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Caplan is a theatre critic. She argued that "The Crucible" is sexist in its portrayal of women. Consider Miller's presentation of female characters. How far do you agree with Caplan's view?

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Introduction

Caplan is a theatre critic. She argued that "The Crucible" is sexist in its portrayal of women. Consider Miller's presentation of female characters. How far do you agree with Caplan's view? I am of the opinion that Miller's portrayal of women is sexist but not to the same extent as Betty Caplan because I am also of the opinion that Miller grants abstract authority to women, their power is entirely un-tangible it lies at the heart of every mans desire. In The Crucible it is the men of the court who are given actual power and authority i.e. they sentence suspected witches to be hung. As Caplan says, "The battle in Salem was about a petrified male theocracy which felt threatened by women." What they were in fact afraid of was the persistent denial of their own sexual feelings towards women. Caplan also goes on to state that the authors of Malleus Maleficarium noted, "These men were extremely agitated at the prospect that witches may work some Prestidigitatory illusion so that the male organ appears to be entirely removed and separate from the body". If that is not granting women power what is. The ability to strip mans identity from him is what constitutes the bulk of Puritan fears. Parris and proctor alike feel that if they were to surrender their feelings to women they would also be surrendering a part of themselves, which they did not want to give up. ...read more.

Middle

he is not intentionally defining character through sexist actions and is instead only appealing to a minority of readers. However, I do recognise that people will interpret the play differently overall. Different people will have different opinions regarding subject matters such as the hysteria that Abigail creates in the court. Some will admire the power of her persuasion while others will be totally amazed at the naivety of Danforth and the other members of the court and jury. The critic Betty Caplan views the hysteria that Abigail creates in court as an attack at womankind, "Roll up, roll up! Come and see girls going bananas and birds materialising in front of their eyes! Come to the circus of female insanity!" I feel here that Caplan has underestimated Miller's ability as a playwright and could possibly be playing right into Miller's hands. In fact if I were Miller reading this response I would not at all be disappointed instead I would admire how much I have been able to affect a reader. This after all could be exactly what Miller wishes to convey. He perhaps is giving female readers a taste of the prejudice that they would have faced in 17th century Salem. Proctor as a character is the most important part of the play. "Its got to be basically Proctor's story." ...read more.

Conclusion

I think he feels that people owe a common duty to humanity. For example in one of Miller's other plays, "A View from the Bridge" it concerns itself with the theme of private desires coming into conflict with the moral demands of the community. Something directly related to themes contained in The Crucible because as Caplan agrees the reason for the restrictions in the puritanical society are the fear of men. They are scared of the desires biologically inherent in them which make them lust after women. They repress these feelings in order to appear "pure" in the eyes of God. As in "A View from a Bridge" Eddie is ostracised by his family for not conforming to the values, which they perceive to be correct, much like Proctor in the eyes of Theocracy. To conclude I do agree with Betty Caplan that Miller's portrayal of women is sexist however I also believe that Caplan has underestimated Miller's ability as a playwright and that Miller has intentionally portrayed the female characters in a sexist light as a reflection on the time period, 17th century Salem and to try and highlight the errors of their ways so that the society today does not repeat the same mistakes. This I feel is Millers main intention in the book to show the errors of the puritanical society as a reflection of the society in which we live today and of the society that Miller experienced whilst writing the novel i.e. the post war, McCarthyism era in America. ...read more.

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