Belonging: the Crucible

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Belonging is a far-reaching yet complex idea that is powerfully explored in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. It illustrates a variety of aspects of belonging, where it can be compared and contrasted with ideas in other texts such as Oliver Parker’s film Dorian Gray and Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s poem We Are Going. These texts present ideas of power and isolation, which consequently lead to individuals either belonging or not belonging to the community. Through the use of a variety of literary, film and dramatic techniques, the composers can emphasise and convey the similar (or differing) aspects of belonging found in each text.

Power is an evident theme in The Crucible that suggests it controls the fragile town of Salem. As such, an individual’s feeling of belonging is influenced by Salem’s theocratic and authoritative government. The characterisation of Hale allows the audience to realise this, as he immediately belongs and assumes a position of power. Initially, Hale is the driving force of the witch trials, as he represents the theocracy, is educated and possesses books that are “weighted with authority”. This feeds his ego as the ‘expert’ and demonstrates his ability to exert power onto the townspeople. He also stresses that “Theology is a fortress; no crack in a fortress may be accounted small”. This clearly shows that you either belong or don’t belong in the community, and that those who choose not to belong do so at their own peril. However, Hale’s guilt grows throughout the play when he realises the bitterness of the accusations and metaphorically describes his actions with “What I touched with my bright confidence it died, and where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood flowed up”. This evidently shows the extent to which Hale can exert power and his consequent feelings of guilt. Ultimately, Hale questions his faith and removes himself from the sense of belonging fostered in Salem. His assertion of “I denounce these proceedings, I quit this...
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