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The Crucible 6

  • Date Submitted: 02/14/2011 08:20 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 50.2 
  • Words: 878
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Arthur Miller’s play ‘The crucible’, a classic allegory of mass hysteria draws a chilling parallel between the Salem witch hunt of 1692-‘one of the most strongest and awful chapters in human history’-and the McCarthyism which gripped America in the 1950s. He comments on the deleterious effects on society of authority and dissent, sustained all the way through trepidation by exploiting the liberty of its members. He achieves this by basing his characters on people who actually lived through the chronicles of the horrors of the Salem witch trials, to comment explicitly on Joseph McCarthy and the activities of HUAC, and civilization in general, to warn that those who don’t learn from the past are bound to repeat it.
Einstein once said that “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth”, this is clearly represented by the trials, then, in which the girls are allowed to act as though they have a direct connection to God, empower the previously powerless Abigail. She is an orphan and an unmarried girl; she thus occupies a low rung on the Puritan Salem social ladder. Throughout the hysteria, Abigail’s motivations never seem more complex than simple jealousy and a desire to have revenge on Elizabeth Proctor. And when the court ‘’rely upon her victims’’ (90) believing on dubious ‘‘spectral evidence’’, she is elevated to a position of power. She threatens the other girls warning them of a ‘’pointy reckoning’’ (26) if they dare ‘breathe a word’ to anyone about it. It wasn’t until Elizabeth, a woman who has ‘never lied in her life’ is forced to tell ‘’a natural lie’’ to save her husband that Miller questioned the empowerment of deceit over the truth.
Miller uses the paranoid, power-hungry, yet oddly self-pitying Reverend Samuel Parris to argue that the fear of a church that believed in witchcraft was the root cause of the lies in the first place.         The girls believe Abigail’s lies as a way of avoiding penalty. It is the same fear that forces Tituba...


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