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Examine the dramatic presentation of justice and morality in 'The Crucible'.

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Introduction

Examine the dramatic presentation of justice and morality in 'The Crucible' In the play, 'The Crucible', two of the most important themes are justice and morality. The dictionary definition of 'justice' that relates to the play is 'the principle that punishment should be proportionate to the offence'. This is an important definition that is presented during the play. Some of the characters are accused of witchcraft and, if they do not confess, have a severe punishment. Another meaning that relates to the play is 'the quality or fact of being just', where the definition of 'just' is 'conforming to high moral standards'. This is also an important definition that is often shown throughout the play. Some characters are just and have high moral standards, whereas others do not. The play shows the people in court not being just and people dying as a result. The word 'morality' means 'a system of moral principles' and 'the quality of being moral', where 'moral' is 'based on a sense of right and wrong according to conscience'. Some of the characters are very conscious about right and wrong, whereas others are more concerned about doing what helps them. There are a number of key issues related to justice and morality that Arthur Miller explores in the play. These include the danger in conforming to a set of strict principles, that fear has the power to corrupt justice, the fact that the misuse of justice can have disastrous consequences and that there are degrees of immorality. These issues were particularly relevant to Miller because of the time in which he was living. ...read more.

Middle

He believes that Abigail and the other girls are telling the truth and tries to get rid of the evil in Salem. Despite his morals he does not give the accused people a fair trial and is not suspicious of Abigail. When Proctor accuses Abigail, Danforth starts to suspect Abigail, and says 'She claims as well that none of you have seen these things either...Abigail Williams.... is there any truth in this?' He continues to question her, but in the end believes her or pretends to believe her. When he finds out that Abigail ran away with Mercy Lewis and Parris' money, he 'walks in thought, deeply worried'. He comes to realise that Abigail is false and that he could be hung for killing innocent people. He will not even postpone the hanging of Rebecca Nurse, Martha Corey and John Proctor, even though there could be a rebellion because of them being hung. He will not show the public that he was wrong and now knows that he is hanging and has hung innocent people. He is very immoral at the end of the play and acts only to save himself. In this way he is very similar to Abigail. There are several characters, for example Sarah Good, who confess to witchcraft to save themselves from being hung. Although it is immoral to lie, these people are not as immoral as Abigail and Danforth, because their lying does not seem to affect other people, it only saves their own lives. In the long term it does affect other people because confessing makes the court believe more strongly that witches are real, and so more people are accused of witchcraft. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the middle of Act Four, Elizabeth and John Proctor talk to each other alone for the last time. They talk about whether or not John should confess. In this scene both Elizabeth and John maintain their high principles, but in the next scene John signs the confession. This highlights how John is being immoral in signing the confession. He then rips up the confession and admits that it was a lie. This contrast shows how immoral he was going to be, and how moral he is at the end, even though it results in death. The lighting helps to show the morality of the characters. At the beginning, it is dark in the bedroom and Abigail lies to Parris and goes on to name names. The darkness shows immorality and how the immorality starts. In Act Two the Proctor's house is dark and this is where the unhappy truth is revealed about the accused people. In Act Three the room is 'solemn, even foreboding'. Many people have been sentenced to death and hung. More moral people are sentenced and accused of witchcraft in this Act, and the setting suggests this. Proctor tries and fails to tell the court the truth, and so it is important that the lighting is used to suggest something wrong and immoral will happen. Act four is the darkest Act. This is because John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse are going to be hung. This Act shows the trial of moral conscience that John Proctor has to go through. The people of Salem are strong Puritans. The language used in the play shows how important religion is to the people of Salem. Elizabeth Proctor says 'where she walks the crowd will part like the sea for Israel. ...read more.

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