Conflict Is the Heart of Drama

Topics: The Crucible, Salem witch trials, Elizabeth Proctor Pages: 3 (1008 words) Published: July 9, 2008
In the play, ‘The Crucible,’ written by Arthur Millar, conflict is the cornerstone around which the text is moulded. Although most of the conflicts are external, there are also examples of severe internal conflict, as can be seen in Millar’s protagonist character, John Proctor. Mary Warren, Proctor’s servant-girl, is also a victim of internal conflict within the play. Proctor, in addition, is involved in external conflict too, between him and Judge Danforth, him and Elizabeth Proctor, and him and the Court of Salem. Each of these conflicts are crucial to the plot, and when represented, complicate the action of the text towards its final resolution.

Internal conflict, in Proctors’ case, acts as a battle within his mind, with one side trying to overpower the other. In Act Two, John is faced with the decision to denounce Abigail, and consequently himself, to the court, and end the mounting number of witch-craft accusations. However, his pride overpowers his conscience and he stands mute, explaining to Elizabeth that he has “good reason to think before I charge fraud on Abigail.” His decision is based on his affection for Abby, and his self-preservation of his good name. Fortunately his decision is only temporary and his “good” side gaining victory over his “bad” side as he watches his wife being arrested as a witch and thrown into prison. He realised he is to blame by not having confessed earlier. Thus Proctor returns to the court, tells of his affair with Abby displaying her motivations to kill Elizabeth, “She thinks to dance on my wife’s grave with me.” The outcome of John’s procrastination is serious in that it severely damages his upright reputation whilst not freeing any of the accused. This highlights the importance of recognizing a right course and acting upon it swiftly.

Another victim of internal conflict in the play is Mary Warren, who struggles in her choice to confess and expose her friends’ deceit. At the beginning of Act Two, Mary feels a new...
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