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‘Societies often tend to suppress individual freedom in order to maintain social order.’Discuss how this idea is highlighted in Arthur Miller’s play ‘The Crucible’

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Andrew Grindley Assignment 2 The Crucible 'Societies often tend to suppress individual freedom in order to maintain social order.' Discuss how this idea is highlighted in Arthur Miller's play 'The Crucible' Arthur Miller was a playwright who dealt with many issues and themes. His play 'The Crucible' involves a past parallel of McCarthyism in the form of the Salem Witch Trials. McCarthyism came about when a politician named Joseph McCarthy tried to cover up his shaping of an anticommunist policy by using scapegoats. In this play, a girl named Abigail accused almost the whole town of witchcraft. This happened because in her own cunning way she turned the accusation against her, created when some girls in the town becoming ill, and used a scapegoat to avoid being hanged. She had had an affair with a local towns-person, John Proctor. The play 'The Crucible' deals with many issues and themes relevant both then and now. Persecution and power are probably the most influential. Persecution, by definition, is the subjecting of a group of people to cruel or unfair treatment, for example because of their ethnic origin or religious beliefs. In 'The Crucible' all of the prisoners were persecuted by torture i.e. stoning, or by force i.e. being put in jail. Righteousness is a thing wanted by many humans, mainly religious ones, as they want to be seen as good in the eyes of their God. This can sometimes lead to the persecution and torture of others in order to do something seen as righteous. ...read more.


John Proctor is one of the key characters in the play and his views represent an understanding of unity and individualism together. He is the archetypal hero of the play and is thought of by the girls as sexy. We know however that he used to have a weakness for Abigail. He is an individual who creates enmity with people such as Abigail Williams. John Proctor lusting after Abigail and sleeping with her caused the conflict between them. When his wife found out, she banished Abigail from the house and Abigail held a grudge ever since. When Abigail accused Elizabeth of witchcraft, John quickly stepped in to heighten the conflict and sacrificed his good name by admitting to the affair: "I have known her, sir! I have known her!" This proves he is willing to do anything for his wife and he wants Abigail to be brought down from her now powerful position. By condemning himself to being a lecher, he has also brought down Abigail so as the judges think about whether she is truly holy. Reverend Hale is a smaller role but still very important. He represents the view of an open-minded priest who is not quick to judge and is both understanding and knowledgeable. He comes into indirect conflict with Abigail, as he does not agree with all the accusations placed in the court. However, the major conflict affecting his part is the one with the other judges involved in the court hearings. While he was drawn into the town to hunt out the witches, he was quick to realise when it got out of hand. ...read more.


Judge Hathorne expresses the same views, in the play, as Reverend Parris although he disliked him. He saw Parris as a far too powerful man within the parish and did not trust him. He was irrational and lost his temper slightly. When interviewing a witness or one of the accused he did not accept what they had to say and changed their words. He only found in them what he is looking for and nothing more. He is a far too powerful man within the play himself a he is an unjust judge and one of the most predominant. He was blessed with too much power and his unjust morals took over the entire community. There are modern social parallels of this, as evidence by Senator Joseph McCarthy's anticommunist accusations ruining the American government. Senator Joseph McCarthy was involved in the making of an anticommunist policy in America in the 1940's. Due to his input, the policy stated that no communists or communist activities were allowed in America. This lead to the American people hanging on every word of McCarthy's, as communism was feared since the communist take-over in China. Joseph went on to accuse 205 workers of the State Department of being communists and no one would stand up to him or they would be accused also. His downfall came when he failed to produce any hard evidence to confirm his accusations, and he was revealed as being a bully through his hearings in the House of Un-American Activities Committee. Miller uses this event strongly in the play using Abigail as the one whom everyone trusts. She is really the bully and cannot prove anything with evidence, other than playing on the strong religious beliefs of the town. ...read more.

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