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Does Miller's presentation of Proctor make the ending of 'The Crucible' inevitable?

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Introduction

Does Miller's presentation of Proctor make the ending of 'The Crucible' inevitable? 'The Crucible' was written in 1953 by the American playwright, Arthur Miller. It is a historical play, which takes place in the small theocratical Puritan village of Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. However, Miller wrote the 'The Crucible' not just as a straight historical play detailing the Salem witch trials; the play in fact acts as a political allegory based on the situation in America during the Cold War in which Miller wrote the play. The allegorical story relates back to the Salem witchcraft trials and connects them to their contemporary equivalent in Miller's time, the McCarthy trials. Just as the people in Salem believed that witchcraft threatens their village, many Americans during this time saw Communism as a threat too. Arthur Miller himself was called in front of the committee, when he refused to give the names of friends who might have believed in Communism he was fined for contempt of court. The political 'witch hunt' of McCarthyism becomes clear in Miller's play, which was written to illustrate how fear and hysteria mixed with an atmosphere of persecution may end tragically. The Salem witch trials took place from June to September of 1692, during which time nineteen men and women were hanged, including a man named John Proctor, at Gallows Hill near Salem, while another man was pressed to death. Hundreds of other people were accused of witchcraft and many more suffered in jail without trials. The tragedy shows how over imaginative minds can lead to disastrously unjust consequences and represents the village as a paradox as usually Puritans were extremely religious and never committed sins as like as those that went on during the time of the witch-hunt. The actual word, 'crucible', has a few meanings. It can be a container which is able to resist heat; a melting pot, this could be a pot in which all of the characters in the play melt into individuals. ...read more.

Middle

However, in this instance she frames Elizabeth on purpose out of revenge, planting the poppet to murder her. When Elizabeth is taken away, Proctor demands that Mary Warren come to court with him, he uses his intelligence as he knows that he can use Mary to his advantage by making her give evidence against the charges of witchcraft and therefore to prove Elizabeth's innocence. However, Miller adds irony here as Proctor can rely on one single person to save them from Abigail's charges but this one person, Mary Warren, is one of the weakest characters in 'The Crucible'. She alone has the power to stop the hysteria of the witchcraft trials, but does not have the strength or will to do it. Mary needs a lot of force from Proctor to even think about coming clean about the lie in court and as Proctor uses one of his qualities, power, as he is demanding her to give evidence against Abby. She sobs 'I cannot, I cannot' but Proctor further expresses his love for his wife as he cries that his 'wife will not die for him'. His morals and principles allow the audience to believe that his death will be inescapable. Act Three continues to defend Proctor by focusing on his good points. He enters the court in a powerful manner, presenting a piece of paper signed by Mary Warren saying that the accusations of witchery are false. This shows how he is a natural leader but this quality causes friction between him and Parris. This is revealed as Parris takes the evidence from Proctor as an attack on the court, and even as an attack on him, further, it illustrates how Parris is paranoid and foolish. When Proctor is told that his wife is pregnant by Danforth; although Proctor did not know if it is true or not, he tells everyone in the court that Elizabeth never lies so he believes it, this shows that even thought Elizabeth is often cold towards him, he still deeply loves and trusts her. ...read more.

Conclusion

Elizabeth shows great strength of mind and generally as a person. She eventually forgives him for the sins he has committed and knows that he is now faithful as he is willing to give so much up for her. She is extremely strong as she lets her husband do what is right even if it means she will never see him again. She also shows strength and bravery as her execution is left looming for another year until after she has given birth to her baby and will never get to see the child grow up. Miller emphasises Proctor's strength and courage in the way he presents Proctor as a martyr as he died for the cause of justice and for what is right. His bravery and courage in the event of his death lets his amazing strength of character show and creates not only the audiences' respect for him but also the respect of the villagers of Salem. Even outsiders of the village such as Hale and Danforth have admiration for him, as he is willing to give his life for the cause of justice. He is extremely emotional and is extremely concerned about holding up the respect of the family name and reputation, both illustrate his deep love for his wife, 'you are a marvel, Elizabeth' and his love for his children. He also knows he will never even get to see his baby grow up. These strong characteristics of his personality make his death and the ending of the play unavoidable. This inevitability is clear, as there are certain aspects of his character that will not let him stand and let his name be disrespected and to go against his main beliefs and integrity. He does not believe in blackening his name for the sake of survival and overcomes adversity by not giving in to the pressures of society, which ultimately ends in death. It is this untimely death that cleanses him from all of his past sins and lets his once true, hidden character shine; the true character of a moral, honourable, well respected man. 1 Jenni Corcoran 10N ...read more.

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