy so great a piece. This man is killing his neighbours for land!” (Danforth) “But proof, sir proof…” “ (Emphatically) The proof is there! – I have it from an honest man who heard Putnam say it! The day his daughter cried out on Jacobs, he said she’d given him a fair gift of land.” “Danforth is a grave man in his sixties, of some humour, and sophistication, that does not however, interfere with an exact loyalty to his position and his cause.”
The infamous Danforth is not introduced until Act three, we immediately know what kind of person he is and how egocentric he can be. “Do you know who I am, Mr. Nurse?” Readers get the sense that Danforth believes that only he matters, and that he believes only he has all the answers to their problems, he behaves with pride and arrogance and nothing but. For example in act three of the play, he asks Giles Corey this question: “ Do you take it upon yourself to determine what this court shall believe and what this court shall set aside?” (85) suggesting that Giles does not have the authority or power to make decisions in court, which ultimately silences him. Danforth’s worst side comes to show when he fears others will question his power and his authority in court, he says: “ Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve, or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now. While I speak God’s law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering. 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.” Danforth would rather hang the lives of innocent people rather than bruise his ego, he is put under pressure when he must decide between admitting a mistake and killing seven people, he goes with the latter.
Finally, the character of Abigail Williams, the cause of the witch trials, she holds most of the responsibility for the outcomes of the play and the lives that were ended. She hopes for nothing but the love and affection of John Proctor, she is the epitome of what a Puritan woman should not be. When Parris discovers her and the other girls in the woods alongside Tituba, he questions her, she covers up the truth as she does not want her affair with Proctor to be discovered. This anger towards Goody Proctor is shown when she accuses her of witchcraft, she is embarrassed that Proctor no longer has feelings for her and rejects her. “ She thinks to dance with me on my wife’s grave! And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a whore’s vengeance, and you must see it now.” (102) The pressure of John Proctor’s appreciation almost causes Elizabeth her life, Abigail’s bad side is known from the very first act in the novel, when she threatens the group of girls of what they should and should not say. It is also evident in the very last act of the play as she steals her uncle’s money and runs, not knowing she it her fault John Proctor is dead.
The playwright, Arthur Miller, shows in many instances in his novel, that times of societal constraint causes the worst in humans to come out, as mentioned, this is shown through a variety of characters, the circumstances they had been put under, their actions and which lead to the death of 20 people. It has been said that there is a way to not lash out when under pressure, to stay calm and under control, to not let emotions get in the way and cloud our judgement. To do this, feeling safe and secure is necessary, but first one must create positive thoughts, if only the characters in the play had put positive thoughts into their heads rather than envy, greed, or pride, the deaths could have very well been avoided. Learning to put things into perspective is key, build self-esteem, avoid negative people, and finally, learn how to be grateful. Being grateful can not only reduce stress but it also creates a better mood as well as leaving someone feeling physically and mentally healthier.
Exploration of Social Injustice in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Salem, Massachusetts 1692, faced a bizarre incident where number of girls begin to display strange behaviors of uncontrollable fits and even curling up their bodies into weird positions and this rose a lot of suspicion in Salem. Under pressure to explain their peculiar behavior, fearing to be called witches, the girls blamed three women for afflicting them and this began the famous Salem witch hunt and trials and Miller uses this as a development in his play, The Crucible.
The social injustice during 1692 was caused by a horrible incident of foul gossip which cost the lives of twenty people and more than two hundred people being accused of witchcraft before common sense prevailed years after the tragic deaths. The accusations made by the individuals of Salem which were based on spectral evidence and “the absurd claims of affliction by supernatural forces,” easily led to injustice. Injustice begins to prevail as the authorities allowed an array of hearsay evidence, foul gossip and even spectral evidence to build up a case for verdict. These kind of evidence presented in a court such as Salem, would be dismissed without even a second thought in a court of today. The evidence presented in court only led to more executions and nothing could be done to stop them. The miscarriage of justice of the Salem trials inspired Arthur Miller to use the issue of social injustice in The Crucible as he focuses on the unjust justice portrayed in Salem 1692.
In The Crucible, Miller presents a societal issue which is injustice, as many individuals were accused of a crime they did not commit. It can be pointed out that there are various different approaches to be considered when looking at the social injustice in The Crucible. This essay will focus on the of social injustice in the play as Arthur Miller presents it as a key aspect in the development of his play hence the research question, “How does Arthur Miller explore social injustice in his play, The Crucible?”. This research question is worthy of investigation as this essay will offer a different approach to social injustice to existing ones as the pre-existing do not explore social injustice to a greater degree. To achieve this, different approaches will be considered as Miller explores social injustice through the justice system, characterization and his choice of language and style.
The justice system Miller manages to explore social injustice through the presentation of the justice system in The Crucible. Pre-existing interpretations of the justice system have been interpreted by various literary scholars such as Sammi D. According to him, he states that “fear warped the justice system in Salem, so justice was corrupted” hence the emergence of social injustice. In the play, the individuals of Salem developed a system where the Church and state were treated as one. This justice system held strong beliefs and used the same laws of the church and state to judge. Its “function was to keep the community together and to prevent any kind of disunity that might open it to destruction.” When the rumors of witchcraft surfaced Salem, the individuals found it necessary to involve the state to pass on judgment. It can be pointed out that, Deputy Governor Danforth and Judge Hathorne were both officiates of the court hearings and the community saw it as a right for them to pass across verdicts for the ‘law’ of God was used to pass across judgment. A factor to consider is that the dominant ideology that this justice system held is that any attempt or suspicion to threaten or question the state was considered to be an attempt to overthrow the court and since it was one with the church, it was also considered as an attempt to overthrow God. This is seen in act three when Deputy Governor Danforth states that “A person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between.” This demonstration shows the fear of a man who feels that there is some form of attack upon the court as Reverend Parris states that Francis Nurse protection of witnesses “is a clear attack upon the court.”
