Extended Essay

Topics: The Crucible, Salem witch trials, Witchcraft Pages: 6 (2374 words) Published: August 13, 2013

In this extended essay I will undertake a detailed analysis of some of the major themes in The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Hysteria and, the oppressive nature of society are all addressed by the playwright, However, the theme of the power struggle, principally, individuality vs society is paramount. I also wanted to discuss how relevant the themes and the characteristics in the crucible are in the real modern and social world. This vital theme dominates the play. In 1950, the United States and the USSR faced off against each other as enemies in the Cold War. The tensions generated as each vied for the title of Superpower continued unabated until the end the war in the early 1990's. The Americans wanted to keep Communism in check and prevent it from enroaching on their lives. In order to allay fears of another major dispute with Russia, all those suspected of supporting Communism were imprisoned by Senator McCarthy, irrespective of proof to the contrary. The incidence resembled the absurdity of the situation in Salem almost two centuries ago and McCarthy’s ludicrous actions were consequentially labelled as a “witch-hunt”. Miller opposed the techniques of McCarthyism, whose aims were to label opponents of his ideologies as communists just as those who opposed the authority of Salem were perceived to indulge in witch craft. In 1692, the town of Salem was chiefly governed by the Church, which if not in total control, had most of the control of the town. Every church was supposed to be independent, but they all abided by the same precise rules of conduct and faith. Salem was ruled by theocracy. This is an area where religion is law. Salem was different from other Puritan colonies, as the law system and religion are two different things in those colonies. Thus, in Salem, the verdicts were made through how god would look at the crime, instead of doing it according to the situation and the apt proof. Salem was ruled by and was united by Christianity, this was the paramount reason for individuality to be disregarded. The powerful people could change massive decisions of the town, as seen in the town. The Putnam’s alter many decisions with their power. The most powerful people in Salem believed that to be united, the people had to follow stringent rules in order to maintain peace. Thus, if an individual was not in favor of Christianity or was practicing another religion, he/she was looked down upon by society. Any members of society who opposed these norms or even digressed from them were severely punished and tortured. The punishments included, beheading and imprisonment for life. During those days, women were given no opportunity for individuality. Leading a personal life in Salem, was claimed to be sinful and was not accepted by the church. Religion governed the law, and anyone who went against the church, was directly going against the law. This show that Salem was a surely a village that restrained individuality in order maintain peace and order. In the play, Arthur Miller portrays the relationship between the individual and the society, depicting how pressure caused individuals to conform to what society supposed of them and how values and ethics can disappear in a menacing conformism. In the book, the people of Salem have been made to live a way of life with no independence and individuality, and are oppressed to follow rules and regulations. There also a form of social pressure portrayed in the book, as various religious rules are enforced onto the people of Salem by Parris. Thus, the people aren’t given any opportunity to express their individuality and the author has depicted this very distinctively. Individuals are people who are set apart from other people of society. Their different set of morals and values distinguishes them and makes them unique compared to the rest of society. Due to the numerous oppressions and the corruptness of the church and court, no one could make their...
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