The Crucible Essay

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The Crucible
Ashley Mizuno

In a time when God ruled the world, those who dissented faced a certain end. Some hold secrets that if discovered, will destroy the very center of all they hold dear. Dancing in the forest, girls who will not wake, secret relationships, and claims of witchcraft all lead to the destruction of a community. In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, written during the McCarthy Era, this is exactly what happens. Reverend Parris catches a group of girls dancing in the forest, and the word spread like a cataclysmic conflagration. From then on, denizen of Salem accused each other of witchcraft, claiming that their neighbors are communing with the devil, killing babies, and other ludicrous and unbelievable crimes. As a hurricane gathers wind and celerity, so did the desire to accuse, condemn, and convict. The desire foments the most unbelievable accusations, becoming a mass hysteria. The reactions to the mass hysteria exacerbate the problem. In The Crucible, religion is woven into everyday life. If you did not follow one of the rules, that can be used as evidence for much greater sin, the exact result for John Proctor. In Salem during the witch trials, to be accused was to be guilty. To be guilty meant death. And the only way to avoid death was to confess. Reputation is the way that other people identify and see you. By being accused, your reputation is on the line. By confessing, you are showing the community that you are no longer with the devil, and you are with God. During the witch trials, hysteria, religion, and reputation are what the people of Salem thrive on. Because of them, the truth gets completely off track and a lot of innocent people are accused and some of them even murdered. Puritan society demands that its members follow strict rules of social order, centering on a set of clearly states rules: you go to church every Sunday, you do not work on the Sabbath, you believe the Gospel, you respect the minister’s word like it was God’s, etc. Those who do not follow the rules and guidelines are thought to be deleterious and seen as a threat to the community. They must be guilty of sin and must be communing with the devil. Therefore, they must be stopped or eliminated. In The Crucible, those accused and convicted of witchcraft were mostly people who place their private thoughts and integrity above the will of the Puritan society. The Crucible is based on theocracy, in which a deity, or God, is officially recognized as the civil Ruler. The book is based on the principle that some people should be included and other people should be omitted from society based solely on their religious beliefs. “The Salem tragedy…developed from a paradox…Simply, it was this: the people of Salem developed a theocracy, a combine of state and religious power whose function was to keep the community together, and to prevent any kind of disunity that might open it to destruction by material or ideological enemies. It was forged for a necessary purpose and accomplished that purpose. But all organization is and must be grounded on the idea of exclusion and prohibition, just as two objects cannot occupy the same space…..the witch-hunt was a perverse manifestation of the panic which set in among all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater individual freedom” (I. 6-7). The narrator explains how a theocracy leads to a tragedy like the Salem witch-hunts. In other words, religious beliefs and the passion for it results in tragedy. Mr. Hale comes to Proctor and Goody Proctor’s house to question them because Goody Proctor’s name has been mentioned in the court. He wants to judge for himself whether she could be communing with the devil or not. As Hale questions them, he starts to question them about their three boys. Hale wonders why only two of them are baptized, and Proctor admits that “[he] like it not that Mr. Parris should lay his hand upon [Proctor’s] baby. [He] see no light of God in that man. [He’ll] not...
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