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Exploring the importance of religion to the community of Salem

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Introduction

Exploring the importance of religion to the community of Salem During the 1600s the Puritan community in England and was being gravely persecuted. The persecution was mainly due to the revolutionary view of the religion that the monarchy of the time had. The Puritan section of the protestant religion supported poor and uneducated people while at the same time attacking the power of Bishops. Puritan members of parliament were arrested if they did not agree with the official line. All known Puritans in England were spied on by Elizabeth's secret police, and Puritan meetings were broken up by militia. The persecution stiffened the Puritans morale and some sort of action became inevitable. The persecution eventually caused many Puritans to flee to America, where they founded several colonies. The small town of Salem was founded in 1626 and its name comes from the holy city of Jerusalem. The events that appear in the play took place around 40 years later. The fact that the thousands of Puritans left Europe purely because of their religion shows how unbelievably devoted those people were. It seems that the devotion to their religion became the people of Salem's downfall. Following the Bible through a literal interpretation caused obvious problems between the people and the church as well as between the people themselves. It was clear that some people knew that there religious views were causing problems but those people did not want to jeopardise their position in the highly important religion. Without their religion the people of Salem had nothing. The language that the Puritan people of Salem use shows how important religion was. The language as a whole almost repeats that of the King James Version of the Bible which was brought about because of the pressure put on the church by the Puritan section. That version of the Bible was authorised in 1611 and was used by Protestants for 350 years. ...read more.

Middle

Being part of the Puritan community in Salem meant that any enjoyment was forbidden, Christmas was not celebrated, holidays were used as extra prayer time, and working was to survive. I think that those factors helped in making younger members of the community rebel after the boundaries of the theocratic village had been gradually pushed over 40 years. Throughout the play we are reminded of the difficulty of working the land in Salem although John Proctor is the only person in the play to ever refer to the harsh nature of working the land. When he says "I labour the earth from dawn of day to blink of night", "This forms a continent when you go by foot dropping seed into it" and "I have a crop to sow and lumber to drag home" he is not complaining but he is giving examples of the tough work that he has to do every day. The people of Salem are treated as untrustworthy prisoners of their religion this can be seen in act two when Reverend Hale visits John Proctor and tells him of how he has missed church, this like earlier is a small factor that can become incriminating for the perpetrator. In Salem it even went as far as having a two man patrol appointed to see who in the town was missing church and who was when they shouldn't have been. Again this suggests that the importance of religion for the people was reducing because of the way they were treated. Another good example of the miss treating of the Salem townsfolk would be the way in which they are made responsible for anything that goes wrong because it is blamed on the sins of the people. The variation of characters moral values is immense throughout the play. Danforth is willing to let the killing continue to save his name and to prove that the previous killings were the right thing to do. ...read more.

Conclusion

After reading the play it is clear that the title itself gives an immediate insight of what to expect. A crucible is "A vessel made of a refractory substance such as graphite or porcelain, used for melting and calcining materials at high temperatures." As well as being "A severe test, as of patience or belief; a trial." After reading the play it is clear that the title is intelligently chosen. The crucible being a melting pot is backed up by the fact that at the end of each act the tension has built up to the point that the tension, like a substance in a melting pot, bubbles and boils over. The boiling over and heat also links into the fire and burning of evil and hell. This is ironic because the community was formed to rid the Puritan people of a sinful life. The innocent people are the ones that are being burnt in this fire because of one person. The crucible being a severe test links into the whole play. The community of Salem is being severely tested by the witch trials. All their belief and faith is being thrown out of the window. This shows that in times of uncertainty the importance of religion is lost to the massive uproar of an event. Overall I think that the importance of religion is different for all of the people in Salem. Each individual has a different view of the world and how to live. The likeness is seen in the community as a whole. I think that the importance of religion to the community of Salem very limited although their lives are revolving around it. Because the people are no longer under pressure to conform they have begun to take their life in Salem strangely for granted. All the things that they think are wrong are slowly creeping in. There is constant conflict between religion and freedom. The importance of religion only goes so far and because of the circumstances in Salem at the time religion is dismissed. Chris Wilson 10JF ...read more.

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