The Salem court fuelled by such beliefs often falls into injustice. This is seen when an unfair judgement is passed across to Giles Corey as he is held for contempt of the court for refusing to confess the name of the honest person who heard Mr. Putnam tell someone that he prompted his daughter to cry witchery upon Mr. Jacobs. This reluctance by Giles was seen as disrespect to the court and so they found it in all ways necessary to punish him for it by placing “great stones upon his chest until he died.” Miller shows how the unjust justice system and their beliefs cause injustice to prevail in the play. The effect of this injustice is felt in this situation as the systems’ dominant ideology is allowed to change the course of justice. In the same way, Miller shows how their beliefs led to unfair executions. Characterization Miller manages to demonstrate social injustice through his portrayal and development of his characters in the play. Thomas Putnam’s greed caused injustice to prevail in The Crucible.
In Act three, Giles Corey an “83 year old farmer” presents a deposition accusing Mr. Putnam of “killing his neighbors for that land.” With the intention to grab land from George Jacobs, Mr. Putnam prompts his daughter to cry witchery upon him. His greed therefore encourages him to use the heightening hysteria in Salem to his advantage in order to forfeit up land from George Jacobs but at a reduced price. Mr. Putnam’s aim was to grab land because “if Jacobs hangs for witch, he forfeits up his property and that’s the law.” The effect of this led to an unfair judgment passed across on George Jacobs as he could not defend himself or even lie to save himself. This is because the claim made against his name was based on intangible evidence therefore, he did not have the capability to bring up any counter claims and as a result, this led to his hanging.
Another point to consider is that hysteria is seen to change the course of injustice in The Crucible in this situation as Mr. Putnam’s desire for land managed to cost the lives of other individuals. On the other hand, Ann Putnam’s jealousy caused injustice to prevail in The Crucible. Mrs. Putnam faces an inner conflict within herself as she has lost seven of her babies during childbirth. She therefore finds it necessary to have someone or something to blame for the deaths of her children. With such an idea implanted in ones’ mind, one would therefore be motivated to look for all means possible in order to have comfort that indeed someone may be the cause of an unfortunate event in their lives. This often leads to injustice, as accusations stated may be false. In The Crucible, Rebecca Nurse and Ann Putnam face conflict between each other as Mrs. Putnam is jealous of Rebecca’s eleven children. Grief pushes Mrs. Putnam to accuse Rebecca “for the marvelous and supernatural murder of Goody Putnam’s babies.” This accusation was purely based on an assumption created by a woman who wanted to have someone to blame for the mysterious deaths of her babies and so found it necessary to fabricate a false accusation. This accusation led to the unfair hanging on Rebecca Nurse and it can be pointed out that the justice system is unjust as Mrs. Putnam did not even present any evidence to the court, yet they seemed to believe her. The effect of this reveals how greatly jealousy can burst into anger and blame.
The social injustice in the play can also be said to be fuelled by hysteria as it plays a role on the logic of Mrs. Putnam as she thinks irrationally with the intention to strike her enemy, Rebecca, out. Tituba’s fear of being identified as a witch caused injustice to prevail in The Crucible, as she mostly targets individuals from the lower class and unknown individuals in Salem. Towards the end of Act one, Tituba accuses Sarah Good, an old and poor woman who sleeps in ditches of being an agent of the devil. She states that “He come one stormy night to me and he say ‘Look! I have white people belong to me.’ And I look and there was Goody Good.” This illustration shows the triumph of Tituba’s audacity to accuse a white woman, as much as Sarah Good is poor. Miller shows how Tituba’s fear made her choose to target a woman who Salem already suspected that “she sometimes made a compact with Lucifer and wrote her name in his black book and bound herself to torment Christians till God is thrown down.” Walking with a reputation like this in Salem only made it easy for Tituba to target Sarah Good for accusation and since she was poor and had no business with the Church, Tituba’s accusation was viewed as believable. Injustice is felt as Tituba’s false confession made her seem less guilty and drove away the attention from the accusation of witchcraft and yet, she was mainly the central beginning of the practice. In the same way, Goody Osburn, another poor homeless woman, also falls victim of the accusations, like Goody Good, she is not a popular individual in Salem and therefore becomes another easy target for Tituba to accuse. When Goody Osburn is questioned in court, she is asked to recite the Ten Commandments as proof that she indeed was religious. Unfortunately, she is unable to recite the commandments and this was seen as proof to the court that she indeed also associates with the devil and thus confirming Tituba’s accusation of Goody Osburn being an agent of the devil. This shows that if one was not well conversant with the Bible, they were easily associated with deviating from God and therefore communing with the devil. The fact that the court used the Bible as a basis to pass across judgment, only leads to unfair judgment/injustice as her failure to recite the commandments made her seem guilty leading to her execution.
According to Sophie Telfer, a literary scholar, she approaches social injustice in the play through the analysis of the characters and mainly looks at Abigail Williams’s power, as she states that “her power could convince anyone that she was right because she was feared.” Abigail Williams’ resentment and vengeance caused injustice to prevail in The Crucible as Proctor states that her “common vengeance writes the law”. Abigail who had worked for the Proctors before, seeks vengeance against Elizabeth for firing her. As a result, Abigail plots a dramatic fall during dinner and screams out that Elizabeth’s familiar spirit had pushed a needle inside her and was trying to kill her. The apparent evidence was the poppet with a needle that was found in Elizabeth’s house. As a result of this, Elizabeth is jailed for a crime she never committed. Tituba on the other hand faces accusation from Abigail as she is seen as an easy target for accusations of witchcraft in the community of Salem. Being a very religious society, they found it hard to accept strangers like Tituba with her own Barbados beliefs. Abigail Williams confesses, “I never called him! Tituba, Tituba. I know not-she spoke Barbados.” The effect of this confession shows how their beliefs overruled their thought process and because of Tituba’s background, she is easily associated with the witchcraft for it made her appear as an easy target for Abigail to accuse since Tituba had her own Barbados beliefs of the supernatural world. Furthermore, the repercussion for witchcrafts is hanging and this illustration is shown from the play when Putnam says “This woman must be hanged!” and out of fear of being hanged Tituba admits “No no, don’t hang Tituba! I tell him I don’t desire to work for him sir.” As a result of this, the effect of this fear strikes Tituba as she falsely accuses Goody Good and Osburn which leads to unfair judgment passed across on both of them. Miller manages to show how the vindictive nature of minor characters such as Walcott caused social injustice to prevail.
