Puritan Women’s Value of Piety Contradictory in the Crucible

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The Crucible presents women on a narrow spectrum reflecting the culture of the Puritan New England and the “cult of true womanhood.” Many of the play’s central conflicts exist because of limitations on the rights of women, and their low status in society. The status of the Puritan white male allows the infringement of women’s fundamental human rights to be overlooked by the public. The role of women and the theme of misogyny or distrust of women is an undercurrent theme in The Crucible. According to the ideals of the “cult of true womanhood”, women were supposed to embody perfect virtue in four cardinal aspects: piety, purity, submission, and domesticity. Piety maintained that a woman is more religious and spiritual than a man. Yet, in Miller’s play women were more susceptible to sin. Eve’s corruption, in Puritan eyes, extended to all women, and justified marginalization them within social avenues. In The Crucible, the ideal of femininity is presented within the traditional role of subservience, lack of voice, and suffering. The two female characters, Elizabeth Proctor and Tituba, both subordinate to their husbands and master, respectively, and in the religious life of both home and church. The fate of both characters; Elizabeth Proctor’s loss of her husband, and Tituba’s execution as a witch, provides a standing critique of the Puritan ideal of women being superior in embodying the Puritan religiosity juxtaposing the subordination of their gender.

The virtue of piety affirms that a woman is naturally religious. Consequently, it is a woman’s job to raise her children to be good Christians and keep her husband on a strait and narrow path. Wives are fully responsible if their husbands disobey the commandments, especially adultery. In The Crucible, this idea is reaffirmed with the character Elizabeth Proctor. Elizabeth is the ideal Puritan woman as she exemplified the principles of the piety, submissiveness, and purity. Throughout the play, she proves to be...
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