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How does Arthur Miller show in "The Crucible" that SalemSociety has the capacity for what started as "just dancin' in the woods" to end with the deaths of innocent people?

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Introduction

How does Arthur Miller show in "The Crucible" that Salem Society has the capacity for what started as "just dancin' in the woods" to end with the deaths of innocent people? Throughout "The Crucible", Arthur Miller draws many comparisons to the infamous McCarthy era of the 1940's and 50's, and the frantic "witch hunts" for communists. The "guilty until proven innocent" stance which is adopted by Danforth displays the harsh reality that we witnessed in the McCarthy era, as countless writers were blacklisted for being "communist sympathisers" even if they didn't admit. The importance of reputations, as well as a lack of integrity prevails as catalysts in both eras, and the results, while not being as drastic in the McCarthy period, are similar. The title "The Crucible" makes the audience think of something that is heated up to remove any impurities in the substance inside it. This corresponds directly to the situation in Salem. The town is the crucible, and the people are the material inside it. They are purified by the witchcraft trials, as all of the problems that had existed in the village were brought to the surface, and were dealt with, one way or the other. This is ironic, as the trials, which were corrupt themselves, managed to purify many people, albeit in an unconventional way. Abigail, Parris, Putnam and Danforth are the primary symbols of the corruption and greed in Salem and they manipulate the fear of the supernatural and the pressure of being seen as a good Christian. Being a theocracy, fear of God, the devil and the supernatural in general is something that haunts the minds of many of Salem's inhabitants. These covetous individuals exploit the innocent peoples' fears in court, with no regard for those on the receiving end of the accusations. They accuse anyone they have to, as long as they gain, either security with Parris, land and money with Putnam, justification of rulings with Danforth, or the love John Proctor with Abigail. ...read more.

Middle

Aside from the few individuals with integrity, like Proctor, Corrie and Rebecca Nurse, the rest of Salem's society will sacrifice others to safeguard their name in the town. When questioned by Hale, Abigail seems to instinctively play the innocent child which the audience knows she is definitely not, an example of dramatic irony. "I'm a good girl! I'm a proper girl!" These words highlight how quick she is to defend herself, and her insecurity about her image and reputation in the village. Once she is safe, she proceeds to shift blame onto others, like Tituba. "She tried (to make me drink the soup) but I refused...She made me drink blood!" Abigail realises her word is taken over Tituba's because of the racial prejudice at the time the play is set in. People like Abigail, Parris and Putnam aren't afraid to use this discrimination to their advantage, which only serves to kill more people, or to ruin their lives. It is ironic that one of the few admirable qualities that are found in the town is the reason that so many people die. Ultimately, people like Hale and Proctor realise that it isn't being seen as a good Christian or letting people think you are innocent that matters, but knowing yourself that you are innocent and have nothing to fear. It is this that convinces them that everything should be done to protect your innocence, even giving your life, in Proctor's case. People like Proctor and Reverend Hale are purified by Danforth's crucible but for the wrong reasons. While Danforth's words, "We burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment," would appear to be correct, they are ironic, in that the only way the truth comes out is if innocent people die first These men, along with the many others who are convicted, struggle long and hard with the decision of confession and lies versus integrity and righteousness. ...read more.

Conclusion

and Corey with him to the jail!" This is another illustration of Danforth's cowardice, and his inability to confront his flaws. Proctor's earlier quote, "God is dead!" also serves to show the disorder in the justice system. The people who should represent God, like Parris and Danforth, are now the devils. We see further irony when Danforth states, "I will not deal in lies," in a bid to obtain Proctor's confession, when in fact, every pardon or conviction was based on a lie. No one can be sure if Danforth believed he was right in doing what he did, but it is obvious that he wasn't right. In contrast, it is more obvious that Parris had a hidden agenda. However, both were responsible for the deaths of innocent people, although it seems that this was the only thing that could bring their reign to an end. One of the reasons Miller wrote this play was to denounce McCarthyism, and the end again draws parallels to this period, as the whole saga only came to an end when someone took a stand against the state. There were very few people who were willing to stand up for their beliefs, not only in Salem, but also during the McCarthy era, which is understandable given the consequences. . Miller projects other figures as unlikely heroes, everyday people like Rebecca Nurse, Giles Corey and John Proctor, who have the courage and integrity to admit to their faults, and die for their beliefs. In this era, with the town steeped in anger, vengeance and despair, these individuals stand alone making their achievements even greater. Once a stand had been taken however, the repercussions suffered by the corrupt leaders of these eras were also similar. Danforth's power over the public diminished rapidly and Parris "walked the highroad, and was never seen again." McCarthy's power ceased as well, highlighting again, that a few individuals with a conscience can make a difference, one way or the other. Shoubhik Bandopadhyay 10AG 1 ...read more.

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