In act two, Giles’ wife Martha faces accusation from Walcott. Giles mentions “Y’see he buy a pig of my wife four or five years ago and the pig died soon after. So he comes dancin’ in for his money back. Now he goes to court and claims that from that day to this, he cannot keep a pig alive for more than four weeks because my Martha bewitches them with her books.” This demonstration shows an individual ready to do anything in their favor to settle old scores. Mr. Walcott’s intention is to revenge through a false accusation in order to get his money back and see Martha suffer due to selling him a pig that soon dies after. This unfair accusation meted on Martha Corey questions the justice system as such an accusation can be looked at from an angle of one not taking care of the pig. This is ironic as educated men like Danforth display a lack of common sense as they could not seem to see that there could be many causes leading to the death of an animal because they were so blindly convinced that the source of the death of the pigs could only be because of witchcraft. The effect of their blinded judgment leads to injustice as they allow such an accusation to change their perspective of normal natural deaths to suspicions of witchcraft.
Most characters in The Crucible changed the course of justice mainly due to selfish reasons. However, Miller shows a case where one character tries to prevent the false accusations from continuing to cost the lives of more individuals in Salem. Through this act, we see Proctor as an honest man despite his rebellious acts in Salem. The injustice in Salem facilitates a change in Proctor as he transforms from a man who so much hides his sins in order to save his reputation to a man who now comfortably allows public shame rather than to have his wife’s name attached to slander. This is seen in Act three when he confesses “Oh, Francis, I wish you had some evil in you that you might know me. A man will not cast away his good name. You surely know that.” This reveals his courageous nature however leading to his execution for a crime he did not commit for he only wants to save the innocents who were falsely accused and prevent injustice from prevailing.
Choice of language
In his choice of language, Miller employs irony to satirize the ills in the Salem community of 1600s that are brought about by the social injustice. The irony throughout the play brings to light a situation where the actual situation of the series of confessions is quite different from what should have been expected to happen. Irony stands out from the fact that the children accusing the innocent seem to be having control over who is declared guilty or innocent yet no one seems to notice their true intentions. This is ironical because the children are controlling the mind-sets of educated adults yet they are supposed to be in power and making decisions and not easily swayed by false evidence and accusations. Their power in Salem is felt as proctor declares that “now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom.” Miller presents a case of a stereotypical society in that the children are viewed as innocent as authority figures believe that they are telling the truth because they are only children. The effect of this leads to the authority figures being blinded by the truth and this therefore leads to injustice in the trials.
On the other hand, Miller uses exclamation marks at the end of every Act. This is seen at the end of Act one as it ends with “I saw Goody Booth with the Devil!” In Act two the scene ends with “God’s icy wind, will blow!” Furthermore, Act three ends with “Mr. Hale! Mr. Hale!” and finally, Act four ends with “God forbid I take it from him.” The essence of Miller using the exclamation marks is show how the tension rises and hence the social injustice rises because at the end of every Act, accusation heighten based on false evidence leading to unfair judgment passed across on the innocent. Lastly, Miller’s choice of language of using irony to bring out satire shows the façade in ‘religious’ figures such as Danforth. This is because he uses the Bible’s commandments as a basis to pass across judgment yet he does seem to see that the girls are breaking the commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” The effect of this shows how the children’s projection of their guilt onto the innocent, plays a major role as unjust justice meted on the accused is perpetrated by judges who are supposedly reputable and were manipulated into depending the fate of the accused based on hysterically falsified driven evidence from children and the lower class individuals such as Tituba to hang and imprison the accused. This just shows how much the authorities in charge depended so much on the children to make the next move.
In conclusion, Miller successfully explores the social injustice in his play, The Crucible as he uses the justice system, characterization and his choice of language, to show how of each of the methods he uses was able to bring out social injustice to light. The development of this essay has taught that the characters in the play managed to change the course of justice as many innocent individuals were judged unfairly. Additionally, this essay managed to show how the true inner self’s of characters in the play caused social injustice to prevail as it seen that many individuals hid their true intentions and used the outburst of hysteria to publicly display who they are. Furthermore, this essay has taught that the justice systems’ dominant ideology fuelled social injustice as they so much thrived to protect the court system instead of the people. Finally, Miller manages to show how his choice of language managed to satirize the ills in the Salem community of 1600s that are brought about by the social injustice in The Crucible.
“The Crucible” by Arthur Miller and “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The readings of “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller and “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the pieces of literature are initially set in a time period in early America, both bring about two characters that seemingly share a similar situation, views, and behaviors that deeply affects their feelings, and emotions that relentlessly purge them in their overall fate, decisions, and final destiny in their lives.
Upon blatant reviewing, both books, review the themes of sin, punishment, evil, and how these ideas not only affect their lives but, of everyone else they know and love. These characters also committed the same crime, which is known as adultery, this crime, at the time being, was in both scenarios, deeply looked down upon, that in both communities, Hester Prynne, as she’s identified, is held accountable by wearing a scarlet “A” (Hawthorne 6) and the other one, John Proctor, is victimized of having relations with a woman, Abigail Williams whose made an infamous reputation, for its pact with an evil force. Next, as we can infer from further analyzing each novel, both characters share a trait of guilt, and how they attempt to redeem themselves. For the most part, Hester understands the guilt in carrying the letter on every one of her garments, and doesn’t confess the father’s name, instead not only does she refuse for consideration of Dimmesdale’s position as a priest, she even replies “Never … I will not speak ..” (Chapter 3, pg 98) Similarly, John puts down his reputation to stop the trial, and save his beloved family.“ Excellency, forgive me, forgive me…. She thinks to dance with me on my wife’s grave! And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. (Act 3, pg 102)
To contrast, we can infer within both novels, that in Hester’s novel, there’s a more gradual increment within the plot, as it reaches the climax of the novel, whereas, in Proctor’s case, the awe in the novel comes during Proctor’s trial, where he puts down his reputation for his family. Not only does the novel turn at that point, but, it also bewilders and dumbfounds others like Danforth. “In—in what time? In what place? … his voice about to break, and his shame great: In the proper place—where my beasts are bedded. On the last night of my joy, some eight months past. She used to serve me in my house, sir…” (Act 3, pg 102)
Ultimately, the future fate of both characters would be death itself. Nonetheless, both characters have shown an enduring loyalty towards their loved ones, which not only tells us the reader, a quality they share, but also, an effort they’ve made to try and redeem themselves, even if perhaps their course of action wasn’t a correct one, it is quite an admirable trait on their behalf, considering that their course of action could’ve gone differently, and that they would’ve let their ego take control and put others who are innocent, in danger.
