The Crucible Essay

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Belonging- Crucible essay

It is instinctively assumed that belonging to the group can better protect the individual against external threats; however Arthur Miller’s The Crucible shows that such instinctive assumptions are flawed. The group can destroy itself without the voice of the individual, capable of thinking rationally, because the herd simply acts instinctively and its members conform out of fear of alienation or the very natural human desire to belong. The importance of the individual who stands against society is celebrated as they possess true moral decency and offer salvation to the group. These belonging insights are further explored in Shakespeare’s eponymous play Othello and Arthur Boyd’s power painting Persecuted Lovers 1957-1958. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible explores belonging as a protective force against externalised fears. The setting and imagery emphasise Salem’s many anxieties. The “virgin forest” is ironically, for the Salemites, “the Devil’s last preserve” where “abominations are done” and girls whose sexuality should be invisible are found “dancing” like “heathen[s]”. Into this “wilderness” come “maraud[ing] Indian tribes”, whose apparent barbarism and pagan beliefs threaten the villagers’ insular Protestant social order. Miller imitates this cultural hostility in the very weather: “a few small-windowed, dark houses snuggling against the raw Massachusetts winter”. Paradoxically, it is the Salem tragedy that theocracy was developed “for good purposes” to protect the villagers, but ironically it is the authorised institutions which inflict the most destruction. Salem is a frontier society on the “edge of wilderness” and it’s civilisation is threatened by a vast and dark “endless continent”. They believe, in contrast, that their unbending consistency, “all their sufferings” and their denial of “vain enjoyment” is “that they held in their steady hands the candle that would light the world”. They believe that their unity in spite of the...
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