Explore the abuse and misuse of power in Salem(“Crucible”)
The Crucible is largely concerned with the abuse and misuse of power in Salem. Discuss this with references to any three characters. In this essay I intend to explore the abuse and misuse of power in Salem with references to three characters. The three characters that I will refer to are Reverend Parris, Thomas Putnam and Abigail Williams. Reverend Parris is the pastor of the church in Salem. He is the father of Betty and the uncle of Abigail Williams. He believes that he is being persecuted and that the townspeople do not respect his position as a man of God.
Examples to support these claims are when Parris is asking about his wood, and arguing over his salary, he then goes to say “I am not used to this poverty;.. Why am I being persecuted here? ” Reverend Parris also believes there is a faction and a party in the church which makes him seem very paranoid about the people around him.
The towns people also do not respect him as a man of God because Proctor says “to hear him preach only hellfire and bloody damnation” about the services that are held in Salem where Parris preaches.
Many of the other towns people say that they ‘quail to bring their children’ because of the content of what is said during services. Parris is a materialistic and selfish person. He secures his desires in the town by preaching fire and brimstone until the people give in. An example of this is when he preached for twenty weeks until he got golden candlesticks instead of the pewter ones made by Francis Nurse. John Proctor says, “it hurt my prayer” for him to think that when he “look to heaven and see my money glaring at his elbows” because Parris demanded money ever since he became the pastor of Salem.
This is a misuse of power and a misuse of his status as a man of God. As a man of god Parris should be grateful for what the towns people have to offer and what they are prepared to give in to the Church as an act of charity. The townspeople have ousted the last few pastors and Parris fears that he may be next. He feels that he is constantly being persecuted wherever he goes despite his efforts to win people and God to his side. “There is either obedience or the church will burn like Hell is burning! ”
Parris tells to Proctor as he demands the deed to his house and preaches fire and brimstone regarding whatever he is after until he has it. It is only too easy for him to believe the girls because not to believe them would mean that the trouble would be in his own house. Betty and Abigail are his family and to have liars in his family will give him a bad name as he is a man of God and should have disciplined his daughter and niece to behave and do what they are told. He is more worried about his own reputation than his daughter’s health. If he cannot control his own household, he may not be trusted with an entire village.
He considers himself as being higher in society than every one else, and believes that people should ask his permission to shut a door. He looks down at children and treats them as lower class citizens and thinks they should be thankful for being permitted to “walk straight, eyes slightly lowered, arms at the sides, and mouth shut until bidden to speak. ” There is a large emphasis on purity in the lives of the people of Salem, they were not permitted to read a novel, only Bibles. They thought that theatre was a ‘vain enjoyment’ and there was not to be any Christmas celebrations.
All holidays of work was to be used to concentrate even more upon prayer. There is a lot of imagery of darkness and dirt representing sin and evil. Reverend Parris for example, questions his niece Abigail’s purity by saying; “Your name in the town-it is entirely white, is it not? ” She argues that her name is not soiled. The people of Salem are obsessed with preserving the perceived cleanliness of their souls. Parris is so obsessed with keeping his name ‘white’ that he hides the fact that he knows that the girls are only lying and he goes along with the girl’s childish games of accusation.
This is an example of misuse of power because Reverend Parris has the power to put a stop to the girls but to keep his name clean he pressures the girls to give more names. Thomas Putnam is a very vindictive man. He is the husband of Ann Putnam, and father to Ruth. He is a powerful man in the village with a long family line. He is the eldest son of the richest man in the village and regards himself to be the most intellectual superior of the people around him. He forces his way in whatever matters benefit him and becomes extremely bitter when he doesn’t succeed.
He became very bitter when he was turned down blatantly by the village people for one of its more important offices, as he was deeply interested in parish affairs. Mr and Mrs Putnam will not believe Rebecca Nurse when she says that is only a ‘silly season’ that the girls are going through. But then to compensate the Putnams blame Rebecca Nurse for the deaths of their children. Mrs Putnam then goes to say “There are wheels within wheels in this village, and fires within fires! ” meaning that there is more going on in the village that they know of and that the truth is being hidden.
Instead of accepting that they have problems of their own, the Putnams turn their anger towards the other villagers and accuse others. Putnam resents any one with more acreage than him and any one of a higher status. An example of his misuse of power is when he is accused of coercing his daughter to accuse people, for example, George Jacobs, in order to gain their forfeited land. Putnam is abusing his power and also his daughters power as she can accuse any one without being doubted of what she is saying is true. Abigail Williams is the orphaned niece of Reverend Parris.
She was once the lover of John Proctor but was turned out when his wife discovered the affair. She is extremely jealous of Elizabeth Proctor and uses her power in the town to rid herself of Elizabeth as well as any others who have insulted her in the past. Proctor tells to the men of the court in his last attempt to save his wife and prove the dishonesty of the girls “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. ”
He reveals Abigail’s motivation to see Elizabeth Proctor condemned: Abigail cannot let go of her obsession with Proctor. Elizabeth Proctor tells her husband that “Spoke or silent, a promise is surely made. ” explaining why Abigail would continue to pursue him though he had ended the affair. She tells him that by sleeping with her, he made a commitment to her, at least in her eyes. She is the leader of the girls. When the girls talk about admitting to dancing in the woods Abigail tells Betty and Mary Warren “I will bring a pointy reckoning” who initially express fear about their actions in the woods and express a desire to confess.
Abigail asserts her power over the girls immediately so as to ensure that she is not exposed. Abigail is a dissembler who is also ruthless and aggressive due to her horrifying child hood. Wen she was a child she saw Indians smash her parents’ heads on the pillow next to hers. This had had quite a large affect on the way she thinks and has made her more careless and free in the way she behaves. She then goes on to say ” I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you have never seen the sun go down. ” This scares the girls so much that they dare not speak a word of what they did in the woods.
She is also very manipulative and plays on people’s feelings to get what she wants. She makes herself seem concerned of the other girls health but she is only concerned in what she gets out of being good. She abused her power by convincing every one that Tituba, who is from Barbados, conjured the devil. As Tituba is black and from another country no body believes her and she gives in and admits to be conjuring the devil. The people of Salem and the majority of the people of that time were racist and thought of themselves as a higher class than black people; the same as Parris feels towards children.
Abigail gains revenge on the people in the village that she has hated or envied especially Elizabeth Proctor. Another example of Abigail’s misuse of power is when she deviously puts a needle into her stomach and into a doll’s stomach and accuses Elizabeth of putting it there. The story she made up fits in well with what happens because the placement of the needle is precise because Abigail saw Marry Warren make the doll and put the needle there for safe keeping. Every one in the room at that time believe Abigail, because she suddenly let out a loud scream and the people around wouldn’t think that she would do such a thing to herself.
Abigail also convinces the court that Marry Warren is lying when she admits to making the doll and putting the needle it the doll. Abigail then pretends to be cold and witched by Marry Warren because she tells the court that it was only pretence that the said they saw the devil and also saw others with the devil. The court believes Abigail as well because her skin is cold and she tells the court that she feels a cold breeze. There is a very large amount of misuse of power in Salem and the above is only a little.
The accused in Salem were essentially condemned before they went to trial. Those who decided to live by admitting to witchcraft were ostracized by society much as those thought to be communists were blacklisted. People as a group can get caught up in the moment and act in an irrational manner. The events in Salem are a solemn reminder of what can happen when we allow ourselves to be carried along with the crowd. We must think hard about how we can preserve our system of justice so as not to risk repeating such an awful moment in history.
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