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One of the main themes in the play is the conflict between good and evil. Several of the characters struggle to overcome this conflict in themselves. How does John Proctor struggle to find his essential goodness?

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Introduction

'The Crucible' Coursework One of the main themes in the play is the conflict between good and evil. Several of the characters struggle to overcome this conflict in themselves. How does John Proctor struggle to find his essential goodness? The Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded by a group of Puritan settlers who arrived from England in 1630. The Massachusetts Bay colony was driven by the religious principles of Congregationalism. Each church and its community were supposed to be independent, but in fact they all followed the same strict code of belief and behavior. Members of the congregation who swayed from these norms were severely punished. As the community were strong Puritans, executions were public, and could take the form of hanging, beheading or pressing to death, if not a less cruel punishment would take place such as an ear, nose or limb being cut off. In 1692 In Salem Massachusetts, many people, both men and women, were hung for being witches. Arthur Miller based 'The Crucible' on the Salem witchcraft trails. When the witchcraft hysteria hit Salem, the jails were full of people accused of witchcraft and being in contact with the devil or 'evil'. As they were such a solid Puritan religion, they assosciated any kind of witchcraft with Satan. The whole witchcraft hysteria began with young girls, being rebellious and dancing naked in the forest. When discovered, the children pointed fingers at many innocent people, so they themselves would not be punished for being involved in witchcraft. The whole situation soon grew beyond everybody's control, but in December of 1692, the jails were cleared and all persons under suspicion were free once again. However, by this time nineteen people had been hanged one pressed for not confessing to this then thought crime, and at least two more people died in prison, bringing the total of deaths to twenty-two. The Puritans on Massachusetts were very aware of the existence of good and evil but did not however always know how to recognise it. ...read more.

Middle

Abby is trying to convince Proctor that she is in love with her and that Elizabeth is not a good wife, when she says "She is a cold, snivelling woman. Abigail is very aggressive, and plays a leader role with the girls, we see this in act one " (Abigail smashes Betty across the face) Shut it! Now shut it!" and again later when shouting orders to the rest of the girls, "Now look you. All of you. We danced. And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam's dead sisters. And that is all. And mark this. Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you know I can do it; I saw Indians smash my dear parents' heads on the pillow next to mine, and I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down!" Abigail uses her experience to scare the girls into thinking she could do the same to them, she threatens them so they do not tell of her drinking blood and putting a charm onto Elizabeth Proctor. Abigail is rather cunning, and after witnessing Hale rejoicing and pitying Tutuba for admitting to being in contact with the devil (which Abby made up in the first place) and wanting to love God again. She interrupts, " I want the light of God!" she wants to be seen as totally pure and innocent, maybe wanting to cover up her affair with Proctor, hoping that no one will believe it if the truth ever came out and so wishes to prove she loves God. By saying this she is obviously seeing how Tituba is being treated, like a victim, she too wants people to respect her. ...read more.

Conclusion

When Hale speaks up "man, you will hang! You cannot" trying to save Proctors' life, he says, with tears in his eyes, "I can. And there's your first marvel, that I can. You made magic now, for now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from such dogs." We see a much stronger side of Proctor, he has found goodness within himself and now does not seem afraid any longer. His wife Elizabeth, who truly believes in his goodness, witnesses this. She is obviously devastated to learn that her husband has just given up his life, but at the same time can see and knows it is the good thing to do. Hale begins to plead with Elizabeth, asking her to change his mind, but she replies, through floods of tears, "He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!" We see that Elizabeth is very much aware of the strength of Proctors courage, and she, as well as Proctor himself, can see the goodness in him. John Proctor has found, and what's more faced, his essential goodness, but more importantly people close to him recognised it in him. Throughout the play John Proctor has wavered and at times lacked courage. We discovered his weaknesses. We know about his lechery with Abigail. This disturbed character is a tragic hero, he is flawed, as he has not been completely faithful to Elizabeth. He does, however, redeem himself by almost insisting he give up his own life, along with the support and well-earned respect from his saintly friends and loving wife. At the very end of the play, he has found his strength and a belief in himself, that he was desperately struggling to discover. He goes to his death with dignity and courage, his self-respect restored. * Sophie Middlemiss Page 1 5/1/2007 Page 1 of 9 ...read more.

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