Moral Instruction in the Crucible

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Sydney Levy
IB Candidate #000536-XXX
HL English: World Literature Assignment
21 May 2013
Moral Instruction in The Crucible
The world-famous and highly influential play, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, was written in an effort to make the public aware of one of the most awful chapters in history, and the goal of the author was to use the characters and events as a vehicle to communicate the moral lessons that should be learned from these examples of flawed human behavior. Various themes and motifs that illustrate important morals are explored extensively throughout the play. The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is indeed considered a great piece of literary art and does inevitably give moral instruction through the author’s use of the themes and motifs of reputation, intolerance, and the seduction of power.

Reputation is tremendously important to citizens and people in positions of authority in Salem, a theocratic society where public and private moralities are one and the same. Focused on maintaining public reputation, the townsfolk of Salem must fear that the sins of their associates and acquaintances will taint their names, and the fear of guilt by association becomes particularly common. There are various characters that base their actions on the desire to protect their delicate reputations. As the play begins, Reverend Parris becomes concerned that his niece Abigail’s increasingly questionable actions, and the hints of witchcraft surrounding his daughter’s coma, will threaten his reputation as a good minister and force him from the pulpit. In Act I, Parris says, “I pray you leap not to witchcraft…They will howl me out of Salem for such corruption in my house…” (Miller 13). He does not want people to associate him, a priest, with any form of witchcraft, because in that society they associate practices of witchcraft with the Devil. Meanwhile, John Proctor, the protagonist, also seeks to keep his good name by not testifying against Abigail in order to...
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