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The Crucible - The Marriage of John and Elizabeth Proctor

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Introduction

The Crucible: The Marriage of John and Elizabeth Proctor The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, is a study in the mass hysteria which led to the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials. Themes of the play include deceit, love, secrecy and paranoia. These attributes can be given to the play itself, but can also be given to certain characters and their relationships; these have been used by Miller to create tension throughout the play and have allowed him to totally capture the audience personally. Two of the key characters in the play are John and Elizabeth Proctor, a married couple with what seems - to the majority of people in the play - a flawless relationship, but is really one of suspicion, secrecy and fear. To begin with, John is an extremely complex character placed at the heart of the play. He has a strong sense of his morals and he will not suffer fools gladly - he is the first to truthfully give his point of view. Unfortunately, John also has several personality traits which lead to his downfall - and even his death. However, his honour and honesty at the end of the play transform him into something of a tragic hero. John's most obvious weakness is his temptation - his lust for Abigail and his committing of adultery, and his disregard and plain disrespect for his wife, Elizabeth. For most people in Salem, John's actions would have been a great shock as he is a well respected pillar of the community; however, this does not permit his sins. ...read more.

Middle

I think that Elizabeth not being able to forgive John only makes the situation worse - and it makes both of them feel very guilty: John, for originally committing the sin, knowing that it would upset Elizabeth, and Elizabeth, for her continuous suspicions of John and her inability to move on from previous events. However, in all fairness, Elizabeth is still married to John and has tried very hard to forget about what has happened; John has not been awfully supportive in this - he seems to just get agitated with her discussing it. Elizabeth obviously loves John with all of her heart, and although because she cannot forgive him, it could be presumed that she obviously isn't willing to love him, but her actions in the end of the play - her decision to lie against the court because of this love - ultimately show her to be the caring, devout woman that she is - and demonstrate that nothing is more important to her than Proctor. The great irony of this is that it is her action of lying which ultimately condemns him as a liar. John Proctor admits to lechery in order to condemn Abigail as a liar and protect his wife - except Elizabeth denies that John is an adulterer in order to protect his name. I personally admire both Elizabeth and John, but feel most sympathy for Elizabeth Proctor as she has had to cope with the results of John's sins - she has had great heartache from his deception and hasn't really come to terms with it. ...read more.

Conclusion

Through John and Elizabeth's marriage, bigotry becomes evident in the whole society of Salem. John rises above it on matters of principle and his doing this yields the strongest irony: the sinner is less criminal than his religious judgers. There are several bigots in the play - including the likes of Danforth - who, despite the knowledge that Abigail and her fellow accusers are in fact lying, continues to condemn innocent people of witchery and submits them to death. He condemns 'witches' for lying - however, he is a liar, and they are in fact not. He somehow believes that in order to create a powerful court, his actions are justified. Abigail is also a bigot - obviously - she tells the court that innocent people are witches and are simply denying it - she calls them sinful - and yet she goes against the 10 commandments. Proctor does this too - he is against those who go against the 10 commandments and is willing to judge them, however, he has done so himself - with Abigail. This links in with the idea that John and Elizabeth's marriage has something to do with the other themes and issues of the play. The play's themes include paranoia, lying, fear, and deceit. All of these can also be considered as themes of John and Elizabeth's marriage - she is paranoid and fears that she will lose John, the people of Salem are paranoid over whether the people that they are in contact with are witches, and deeply fear being accused of being a witch - as they will hang. ...read more.

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