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Compare and Contrast the presentation of a puritan society in Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible' and Celia Rees' 'Witch Child'

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Introduction

Compare and Contrast the presentation of a puritan society in Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible' and Celia Rees' 'Witch Child' In the sixteenth century, a group of English protestant who practised a more strictly disciplined Christian lifestyle were named Puritans; they immigrated to Salem also called New England in the purpose to establish a society of their own after suffering from religious persecution in England. Arthur Miller's play The Crucible and Celia Rees's novel Witch Child are both similar as their story evolve around this same Puritan society of the seventeenth century in Salem, Massachusetts. The restrained and rigid Puritan lifestyle is explored in detail in both texts in which people were expected to work hard and repress their emotions and opinions. The Crucible relates very closely to Witch Child in its portrayal of a main theme within Puritanism: the witchcraft hysteria that marked the early History of America. The first similarity between Witch Child and Crucible is the portrayal of a strict Puritan religion. They were so strict that they accepted every word of the Bible as totally accurate and would not question its interpretation further, an example would be the famous 'Thou shalt not permit a sorceress to live' (2. Moses 22, 17) upon which most of the European witch trials had already been conducted. People were repressed, as entertainment and pleasure were heinous sins in which cosmetics, games, theatres and dancing were all banned. ...read more.

Middle

Since the exhibition of their affliction represented the main evidence during the trials, they were able to decide who was going to be accused and whether these persons were going to be executed or not. Whenever a person doubted the veracity of their afflictions or tried to argue with them, they would fall into fits accusing him or her of also being a witch. It may seem quite surprising that the witch hysteria occurred in a culture as religious as New England's, but in fact it is their oppressed Puritanical society which helped manoeuvre the bizarre witchcraft trial. Puritans combined their faith with a belief in witchcraft and alleged that one or another person was one of Satan's agents, bent on bringing harm to the community. They lived in an era of belief in the devil as a physical being who was incarnate, there to seduce them from the path of righteousness. The starting point which caused Salem's witch hysteria in The Crucible and Witch Child, seems to be rivalry which later on become jealousy from the two girl leaders Abigail Williams and Deborah Vane. One was jealous of Goody Proctor 'You drank blood, Abby! ...You drank a charm to kill John Proctor's wife!' the other one was jealous of Rebekah 'I want Tobias...I want you to put a curse on Rebekah. ...read more.

Conclusion

I therefore believe Arthur Miller deliberately used the choice of historical witch trial event in the seventeenth century to criticize the society in which he was living. Through The Crucible, Miller allowed the audience to be aware of the parallel between the Salem events and the modern society at this time, the McCarthy era did not learn from the past by reproducing a similar 'witch hunt' scenario in 1950s. On the other hand Celia Rees did not seem to have the same critical purpose when writing Witch Child as she was simply fascinated by her studies in American History, however she still may have had a hidden purpose or moral behind her novel; examples of the McCarthy era show that even though the belief in witchcraft has disappeared over time, similar events to the Salem witch trials occur even in our time, therefore they have not lost their historical importance and we cannot ignore them. As a conclusion, it has been demonstrated that Celia Rees and Arthur Miller have both wrote the stories of Witch child and The Crucible around the seventeenth century witchcraft trial in Salem, and although their purpose and narration were different when writing the text, their portrayal of Puritans in the Salem events have a very similar depiction in their belief, the way society was governed, their idea of women and the witchcraft trial. Suleina Kurrimboccus English A2 Coursework Suleina Kurrimboccus English A2 Coursework ...read more.

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