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An Abuse of Power

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The Crucible is a novel that demonstrates the human abuse of power and ability to manipulate weakness in others to achieve our own goals, using its crop of deceptive and cunning antagonists. A well-known actor who held a role in a theatre representation of the Crucible, Javier Bardem was once quoted as saying that he could "respect people's faith, but [he could] not respect their manipulation of that faith to create fear and control" (Bardem). This is precisely what Miller is demonstrating in his text, playing on the faith of the Puritans in Salem, of God and of witches. This allows characters like Danforth to keep a strong hold of their political power, assuring they remain there, while Parris and Putnam abuse their power to save face before the public, and carrying out her dangerously selfish goals, Abigail twists that faith and fear to gain power. Thus, because of their ability to manipulate themselves to safety, no one questions their actions, save John Proctor, who angrily asks "why do [they] never wonder if Parris be innocent, or Abigail? Is the accuser always holy now? Were they born this morning as clean as God's fingers?" (Miller 73) With this statement, it is clear the Crucible studies the abuse of power and manipulation very closely. ...read more.


On the other end, a rich man seeking more power over the lands by supporting his daughter's accusations against those owning lands he could buy. Both men are as foul as the witches Salem fears, and prey upon the aforementioned fear to shove their hands further into the cooked jar of power, never being questions by higher authority or suspected because of money and political standing. Giles Corey is the first to call Putnam on this manipulation publicly, by announcing he knows a man who heard Putnam say "the day his daughter cried out on Jacobs, [that] she'd given him a fair gift of land," (89). But in the end no one dares believe him, or at least look into Giles' accusation, because of Putnam's strong reputation of political power and good money. This is also the reason his subtle machinations-including subtly manipulating Parris into conclusions he wants to hear-are often overlooked. Parris, on the other hand, has no political power to abuse. Instead, he manipulates the court, skillfully using his title as minister to have his way, saving his reputation that would have been tainted by the discovery of his daughter and niece dancing in the forest. He also aids Abigail in abusing the hysteria and fear of Salem to rid himself of his enemies, particularly Proctor, who "[has] no love for Parris, it is no secret," (84). ...read more.


Jack recognizes the weakness in the group of boys, using their gnawing fear of "the beast" to turn them to his side, against Ralph. Though much more direct, Jack uses his power to threaten the boys on Ralph's side, such as Samneric, to hail to savagery and chaos, much like Abigail did to Mary. He dominates the island, getting what he wants, and eliminating those such as Piggy and Ralph, who stand in his way. Abigail's tactic of lying, manipulating fear and abusing her power in court grants her the same reward of getting her way, and pushing aside enemies like Elisabeth. The only difference is that Abigail's actions come with far bigger consequences, more than Parris, Putnam or Danforth, fleshed out on a larger scale of victims who fell in the face of her machinations. In the end, Arthur Miller's Crucible is a fine study of manipulation and abuse of power, shown in various forms, through vicious antagonists, always exploiting Salem's fear to achieve their own selfish goals and further themselves on the social food chain. What Miller is perhaps attempting to demonstrate through this play is that those in positions of power will always abuse it, especially when faith is involved, because of the "manipulation of that faith to create fear and control" (Bardem), as have done Danforth, Parris, Putnam and Abigail. ...read more.

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