Mr.Avila Escobar

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The Crucible is a play about the intersection of private sins with paranoia, hysteria, and religious intolerance. The citizens of Arthur Miller’s Salem of 1692 would consider the very concept of a private life heretical. The government of Salem, and of Massachusetts as a whole, is a theocracy, with the legal system based on the Christian Bible. Moral laws and state laws are one and the same; sin and the status of an individual’s soul are public concerns. An individual’s private life must conform to the moral laws, or the individual represents a threat to the public good. Regulating the morality of citizens requires surveillance. For every inhabitant of Salem, there is a potential witness to the individual’s private crimes. State officials patrol the township, requiring citizens to give an account of their activities. Free speech is not a protected right, and saying the wrong thing can easily land a citizen in jail. Most of the punishments, such as the stocks, whipping, and hangings, are public, with the punishment serving to shame the lawbreaker and remind the public that to disagree with the state’s decisions is to disagree with God’s will. The Crucible introduces a community full of underlying personal grudges. Religion pervades every aspect of life, but it is a religion that lacks a ritual outlet to manage emotions such as anger, jealousy, or resentment. By 1692, Salem has become a fairly established community, removed from its days as an outpost on a hostile frontier. Many of the former dangers that united the community in its early years have lessened, while interpersonal feuds and grudges over property, religious offices, and sexual behaviour have begun to simmer beneath the theocratic surface. These tensions, combined with the paranoia about supernatural forces, pervade the town’s religious sensibility and provide the raw materials for the hysteria of the witch trials. On the surface, Parris appears to be an anxious, worried father. However, if we pay close...
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