The Predicament of Justice
Standing by one’s beliefs during a time of arising chaos, especially when they go against the majority of society, could result in one’s inevitable death. This message, along with many others, is conveyed throughout Arthur Miller’s brilliant play, The Crucible. His script focuses on the universal ideas of justice and witchcraft, both known to have existed during the Salem Witch Trials. Throughout the play, many characters’ moral strength is tested, and the local inhabitants of Salem, Massachusetts begin to lie and blame those innocent. People like Abigail Williams and Judge Danforth begin to accuse the innocent, and subsequently, the convicted are hanged due to their lack of confession. The people of Salem, whose inherent human qualities of greed and lying become evident over the course of the executions, indirectly create a monstrosity of violence. Under the pressure of court officials and high profile society members, many of the accused save themselves by lying and blaming others. The biggest offender of deceitfulness is Abigail. In fact, even before the court case, she blames Tituba: “instantly Abigail points at Tituba. She made me do it! She made Betty do it” (Miller 43). Abigail insists that she is a “proper girl” and that Tituba is the one at fault. To avoid her name from being blackened, Abigail abruptly blames the person she knows of the lowest class, hoping to escape the situation with as little punishment as possible. Abigail understands that Tituba will not be believed, and that she will also have a much greater punishment than others accused for the same crime. Without fearing Abby’s intimidating reputation, the girls would most likely expose Abby for her true self, and the upper class society members in Salem would bring her to court. Abigail’s true intentions are discovered once the girls are alone and Betty states, “You drank blood Abby! You didn’t tell him that! You drank a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife” (19). Once Betty reveals Abigail’s true intentions to the others, Abigail is left with nothing to defend herself, and as a result, she begins to slap Betty across the face and threatens all the other girls to “not breathe a word…about the other things” (20). Abby’s choice of words, as shown in the previous lines, help display her true character. Her boldness and intimidating figure make the others leap “with hysterical fright,” and Abby’s “bullying nature” strengthens as she becomes more and more agitated. Abigail’s presence of authority among the girls leads the others to believe what she wants them to believe, due to either their acknowledged respect for her or the fear that Abigail puts into them. Mary Warren, who is often put through great deal of stress throughout The Crucible, chooses to lie and appear innocent in order to save herself from being convicted. While in the court with Proctor, Mary Warren is questioned by Judge Danforth on her (and the other girls) lies about witchery. Danforth reflects on the matter as they try to search the truth within Mary: “You tell me that you sat in my court, callously lying…Do you not know that God damns all liars…You cannot lightly say you lied, Mary” (101-102). His words clearly display the stress forced upon her, making her feel as if she was condemned by God. This pressure upon Mary soon increases due to the fact that she is a “subservient, naive, lonely girl” who would be more susceptive to intimidation. To repair the damage that she has brought upon herself, Mary chooses to turn against her morals and lie again by accusing John Proctor of associating with the Devil. She tells the others about how Proctor is “the Devil’s man,” and how he apparently told Mary that he would murder her “if [his] wife hangs! We must go and overthrow the court” (119). She uses the idea of Proctor wanting to “overthrow the court” to scare the judges and focus their attention on Proctor rather than herself. When it comes to...
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