Conflict Expository (the Crucible)

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“In times of conflict, self-preservation may lead us to compromise many of our values.” The fight for survival is a conflict that all species encounter. It is instinctive for all animals to put up their best defence and protect themselves when a threat is encountered. In higher order thinking animals such as us humans, confronting a challenging conflict requires elaborate cognitive thought processes. Depending on the individual’s own conscience, some people may succumb to compromising their values in order to protect themselves. In many instances, in both the fictional world and real life, an individual is put in a position where they must decide what is more important to them – self-preservation or moral values. When faced with a moral dilemma, a self-serving individual will very likely choose the option that is most beneficial to their self-interest, while some individuals may waver in between what’s right and wrong, and a small handful of individuals who possess an inner moral fortitude will stand by their values even if it means risking their lives. In 1692, hysteria afflicted Salem, Massachusetts and suspicions of witchcraft and devil worshipping instigated the persecution of many innocents. In his play, The Crucible, Arthur Miller uses the context of witch hunts in Salem to create a situation where characters are faced with a conflict in which their morality is tested. Characters such as Rebecca Nurse and Giles Corey who had prevailing moral values remained righteous till the end. They did not dishonour their beliefs in exchange for their lives. Protagonist John Proctor’s choice to preserve his reputation despite knowing Abigail was a fraud early in the play can be both seen as self-preserving or preserving his values. When his own life is directly under threat, Proctor was initially ready to give up his reputation (values) in order to save his life. However, he realised his life is worth nothing if his good name is tainted. “How may I live without my...
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