Mob Mentality in “Year Of Wonders” And “The Crucible”
Mob mentality is a common cause of yielding to social pressures or norms, meaning that individual behavior and decision making can be influenced by the presence of others.
Miller constructs an image of Salem, Massachusetts perched on the edge of the dark and barbaric unknown with the looming forest on one side, which was filled with menacing “Indians” waiting to strike, and the stormy, cold Atlantic sea on the other side. This obvious segregation from other areas causes lack of other opinions within the area and influence only from the people in their social setting. Through this Miller carefully foregrounds through this foreboding setting a central concern in the play, being that people believe that their best chance of survival is what they know, and referring to mob mentality, what other people think. This is seen through a quote in Miller foreword being “in unity still lay the best promise of safety”, suggesting that “unity” within this context can be seen as conformity and demonstration of the dangerous mob mentality that will soon occur in Salem. Due to this mob mentality may occur as they do not have very much influence from other people or sources. What they hear is what they think. This is also the same within the Year of wonders in Eyam, in which they are living in a place influenced by only people of their own thoughts. Eyam made the decision to voluntary quarantine itself after its outbreak of the plague meaning that at this time it also was in a state of isolation, and all the crisis occurred within this central area. Likewise to The Crucible, Brooks demonstrated through this use of setting that the lack of communication in areas causes people to act irrationally, suggesting why people acted out in accusations. What was once a tight-knit community is now paranoid and insane, with people accusing each other of dabbling in “witchcraft” and “spells” on a daily basis. This paranoid mob mentality can be seen in both texts to be a sign of what isolation in a physical setting may do to people, although the settings are not entirely that same. These settings do have a place of contrast, suggesting as to why escape from these settings occurs differently in both texts. Although they are both isolated, Anna in Year of Wonders still manages to escape the overwhelming mob physically, as Eyam is not surrounded by threats such as Indians in Salem. John Proctor and Elizabeth did not give into the mob mentality mentally, but were ultimately unable to escape due to lack of any chance of removing themselves from the situation.
The portrayed religious setting in the text suggests being one of the sources of the mob mentality. Both Year of wonders and the Crucible are set during eras where religion dominated within peoples lives, and strong Puritan ideals are evident in both texts. This is also highly influenced by leaders within both texts, in which their religious beliefs and ideals are usually followed by the rest of their respective towns. Salem in The Crucible is seen as a highly Puritan community, which creates a restrictive environment for its people. Due to the churches control over the community and Reverend Parris’ insecure leadership, tension and occurrence of mob mentality is present. Originally he denies the claim of witchcraft, but then entirely fuels the situation and the town along with it. As religion is such an important part in people’s lives during this era, they are repressed to believe what religious figures believe such as Parris. However within Year of Wonders Mompellion’s strong leadership and stereotype breaking puritan values keep Eyam from falling into a complete state of insanity during the outbreak of the plague. Physically the sense of hope, through images of richness and Spring, Brooks has suggested a greater anticipation in the belief that mob mentality will be overcame. The use of this imagery can be explained by the changes of religious mindset at the time and the hope that “old-fashioned” Puritan values are being pushed out to welcome more open-minded religion. Mompellion is a demonstration of these new values which he held during Eyam’s isolation, and can be seen through his intention to discourage the use of stocks in the town, in which Anna states that “even Reverend Stanley seldom called for sinners to be stocked, and Mr. Mompellion had actively discouraged it”. Through this it is seen that Brooks intended to display an open religious character, in order to display that this type of person may cause mob mentality to decease. Although Mompellion is a flawed character, his motives still lie within good for his people. Mompellion is focused on God’s love, not the fundamental principles of religion like Parris, which displays an insight into the ultimate outcomes of mob mentality and the difference in hope that the texts display.
Along with these physical settings, social setting within the plays and way people react in these settings also plays a part in joining in with mob mentality. Throughout both the texts gossip thrives within the town, and creates an environment within the social realms. In the Crucible, the results of this gossip results in many unthinkable acts, which the reader seems to be motived by personal gain. Through the girls following Abigail in the accusations trials it can be seen as an act of mob mentality. Abigail instills fear into the girls by stating she will bring them a “pointy reckoning” if they go against her claims. Through this it is seen that fear is a part of a need to join along in these situations, which the people feel as though they want to keep their own reputation rather than speak their mind. This gossip and accusations causes characters in the text to carry out irrational mob minded decisions, although some characters still remain abundant to this. In the crucible, John Proctor remains with a steady head relating to the trails and accusations, and attempts to mend his own sins through confessing adultery. Use of a flawed “hero” like Proctor was used by Miller to suggest the importance of standing to ones morals in a pack driven situation, allegorically being the cold war. Like the Crucible, Year of Wonders also displays an ugly side to society. These horrible actions are displayed within the mob attack on Mem and Anys Gowdie, where “Cries of ‘whore’ and ‘jade’ and ‘fornicator’ were coming now from every twisted mouth, as the mob surged at Anys where she knelt beside her aunt, leaping upon her and clawing at her flesh.” The use of these mob attacks suggests the extent of disgrace that not having one’s own mind can cause.
