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Discuss How Miller Presents The Theme Of Greed And Envy within 'The Crucible'.

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Introduction

4th October 2004 Discuss How Miller Presents The Theme Of Greed And Envy within 'The Crucible'. 'The Crucible' was written in 1953 by Arthur Miller in the time of the cold war, although the play was set in 1692. The play is about a town called Salem in America and about the witch-hunts that took place there. Because it was written in this time period there is a feeling of mistrust, greed and envy echoed in the play. Arthur Miller plays on these feelings and produces a theme of greed and envy that is critical to the whole play. I will be discussing this theme further. Miller first introduces the theme of greed and envy by creating many social tensions in Act 1. We can tell there are social tensions because of the way the people speak to each other, such as when Mr Putnam says to Mr Parris '"No witchcraft! Now look you, Mr Parris -"' (Pg 10.) This shows us that Parris and Putnam must have a history between them of unfriendly feelings, as not many people would dare stand up to a minister. This unfriendliness is confirmed by the piece of analytical text Miller has included (pg 11) to help us understand it better. In this piece of text he writes, 'Some time before, Thomas Putnam's brother-in-law, James Bayley, had been turned down as minister of Salem.' ...read more.

Middle

This feud runs throughout 'The Crucible' and without it the play wouldn't exist. We know that Abigail is envious of Elizabeth because Elizabeth is married to John Proctor. We know this because throughout the play, through the characters remarks we piece together a picture of life before the play started. For example Abigail says, "I saw your face when she put me out, and you loved me then and you do now!" (Pg 18) is one of the comments which tells us about their past. Abigail does many things during the play, which reveal her envy of Elizabeth; one of them was at the beginning of the play where she drank blood to summon the Devil to murder Elizabeth. Another was when she accused Elizabeth of witchcraft, for instance Hale says, "Your wife's name is - mentioned in the court." The audience instantly knows that it must be Abigail who accused her because of Abigail's obvious envy of Elizabeth. An audience might start to feel angry towards Abigail, as we now know that Abigail is at the centre of all the angst and unfriendliness. Throughout the play Hales' character greatly shapes the course of events. For instance in Act One he is portrayed as an arrogant and self-centred character, only interested in his own importance as shown by, "Have no fear now - we shall find him out if he has come among us, and I mean to crush him utterly if he has shown his face." ...read more.

Conclusion

I think that Miller ensured these characters to be seen as foreboding and power hungry to build up the pressure even more. I think that by writing this play, in a manner where everything revolves around greed and envy, Miller has subtly put in a moral to the story. The moral shows that being envious or jealous gets you nothing but trouble. I think that to a major extent he believed that jealousy and envy were the chief factors in the tragic events both in the play and in reality. I think that when the play was first shown the original audience would have felt very emotional and would have been able to relate to the characters because it was first shown when McCarthy's anti-Communist campaign was at its height. The similarities between these two events were many, for example, the fear shown in the play towards witches was the same as the fear shown in real life at the time between the anti-communists and the communists. I believe that if Arthur Miller had not made the themes of greed and envy so strong then the tension would not have been as great and the play would not have been as interesting. These themes were important in the whole escalation of the witch-hunts and their dramatic purpose was to create a vibrant yet serious play. The moral purpose of the play really affects the audience and creates good tension throughout 'The Crucible.' ...read more.

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