individual against society
The theme of the individual against society is central to the play. Throughout we find evidence of the pressures on individuals to conform to what society expects from them. For example: girls are not allowed to dance, books other than the Bible are frowned upon, John Proctor is distrusted by many because he does not go to church regularly. This last example is taken very seriously because the society that Proctor lives in is built on religious principles. Anyone choosing to stray from going to church could be seen as rejecting religion and in doing so would also be rejecting and finding fault with the society that they lived in. This theme is then conveyed through the character of John Proctor. He realises he will have to take a stand against society in order to be true to himself. During the play John Proctor is called on to denounce his own wife, his friends and finally himself. He is put through an ordeal by conscience, eventually accepting his own death rather than make a false confession.
This theme is also conveyed through the setting and plot. Set in the small, tight knit community of Salem, the play's setting provides an appropriately claustraphobic atmosphere for the events that take place. The world of Salem is enclosed by strict moral and religious codes which inevitably encourage the growth of hypocrisy and the abuse of power. The confined setting of the play effectively reinforces the trapped emotional state of the principle characters.
A theme strongly linked with that of the indivdual and society. The characters of Elizabeth and John Proctor are both very strong but flawed individuals who have come to terms with their own weaknesses. Each is put to the test as is their marriage which survives despite, or perhaps, because of, what each has to suffer. The play charts the growth in self-knowledge of both these characters and explores the nature of their guilt, their pain, and above all