Comparison of the Role of Satan in The Crucible and The Devil and Tom Walker
Texts from many different eras have attempted to comment on and advance different themes, especially from the colonial era. Two of these texts are “The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving, and The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Both of these works attempt to describe the role of Satan in the lives of the people from colonial times, and how these people they were affected by belief in Satan. In The Crucible, a witch scare spreads throughout the town of Salem, believed to have been caused by the Devil, resulting in the death of 19 people. In “The Devil and Tom Walker”, Tom Walker makes a deal with the Devil, resulting in him destroying the lives of people who come to him for help. In the end, having everything he had worked towards disappear. The Crucible and “The Devil and Tom Walker” both comment on Satan’s rise and how the “invisible world” both negatively and positively impacted the people of the colonial era.
“The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving advanced the theme of Satan, causing many different effects. One of the effects was allowing people to use the idea of Satan as an excuse. During the Colonial era, many powerful people were attacked and it was stated that they had a pact with the devil. This caused speculation throughout the villages they lived in, sometimes ending in the death or imprisonment of these once important figures. “The Devil and Tom Walker” showed someone who had power, being the cause of everyone’s hardships because of his greed and how he was in a league with the devil. The fact that in stories like “The Devil and Tom Walker,” the Devil was the cause of all issues, allowing the Devil to later be used as the causes for anyone’s problems. Another way “The Devil and Tom Walker” promoted the theme of the “invisible world” was by commenting on the lengths people went for a possibility to get what the Devil could provide, and commented on the greed inside people. Tom Walker’s wife went through her house and grabbed everything she had that was valuable and went to the Devil in an attempt to make herself even more wealthy. This was Irving commenting on people’s greed, and how when presented the opportunity to become even wealthier, one will take risk their current wealth, and even their soul with the case if the Devil, for said opportunity.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller commented on how the people of the past viewed the Devil. During the witch scare in Salem, many of the accused witches eventually confessed to having a relationship with the Devil, where he provided something the accused witch would want, in exchange for being a witch and doing the Devil’s bidding. Peoples extreme Puritan beliefs from that time caused them to view any small abnormal thing such as dancing as witchcraft, making for a large number of accusations. The Puritan beliefs during this time also called for fear of the Devil, and for people to report any sign of the Devil so the people affected could be cleansed of their sins by God. People’s fear in the Devil also allowed for some people to advantage of this, allowing them to settle disputes or arguments by calling the other person involved a witch and providing false testimony. In the case of “The Crucible,” Abigail uses her newfound power of being able to call people witches, to call out John Proctor’s wife as a witch, most likely so that she can take her place. Another way The Crucible comments on Satans rise is by highlighting how Satan was so feared, evidence of him could be taken in court seriously. During Colonial times, people had such large Puritan beliefs that people could say and act out as so they were being affected by Satan and this would be taken as serious evidence in the court of law against the accused witch. An example of this was Abigail saying she was being pinched, choked, attacked, and even pierced by needle by some of the witches on trial.
Texts such as The Crucible and “The Devil and Tom Walker” both comment on the rise of Satan during colonial times. These works attempt to take a closer look on how literature using Satan as a topic affected people’s lives. The Crucible commented on how people’s extreme Puritan beliefs made people see the simplest things as signs of Satan, and this extreme belief provided an opportunity for people to take advantage of it. “The Devil and Tom Walker” showed how people would look upon Satan and the “invisible world” as a scapegoat for their problems, and people fully accepted this explanation. Works of literature such as “The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving and The Crucible by Arthur Miller both attempted to comment on how the rise of Satan affected the people who lived during the colonial era.
The Crucible and The Scarlet Letter: an Analysis of Redemption in Both Novels
Redemption. It’s such an ambiguous concept, yet also something that so many people strive for. But what exactly is “redemption?” Can anyone ever truly be redeemed? And if so, how? These are essential questions that playwright Arthur Miller and author Nathaniel Hawthorne set out to address in their respective works – Miller’s 1953 play The Crucible and Hawthorne’s 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter. Although over a century separates their writing, these two works, both set in the Puritan New England of the early American colonial period, share many of the same themes and messages. Both The Crucible and The Scarlet Letter prominently feature downtrodden, victimized individuals who, in their own, unique ways, each find redemption by the end of their journey and, through this, find peace within themselves. This theme of redemption is one of the things that binds these two seemingly unrelated works together, and Miller and Hawthorne show the world that redemption is never out of reach.
Over the course of The Crucible, John Proctor emerges as one of the most dominant and significant characters of the play. Far from a mere farmer or supporting character, he comes to represent so much more through his actions and has a profound effect on the events and outcomes of the play. Proctor, though pressured to confess to performing witchcraft and thus save himself from hanging, tears up his confession after learning that it will be used to persuade others to falsely confess, choosing death over the renouncement of his convictions and moral beliefs. Rather than allow himself to be carried on the misguided judgements of the Salem courts, Proctor “stands at the end on the judgement of the only tribunal he acknowledges: his own conscience” (Schoenberg and Trudeau). Through this last act of defiance and courage, Proctor truly finds his own personal redemption, even after his earlier inaction and the harm that he has caused, either directly or indirectly. As Thomas E. Porter writes in “The Long Shadow of the Law: The Crucible,” John Proctor “goes to his death purged of guilt and seeing meaning in his sacrifice.” By choosing to literally tear up his confession – and thus make his own death all but certain – Proctor and his own conscience emerge victorious over the judgement of the outside world (Schoenberg and Trudeau). Through this, Proctor finally achieves the redemption that he sought, and as June Schlueter and James Flanagan argue, Proctor, through his redemption, is “one of the few who survive the crucible” (Schoenberg and Trudeau).
