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Free Essay on The Crucible: The Deterioration of Social Structure

The deterioration of Salem’s social structure precipitated the murders of many innocent people. Arthur Miller’s depiction of the Salem witch trials, The Crucible, deals with a community that starts out looking like it is tightly knit and church loving. It turns out that once Tituba starts pointing her finger at the witches, the community starts pointing their fingers at each other. Hysteria and hidden agendas break down the social structure and then everyone must protect themselves from the people that they thought were their friends. The togetherness of the community, the church and legal system died so that the children could protect their families’ social status.

Being isolated from any other group of people with different beliefs created a church led Puritan society that was not able to accept a lot of change. The church was against the devil, at the same time it was against such things as dancing and other premature acts. The reputation of the family was very important to the members of the community. When the girls were caught dancing in the woods, they lied to protect not just themselves but the reputation of their families. They claimed that the devil took them over and influenced them to dance. The girls also said that they saw members of the town standing with the devil. A community living in a puritan society like Salem could easily go into a chaotic state and have a difficult time dealing with what they consider to be the largest form of evil.

Salem’s hysteria made the community lose faith in the spiritual beliefs that they were trying to strictly enforce. The church lost many of its parishioners because the interest of the town was now on Abigail because people wanted to know who was going to be named next. When the church was trying to excommunicate John Proctor, there were not enough people at church to do it. The people were getting misled so far as to leave a dagger stuck in the door of their minister’s house: “tonight, when I open my door to leave my house a dagger clattered to the ground…There is danger for me” (128), were Parris’ exact words. With the conveyer of God fearing for his life there was no longer anyone but Abigail to lead the community.

The justice system is designed to protect the people that it serves but during the trials the accused witch had two choices, death or imprisonment.

John Proctor as Tragic Hero of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

John Proctor as Tragic Hero of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

In the play, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, John Proctor fits the classic Greek definition of a tragic hero. Aristotle, one of the great Greek philosophers, teachers and writers, stated that one of the most important aspects of a tragedy was the tragic hero. He defined a tragic hero as a noble person that goes from a state of fortune and happiness to a state of utter misery. The character’s tragic flaw causes this change. Aristotle stated that witnessing the downfall of the character triggered an emotional release, which left the audience feeling relieved because they have empathized with the character, but not upset because the downfall was the character’s own doing. Throughout the ages, there have been a plethora of tragic heroes, but none fit the classic Greek definition better than John Proctor.

One characteristic of the tragic hero, which John Proctor possesses, is that he is a man of stature. This is evident from the very beginning of the play in the exposition about Proctor. The author says, “He was a kind man-powerful of body, even tempered and not easily led”(20). He goes on to say that he has a “quiet confidence and an unexpressed hidden force”(21). He is well respected in the community and Mr. Parris, the town Reverend, goes as far as to say that he has “followers”(30). Also, at the end of the play Parris and Danforth want to post his confession of being in league with the devil on the Church door because “It is a weighty name”(141). They feel that since Proctor is such a respected member of the community that his confession will restore the people’s confidence in the court and urge others to confess.

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…d from his past sin that god punishes men for their sins. He saw his conviction for witchcraft as punishment for his sin. He did not confess because he realized that the confession would be a lie and lying is a sin which god would punish him for.

In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, the character John Proctor exemplifies the qualities of the classic Greek Tragic Hero. He is a man of physical and mental stature and he is well respected in the community. He suffers from the tragic flaw of sin, the sin of adultery, which he committed with Abigail. He also learns from his mistakes and will not be lured to do evil, such as return to Abigail or confess to being a warlock.

Work Cited

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible: A Screenplay. New York: Penguin Books, 1996.

Source Consulted

The Crucible Project

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