The Crucible: Setting and Themes
The play The Crucible is set in Salem Massachusetts in the year 1692. The play is about a religious community persecuting innocent people under false pretences due to extreme paranoia. At the time Arthur Miller wrote the play it was during the period McCarthyism was occurring in America. This was when people were accused of being communist and in turn were hunted. Arthur Miller lived through the McCarthyism era and could not speak against it; otherwise he would have been accused of being communist.
Writing The Crucible was a way for Arthur Miller to protest against McCarthyism without himself being branded and hunted. In this essay I will focus on one of the main characters, John Proctor, who is persecuted, and his response to two ministers and their suspicion of his faith. Proctor is a character who is not afraid to follow his own beliefs, disowning the members of the society who all go along with one thing although maybe not believing it is right.
Proctor is in a room with his associates having a discussion and tires from hearing the word hell that so often seeps out of Parris’s mouth.
“Can you speak one minute without we land in Hell again? I am sick of Hell! ” This statement could be interpreted as Proctor not wanting to hear the word Hell because it reminds him of his sin and where he will land after passing on. Proctor could also be feeling so agitated because, he is anxiously awaiting good news from the minister. Proctor’s dislike of Parris has gone to the extreme of Proctor preferring to worship God in his home. This is because he feels the church has become too materialistic and has drifted away from the purpose of the church Proctor clearly informs Hale,
“Since we built the church there were pewter candlesticks upon the altar Francis Nurse made them. But Parris came and for twenty week he preach nothing but golden candlesticks until he had them. ” This quote suggests Proctor has no qualms with being honest about the way he feels towards Parris because he has no fear of him. Proctor’s feeling for Parris go as far as Proctor not having his third child baptised as he does not see Parris to be a God loving man. Proctor declares,
“I see no light of God in that man. ” This is again Proctor having no difficulty with sharing his opinions about others. When Proctor is questioned about his poor attendance in church, since he has already expressed how he feels about Parris, his response is sarcastic. “Mr Hale, I never knew I must account to that man for I come to church or stay at home. ” It is obvious that Proctor feeling going to church is not an obligation, is not the only reason why his appearance in church is so rare.
But also because he cannot stand Parris and would rather worship God at home then go to church where Parris leads the religious service. The reader sees more displays of Proctor’s straightforwardness, when Hale someone who is asked to come and work in the court arrives in their province. Proctor feels no need to disguise his personality, so as he is with others, he is with Hale, although he has just arrived. The reader sees that Proctor is not particularly bothered with what others have to say about him.
During their discussion Proctor comes across as if he has heard enough of what he believes to be pretence and dismisses it. Proctors dismissive statement reads, “I never spoke on witches one way or the other. ” Although conveyed as being defensive towards Hale’s question, Proctor still compliments him whilst maybe offending other characters. Proctor states, “I’ve heard you to be a sensible man, Mr Hale, I hope you’ll leave some of it in Salem. ” By making this statement Proctor has left Hale feeling embarrassed through appreciation of the compliment as is seen in the stage directions.
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