Similarly, in The Scarlet Letter, Hester and Dimmesdale each find themselves seeking their own personal redemption. Hester must cope with the initial public shaming, and ridicule that comes with her actions and her scarlet letter “A,” while Dimmesdale suffers through his own torture. Dimmesdale’s suffering, though, comes not from the outside world but from within himself, as he is torn apart by guilt and inner conflict over his affair with Hester. But by the end of the novel, Hester and Dimmesdale each manage to redeem themselves in their own way. Hester’s response to the ridicule and scorn directed at her is to simply “bear the consequences of her transgression with quiet dignity” (Bomarito and Whitaker). Instead of retreating into herself or letting the hatred get to her, Hester goes out and helps the community – she cares for the poor and elderly and does other good deeds around the town. As a result, the stigma around her is gradually lifted, until the scarlet letter on her chest bears none of its original negative connotations. “Hester’s good deeds eventually transform the meaning of the “A” in the view of the townspeople, who claim that it stands for “angel” or “able,” rather than “adulterer” (Bomarito and Whitaker). Dimmesdale’s story concludes in his own fiery act of redemption, as, as his last act, he finally admits his adultery to his parishioners before collapsing in Hester’s arms, finally triumphing over and freeing himself of his inner torment and anguish.
Through each of these characters’ stories, Miller and Hawthorne illustrate the many forms that redemption takes in peoples’ lives. As the individual stories of John Proctor, Hester Prynne, and Arthur Dimmesdale are woven in their respective works, they each struggle to redeem themselves, both in their own eyes and the eyes of their communities, and a greater story of this long and often difficult journey to this redemption takes shape. Without a doubt, these works and their lessons will survive through the ages, as will the never-ending human quest for redemption.
Evaluation of the Effects of Group Hysteria as Illustrated in Arthur Miller’s Play, The Crucible
Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible was written to show what happens when people fall to mass hysteria, such as the case with witchcraft throughout the entire story. The play’s plot generally revolves around innocent people who are accused of something that they haven’t done, and are prosecuted because of it. People get their land taken away, and at the very worst get hanged or even crushed to death by giant stones, just like what happened to Giles Corey in the story. There are not many sweet and generous people throughout the story, as a matter of fact, I can only think of one on the top of my head, and that’s Rebecca Nurse. Rather, there are tons of people in the book who care more about their reputations than the people surrounding them. There is no exception for John Proctor. He is rightfully hanged at the end of the story for committing adultery with Abigail Williams.
John Proctor is a terrible person for many reasons. He lies when people accuse him of his wrongdoings, even including his own wife, denies any connection he has between himself and Abigail Williams, is very mentally ill and tormented to say the least, and doesn’t care one bit about the people around him. Even though Proctor is a very miserable and weak minded human being, in the end, he is human, and that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have human emotions and feelings for others. Proctor has a secret longstanding relationship with Abigail Williams, which kind of qualifies as the town whore if you think about it. John Proctor committed adultery with Abigail, which if you did, you would get hanged for it. John continuously lied about his affair repeatedly to not only the court, but to his own wife, which pretty much makes him a Grade A scumbag. “My wife is innocent, except she know a whore when she see one.” (Miller 220). Proctor repeatedly admits that he believes keeping the affair from his wife and everyone else damaged God’s trust in him. If he thought that, why didn’t he just admit to the crime he committed back in Act I? It doesn’t really make much sense when you think about it.
Even though Proctor has many flaws and mistakes in him, he still cares for his family dearly. He is also a very hard and dedicated farmer, which is his main profession in the play. Proctor only strives to do right, but unfortunately, he did one of the most vile and nefarious crimes out there; cheating on his wife. And then he lied about it. Not a very good combination to put together…
One of Proctor’s flaws throughout the entire play is his inability to admit to his sins. Time and time again he had the chance to just fess up and tell the court what happened, and he completely blew that opportunity right out of the water. Proctor can also come off as very blunt when he says “I say- I say- God is dead!” (Miller 226). Proctor also views himself as a man who refuses to slander his own name, breaking into a mental breakdown towards the end of the play when he pleas not to have his false confession nailed to the church door, which he thought as “selling his soul away to the devil”. “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” (Miller 240).
If you didn’t know already, John Proctor is the main protagonist of The Crucible, which means the story basically revolves around him and his events. Come to think of it, he barely does anything throughout the first two acts before playing a major role in Act III, where he admits to his affair with Abigail Williams. John Proctor does achieve one goal at the end of the story, and that is saving his good name.
Superstition On Salem in The Crucible
Superstitions in The Crucible made an impact on many people. Superstition excessively credulous belief in and reverence for supernatural beings. Arthur Miller expresses throughout The Crucible. This becomes a rumor of witchcraft that invades the small town of Salem, Massachusetts. In the puritan religion, the devil plays a very important role. The puritans believed that every bad decision made by someone was also made by the devil. Some of these sins included writing poems, listening to religious music, and watching or even performing in plays. The puritans thought this because it all brought focus away from God. It is not hard to see why the puritans believed in superstitions. Many characters were affected by this religion in many ways. In the play, Arthur Miller shows how superstition can lead to the destruction of a community. He showed us these superstitions through Ann Putnam, Reverend Hale, and Abigail Williams.
Ann Putnam is most consumed by the superstition because she already believed that something unnatural caused the deaths of her seven babies after they “shriveled in Goody Osborn hands” and it was her beliefs that started the events that happened in Salem. Ann believes that witchcraft killed her children, she exclaims, “You think it is God’s work you should never lose a child, nor grandchild either, and I have lost seven of my very own.” Ann was a major believer in superstitions because of all the bad things that happened to her family.
Crucible, as we know, means a situation of severe trial which in this context relates to the mental ability of the people of Salem to find out whether this witchcraft is real or just a hoax made up by some teenage girls, that did not want to commit their sins of dancing in the forest. There are many reasons why I claim this. On the cover page, there is a quote that says “The devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing fingers point.” And in John Proctor’s dialogue in Act lll he says “Excellency, does it not strike upon you that so many of these women have lived so long with such upright reputation.” Then Abigail Williams says “Lets either of you breathe a word about the other things, and I will bring reckoning that will shudder you.”The meaning of these quotes that I can prove is that the people of Salem, especially Abigail Williams, are using witchcraft to their advantage by accusing everyone and anyone that they dislike against them.
