An Explination of Jealousy in the Crucible

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Jealousy: An Explanation
By: Katie Jansen

Some people know jealousy as "green envy." Some people just know it as plain old jealousy, but everyone knows jealousy and the pain it can cause. Jealousy is a nasty emotion, causing nice people to act mean, calm people to act rash, and even the steadiest of tempers to rise. It lashes out with harsh actions and words, hurting many innocent victims. Jealousy causes people to act in abnormal ways, devious ways of hatred and deception, ways that most people would not normally act. Ultimately, jealousy is caused by a certain insecurity that a person has. This insecurity comes from not having what you desire, allowing you to be jealous of those who have it. Three main things that cause insecurity are: social judgment, rejection, and a person's level of self-worth. When insecurity is present, a person is more likely to be jealous of someone who feels secure because that someone has what that person wants: a feeling of security. The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, displays many acts of jealousy throughout the play. Many characters in The Crucible experience the power of jealousy, but only one is able to beat it. Jealousy is a terrible emotion, a very strong, controlling emotion, and extremely difficult to forget. However, to achieve complete happiness, it is necessary to learn from other people, accept who you are and become secure with yourself, therefore allowing you to get past your jealousy.

Society is always worried about first impressions and how other people view them as a person. Everyone is afraid of judgment, of failing to make people like them and respect them. This insecurity of social judgment leads to jealousy and consequently, the actions that come with it. In The Crucible, Reverend Parris is jealous of John Proctor's good name. He is jealous of the respect that Proctor gets from others and the weight of his word in Salem. Because of this jealousy, Parris isn't too fond of Proctor. He has a feeling of resentment towards him, causing him to be short with Proctor and lash out at him unnecessarily. This quickness of temper is shown when Proctor asks Parris if he called a meeting before allowing Reverend Hale to come and look for witchcraft in Salem(27). He cannot even finish his question before being cut short by Parris, "I am sick of meetings; cannot the man turn his head without he have a meeting?"(28). This response is clearly showing his frustration at being judged by his peers on everything he does as the new minister of Salem and the insecurity he feels about his position. Proctor's judgment is especially hurtful because Proctor has the respect and weighty opinion that Parris so longingly desires. It seems as if until Parris can grow confident in his position as minister, he will never get over his jealousy and therefore will never be able to be completely happy and secure. Jealousy is shown through Parris because he, like a lot of people, is afraid of everyone's judgment and opinion of him, making him insecure and therefore allowing jealousy to take over.

Mrs. Putnam is also an example of how the social judgment insecurity affects jealousy. However, she is more jealous of Rebecca Nurse not for her good name and weighty opinion, but more because she is the epitome of the good Puritan woman. Rebecca also has something that Mrs. Putnam would give anything for: many healthy children. Mrs. Putnam happens to have only one surviving daughter, Ruth, while her seven other daughters have been lost in childbirth before living even one day of their lives(28). In the time setting of The Crucible, the Puritan society is obsessed with being good, and above all, being holy. The insecurity Mrs. Putnam is suffering from is caused from the fear that she might not be good and she might not be holy, and therefore she is being punished by having seven babies die before her very eyes. She is scared of what people think of her, scared that they might wonder why so many have died...
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