The Crucible by Arthur Miller

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“The conflict created when the will of an individual opposes the will of the majority is a recurring feature of drama.” Identify such a conflict in a non-Shakespearean play you have studied and show how the dramatist deals with the implications for both the character and the society.

Arthur Miller in ‘The Crucible,’ deals with the internal/external conflicts of protagonist John Proctor, during the witch trials of Salem; showing the effects of “an individual opposed to the will of the majority.” Through the mass hysteria caused by Abigail, corruption of justice and weakness of man; we see clearly the effects of fear and how Miller’s work translates into his own situation, during the introduction of McCarthyism.

The most dominant outward human conflict between individual and society, is shown as Proctor defies the church and judicial authorities. On first introduction to John Proctor, Miller’s notes suggest that he “need not have been a partisan of any faction in the town, but there is evidence to suggest that he had a sharp and biting way with hypocrites.” Particularly the character of Reverend Parris, who’s teachings of “hell fire and damnation” are attacked by Proctor. Religiously opposed to this ‘baptism by fire‘, Proctor stands alone against the majority theocratic beliefs of Salem. Paris- “there is a faction in this town against me”

Proctor- “Then I must join it.”
This is quite a contrast to Proctor’s attempts to not affiliate himself with the affairs of Salem. Arthur Miller also had contrasting ideas to what was considered acceptable politically, holding an interest in communism rather than the democratic view.

The weakness of man becomes evident in situations alike to that of Proctor and Miller’s fight against the majority belief. A weakness revealed by the inability to not accept the alternative views of others or control fear of the strength of an individual. This acts as proof that societal problems can be traced to individual human failings....
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