With these events happening, the people of Salem live in fear of “Am I the next one to get accused?” This is a result that made people hesitant towards each other and this affects society a lot. If we were to live in a town where people held grudges against each other and everyone suspected the other person of committing the act of witchcraft then even one single mistake would lead you to have a disastrous future as they might just blame you for witchcraft and you then can be taken to jail or even worse executed. Which is a good example of how superstitions can lead to a society going crazy. It says again “The devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing finger point.” This also is a good example because this quote in my perspective tries to state how the people of Salem should blindly follow the accusing fingers just because the devil is alive in Salem. This provides evidence on how superstition can lead to a society going crazy. If we look at John Proctor’s dialogue in Act lll on page 866 which says, “Excellency, does it not strike upon you that so many of these women have lived so long with such upright reputations.” So this gives us the insight on how blinded the people of Salem were that they failed to recognize their people and differentiate between good and evil. It also shows that people of Salem only see the lies and not the truth. So there not following what God believes and what he says in the Bible but the people of Salem are so blind sided by what’s going on they don’t know that what they are doing a sin.
McCarthyism and Its References in the Crucible: Historical Parallels and Outcomes
During the 1950s, Americans feared the concept of Communism. This is when the government has complete control over the economy. America was built on democracy and free-enterprise, while the Soviet Union based their country off of Communism. After World War II, China had its own civil war and fell into the Communist Party. This is referred to as the “red scare”. People feared that U.S. citizens were secretly part of the Communist Party. They questioned neighbors, politicians, celebrities, etc. Due to the growing fear, the House of Representatives Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) began investigating.
Throughout this time, Wisconsin Senator, Joseph McCarthy, was a power-hungry politician. He looked for an issue to make himself famous and found the perfect topic. On February 9, 1950, McCarthy made a list of 205 names who were “communist.” This gave him the platform he desired. He became the Chairman of the Senate Committee and instigated investigations. Celebrities were often targeted and blacklisted if they were associated. People referred to this as “McCarthyism.” It was around this time when playwright, Arthur Miller wrote his play, The Crucible, in 1953. In short, Salem residents are accused of witchcraft. Some deny the accusation, others confess. Nevertheless, many were hanged and shunned from the rest of the town. The parallels between these two moments in history are quite obvious. The hysteria, the blaming, and the sacrifice that took over both situations are some of the key factors as to why McCarthyism and The Crucible are similar.
In the summer of 1949, the Soviets expanded their control to most of eastern Europe, and China was on the verge of becoming a communist nation. Everybody in the United States became hysterical. Political Cartoonist, Herblock created a cartoon called “Fire.” It basically represents a man who is “hysteria” pouring water on to the fire of the torch that is held by the Statue of Liberty. The torch symbolizes the freedom for immigrants that entered the United States, but it also reminds Americans of their freedom. When the torch is put out, it eliminates freedom and power.
Hysteria is what causes many Americans to accuse their neighbors or celebrities. Just like in The Crucible, it is stated that Abigail is “talking to a bird” who has taken the shape of Mary Lewis. The tables started to turn against Abigail in Act III when Mary Warren began to testify against her. On page 114, Abigail begins to point and yell towards a beam. Everybody looks towards the direction and the group of young girls begins to follow along. Judge Danforth says, ” What is it, child? …What’s there?… She is transfixed… Girls! Why do you – ?” (Page 114). The group of girls turned their backs against Mary Warren. Everything Mary Warren says or does is mimicked. Like on page 115, Miller’s stage direction says, ” Abigail, now staring full front as though hypnotized and mimicking the exact tone of Mary Warren’s cry. Mary Warren, pleading: “Abby, you mustn’t!” Abigail and all the Girls, all transfixed: “Abby, you mustn’t! ” (Page 115). Now that the young girls have joined the act that Abigail is portraying, Mary Warren no longer has power in what she says due to the girls’ hysterical acts.
Elia Kazan was just one of Hollywood’s famous directors. On The Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire are just some of his infamous movies. In the years 1934-1936, Kazan was a member of the Communist Party. Sixteen years later, he was called by the HUAC to testify under oath. He initially refused to “name names” on January 14, 1952, but returned three months later because “the American people needed the facts … [and] aspects of Communism in order to deal with it wisely and effectively.”(Document A) This could be because people who refuse to give names were blacklisted. Meaning that they were denied employment because they would not cooperate with the HUAC. When Kazan returned, he named many people from his former Group Theatre. Most of the names he gave were already familiar to the HUAC, except Arthur Miller’s. Miller and Kazan were good friends until he named his name. Elia threw them under the bus in order to save himself. In The Crucible, Reverend Hale is begging Tituba to “give all their [witches] names.” Abigail is afraid that Tituba will give her name out, so she interrupts by saying, “I want to open myself! I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the devil; I saw him; I wrote in his book… I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!” Betty then wakes up and yells names who also were with the Devil. Everybody then sees Abigail as the brave young girl who broke the curse. Both Kazan and Abigail blamed others for their action in order to save themselves and their name.
Nobel Prize winner, Albert Einstein is one of the world’s best physicists in the world. He is most remembered for creating the atomic bomb during World War II. In 1953, A New York school teacher asked Einstein how he opposed the Congressional investigation that was occurring. Einstein’s response is simple, “Every intellectual who is called before one of the committees ought to refuse to testify. He must be prepared for jail and economic ruin, in short, for the sacrifice of his personal welfare in the interest of the cultural welfare of his country… [those who do not] deserve nothing better than the slavery which is intended for them’. He tells people to those who refuse to testify must be prepared for what will come. That giving up their careers is worth having rather than giving in to the games that their country is playing. Those who do testify deserve nothing, even though they thought they were helping their country. In Act IV, John Proctor and Elizabeth talk about their neighbor, Giles Corey. Corey was condemned for not giving names of “suspected witches.”, Elizabeth proceeds to say, “He would not answer aye or nay to his indictment; for if he denied the charge they’d hang him surely, and auction out his property. So he stands mute and died Christian under the law. His sons will have his farm. It is the law, for he could not be condemned a wizard without the indict, aye or nay.” Giles resisted the court because he knew that if he either admitted or denied the accusation, they would sell his land. So he stayed mute. Only saying the words, ” More weight.”
