During the year 1692, in small town called Salem located in Massachusetts, several young girls fell ill. They experienced seizures and hallucinations and the town attributed it to the devil or evil spirits. Arthur Miller’s book, The Crucible, tells the story of these girls and the series of hearings and trials that destroyed the town. A critical theme in The Crucible is the role that hypocrisy can play in tearing apart a community even though the people of Salem are of Puritan belief, they practice and claim to have moral standards but they do not conform to them.
The people of Salem are of strong Puritan belief and display overcritical moral beliefs. These people will do anything to protect their reputation so they do not tarnish their community. After seeing the girls dancing in the forest Parris who is supposed to be a pious head of the religious community, recognizes the possibility that witchcraft is being practiced in his own household, and he worries about the possible danger to his reputation if the townsfolk learn that his daughter and niece could be consorting with the devil, which is shown when he says, “Abigail, I have fought here three long years to bend these stiff-necked people to me, and now, just now when some good respect is rising for me in the parish, you compromise my very character” (1.63-66). Early on in the play we learn that Elizabeth has a very high moral standard and that she is incapable of lying. The one moment in Elizabeth’s life when telling the truth would save her life, she lies to save her husband’s reputation. This is shown when Danforth asks Elizabeth if her husband had ever turned from her, she replied, “My husband is a goodly man” (III. 415). Parris and Elizabeth both do not show any integrity in either scene. Parris yells at his niece, Abigail, because of the crime she committed but the real reason he was angry was because he didn’t want her actions to tarnish his reputation. Elizabeth lied in a courtroom just to help...
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