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In 1692, in Salem, Massachusetts, the superstition of witches existed in a society based on strong Christian beliefs. Anyone who acts out of the ordinary is accused of being a witch, and he/she will actually be forgiven if they blame their accusations on another individual, or confess themselves as guilty. Hysteria is the main idea of this play, The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Miller shows how it can destroy an entire community, and developed a theme of how suspicion and panic can lead to extensive hysteria that often can destroy rationality and public/individual persona.
Firstly, the person with the most influence on hysterical ideas is the character of Abigail Williams. Abigail has an affair with a man by the name of John Proctor. Proctor breaks contact with her and starts spending more time with his wife, Elizabeth. Abigail becomes jealous because of this and with a few girls and Tituba dances in the forest to kill Goody Proctor. Rev. Parris, Abigail’s uncle, sees this and reports it. When Abigail is questioned about this, she denies everything and doesn’t tell the truth about what really happened.
The news of her and the other girls’ strange actions gets around and the hysteria starts. Without Abigail’s superstition, and her fear of telling the truth, the events in The Crucible wouldn’t have been so extreme. Secondly, the towns people start to take part in the hysterical climate as well, not only because of strong religious beliefs, but also because it gives them a chance to express repressed feelings and to act on long-held grudges. The most obvious case, (as previously mentioned) is Abigail, who takes advantage of the chaos to accuse Proctor’s wife and have her sent to jail.
But others thrive off of it as well. Reverend Parris reinforces his position within the village, even if it is by making scapegoats of people like John Proctor, who question his authority. The arrogant Thomas Putnam gains revenge on Francis Nurse by getting Rebecca, Francis’s righteous wife, convicted of the murders of his wife’s babies. Many others in the town also become hysterical over the witchcraft accusations and destroy not only many people’s public personas, but their lives as well.
Lastly, there is John Proctor, who ends up almost losing his name and pride as he gives up on himself and succumbs to the hysterics of the town and the witch trials. Proctor is an intelligent man who can easily notice idiocy in others and expose it, but he starts questions his own moral sense. Because of his affair with Abigail Williams, he questions whether or not he is a righteous man, which is the only major flaw attributed to Proctor, who is in all other respects is honorable and ethical.
At first he starts to feel insecure and does not tell of his affair, but after doing so the town makes him feel as if the only way to get out is to plead guilty, which he almost does. He ends up putting a rest to the town’s madness and thus ends the play. John Proctor was another deeply affected by the extensive hysteria. In conclusion, the theme on how fear and suspicion can lead to hysteria and destroy public order is evident in The Crucible. Miller depicts how people can become hysterical over nonsensical things and that hysteria can spread to the masses, ruining many people’s lives.
Hysteria is evident in the play as it was the force behind the plot of the story, and the cause of the problems that the town of Salem faced. Miller wanted to show how shocking events in history dangerously related to the McCarthy Era that had a similar concept. People were hysterical over the communists and many people in Hollywood and other fields were quickly losing their jobs and becoming crazy over the concept, a situation similar to that of The Crucible.
Author: Eva Dockery
The Crucible Theme Essay
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Themes of Arthur Miller's The Crucible
- Length: 508 words (1.5 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
Arthur Miller's The Crucible
A group of teenage girls were secretly dancing in the woods with a black slave, named Tituba. When they were discovered of what they were doing, the girls started accusing certain individuals in the village of dealing with witchcraft. Within a blink of an eye, the entire village is controlled by a devil that exists within the fear of each person. A drama of suspense and impact, Arthur Miller's The Crucible, explores through the individuals' vengeance, fear, reputation, and quest for power.
Vengeance is the main theme of The Crucible. The people of the town of Salem were not united, but instead, distrusted and disliked each other. During the court trials, the girls started accusing certain people that they didn't like of dealing with witchcraft. For example, Abigail Williams couldn't forget John Proctor even though their affair was over. She believed that if his wife, Elizabeth Proctor, was out of the way, Abigail and John would be together again. Therefore, she told everyone that Elizabeth's spirit was trying to kill her and accused Elizabeth of being a witch.
Fear also played an important role in The Crucible. The girls were afraid of being accused as witches themselves, so they started accusing other people in the town of being witches. Moreover, many people who were accused of being witches confessed to being witches because they were scared of death. People who confessed to witchcraft and dealing with the devil only stayed in the jail for a short time while others who refused to give in were hanged. Towards the end of the play, Abigail and Mercy ran away with huge amounts of money because they were afraid that if the authorities found out that they were lying they would be punished severely.
The theme of reputation and quest for people is also portrayed clearly in The Crucible. In the old days, children were considered unimportant. They weren't allowed to speak until given permission to, and they didn't make important decisions at all. However, during the witch court trials, Abigail and other girls had the power to say who was innocent and who was guilty. Probably, for the first time in their lives, they had power over Salem and they wanted to maintain it. Moreover, the authorities of Salem were afraid of losing authorities and power. For example, the judges, Governor Danforth and Ezekiel Cheever didn't want to admit that they were being fooled by a bunch of girls so they insisted that witchcraft existed in the town of Salem.
How to Cite this Page
|Themes of Arthur Miller's The Crucible Essay - Arthur Miller's The Crucible A group of teenage girls were secretly dancing in the woods with a black slave, named Tituba. When they were discovered of what they were doing, the girls started accusing certain individuals in the village of dealing with witchcraft. Within a blink of an eye, the entire village is controlled by a devil that exists within the fear of each person. A drama of suspense and impact, Arthur Miller's The Crucible, explores through the individuals' vengeance, fear, reputation, and quest for power.... [tags: Essay on The Crucible]||508 words|
| Themes of Power and Authority in The Crucible by Arthur Miller Essay - Explore Miller’s dramatic presentation and development of the theme of power and authority. Even though The Crucible is not historically correct, nor is it a perfect allegory for anti-Communism, or as a faithful account of the Salem trials, it still stands out as a powerful and timeless depiction of how intolerance, hysteria, power and authority is able to tear a community apart. The most important of these is the nature of power, authority and its costly, and overwhelming results. “But you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or against it,” says Danforth conceitedly.... [tags: religious, hysteria, accusations]|
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Reverend Parris was also trying to regain his reputation and win support from the citizens of Salem through the court trials, since he had many enemies.
Many ideas and themes are presented through the play, The Crucible. As vengeance, fear and struggle for power combines, the village of Salem quickly turns into chaos and panic. Innocent people are killed, children and property aren't taken care of since people are required to attend court trials. The impact and suspense of the plotline makes it interesting and enjoyable.