He sacrificed his life in order to make sure that his children get the property. In the end, The Crucible and McCarthyism have a lot of common. During both time periods, people became hysterical, they blamed others for their action or they snitched, and many people sacrificed their lives or their careers. Some may argue that these two moments in history are nothing similar, but without a doubt, there is concrete evidence that there is.
McCarthyism and the Crucible: Similarities That Matter
McCarthyism was spoken to as an in all cases fear of communism that made the US look for after superfluous assessment, confinements and as often as a possible unjustifiable act against the people who were simply remotely accused of being a ‘dreaded communist’, while the Salem witch preliminaries incited executions of ladies who were accused of practicing the devil’s work. Despite the fact that the two verifiable periods were parallel in their temperament and substance, the author, Arthur Miller, wrote the Crucible to show and tell everyone how everything was not right and to tell it in a way that he wouldn’t get caught exposing communism and the false accusations.
The purpose of the book was to decision out McCarthy’s actions. The melting pot and McCarthyism were each battery-powered by dread. Within the starting of the melting pot Abigail, a girl World Health Organization was infatuated with John Proctor started blaming girls for being connected with the devil by mistreatment necromancy. She expressed, “She made me do it! She made Betty do it! She makes me drink blood!” (Miller, 40-41). She blessed Tituba regarding necromancy like activity and it results in her death since she couldn’t content innocents. Throughout this point, the courts would merely reprimand you for being a chunk of necromancy and it absolutely was much tough to demonstrate your guiltlessness. Abigail continued to accuse people and soon created the dread within the city since they settled for she would accuse them next. Various people clad to be terribly conscious of their activities within the city since they feared being charged. McCarthy has been careful of the potential dangers nonetheless he took it too way. It absolutely was much tough to demonstrate your inculpableness. He created it, therefore, exhausting to demonstrate your honesty.
An account of the Salem witch trials and harassment, the assembly that was among the foremost wished spot during the time was wild associated had a lot excessive amount of intensity. Such as judge Harthorne, judges had extreme power; they brought in everyone that was accused by someone else and everybody was then placed on the path. One example of this is often Giles Corey. Giles would not value more highly to surrender the names of the folks that gave him his information, thus decide Danforth says, “You are a foolish old man.Mr.Cheever, begin the record. The court is now in session.” (Miller 90). But once put Giles on the spot doesn’t break him into giving any names, they tried to get it out of him by putting stones upon his chest but still doesn’t confess the names. One issue really similar could be the same regarding the U.S. throughout harassment, political leader secure he had a rundown of over 2 hundred folks among the state work that were communist and were legendary folks from the American communist gathering, it created America open emotional disturbance, it created panic. McCarthy caused hysteria by doing this.
Moreover, at these two times occasions, people were seen as accountable until showed guiltlessly. The charges that were made had no veritable reason, however, they were created for different reasons, land, cash, control, etc. On the record of the pot, it gives various phenomenal occasions of this one being Giles asserting Putnam is following individuals for their property. During the play, Giles says ‘If Jacob for a witch he forfeits up his property-that is the law! And there is none but Putnam with the coin to buy so great a piece. This man is killing his neighbors for their land” (Miller 89). Also, a huge goal is any person who seems, by all accounts, to be delicate, for instance, women, youths and the poor were the portion of the huge numbers of who McCarthy affected making them destitute and individuals he focused to pick up control.
Other many similarities that may be clearly discovered are that the pot and McCarthyism created the flexibility to destroy somebody’s life from an instantaneous allegation. The case of this will be awfully obvious within the mix. John Proctor may be a suspect of sharing within the wrongdoing of bad things. When the time comes to admit, he is aware that admitting will spare his body life, anyway at the comparable time it will destroy his name. He says, ‘Why must it be written? Why must I say it?’ (Miller 128,130). He is aware that his admission is meant onto the congregation divider for all to appear at. This will be the explanation and he at long last finally ends up ripping up the papers. Within the event that it was seen by anybody within the network John Proctor’s name would be destroyed to the explanation for anyplace he in all probability will not show himself near Salem. He on these lines picks ending over the embarrassment. A correspondence of this could be within the amount of McCarthyism. On the off likelihood that one was associated with McCarthy with being a communist, their lives were razed. This shows anyway those suspects of communism had their life alienated from them. Despite whether or not it’s a partner in nursing allegation of necromancy of communism, everyone has the pulverization of honest individuals’ lives.
Another example within the witch chases in Salem and McCarthy’s chase for many communists will likewise be engineered. Throughout all of the occasions, it’s remarkably determined that people visited the acknowledgment that each one the mania came at a rare price; a price that requires not to be paid. Within the Pot the person who 1st ends up in these gift circumstances acknowledgment id Reverend Hale. ‘Why, it is all simple. I come to do the devil’s work. I come to counsel Christians they should belie themselves.’ (Miller 121). That explains the regret and compassion that Hale began to condole with the honest people that have been detained thanks to the deceitful incriminations that were created by the wrongful people. during witch-hunt, varied people felt this regret and compassion toward people who were venally charged, but varied people were hesitant to tell their feelings and categorical regret they saw. Within each the Salem witch chases and therefore the counter communist development there’s a visible indication of compassion that inevitably prompted the end of every individual occasion.
After looking from the earliest starting point of time, it is critical to recollect events and see where society has reiterated their blunders. Two of these events that are turned around by one way or another or another, yet compactive in extra are the witch chases that happened in Salem during 1962 and the time of McCarthyism. The various likenesses between the two events are the way by which it influenced the lives of numerous people. The Crucible by Arthur Miller works commendably of making similitude between the two, discrete events.