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Free Essays on The Crucible: The Self Betrayal of John Proctor

The Crucible: Self Betrayal

This research paper will examine how the theme in Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, shows how “…betrayal of the self no less than of others” (Bigsby xi), is connected to both McCarthyism in the 1950’s and the Salem witch trials in the 1690’s. The Puritans were a group that had suffered religious persecution in the Old World and came to America to establish their own religion in a place where they would be free of any type of persecution. Because of the personal persecution they endured in England, the puritans in turn became the persecutors when they were in America. The Puritans were the type of people who felt that there way of life was absolutely right, and all other ways were wrong. If you were not a member in good standing with the church, you were not allowed to remain in the community. The Puritans had two major beliefs, The Doctrine of the Elect and Theocracy. The Doctrine of the Elect better known as predestination or foreordination is the belief that when a person is born or at any time later in their life, they might be chosen by God to become one of the Elect, which is one of the people who would receive divine salvation. Those who were not among the select would not receive divine salvation. There is nothing that a person could do to be chosen, it was entirely predestined by God. No amount of good works, righteous living or moral behavior could help a person achieve this status. Since no one knew if they were one of the Elect, everyone lived a good life in order to be prepared for being elected when the day came. The Puritans also believed that if God could elect certain people to be saved, then the Devil could select certain people to be bewitched. The Devil, to the Puritans, was an active enemy to mankind because they accepted the story that the Devil was once one of God’s angels who had fallen from grace, and that now the Devils job is to continually try to destroy what God has made. Reverend Hale reiterates upon this when he says to Proctor “…remember, until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven.”(Miller 68) The Puritans second belief is that of Theocracy. Theocracy is the belief in a government that is totally controlled by the church.

Free Essays on The Crucible: Dangers of Intolerance Exposed

The Crucible: The Dangers of Intolerance

By detailing an incident that occurred in the village of Salem, Massachusetts, Arthur Miller provides great insights into the

phenomenon of mass hysteria in his play, The Crucible. In this story, Miller illustrates how different people react to mass

hysteria. Some people participate in the hysteria out of fear. Others think more rationally and try to find an explanation. But no

one can escape the dreadful impact of such event. Miller demonstrates how fear, intolerance, and frustration can cause people

to first neglect, and then accept their personal responsibilities.

John Proctor, a main protagonist in the story, realizes how dangerous the witchcraft accusations are when the court officials arrest his wife, Elizabeth, for witchcraft and attempted murder: “‘…The little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!…I’ll not give my wife to vengeance!’’’ (Miller 77). John Proctor is fearful for his wife. Before his wife was arrested, John was really unaware of the extent of danger behind the accusations of witchcraft in the village. At first, he feels suspicious about the hysterical girls’ behavior, but the fact that the trials did not directly affect his family makes him handle the events less seriously. Elizabeth’s arrest was a wake up call for John because now he is alert and aware that the witchcraft accusations must be stopped because innocent people are being put to death.

As he reacts to his wife’s arrest, he makes a very important decision. It is up to him to protest against the ongoing trials because no one else will. He then discovers that Mary Warren, the family’s servant knows much about the trials because of her role as an officer of the court. “‘You’re coming with me, Mary, you will tell it in the court…We will slide together into our pit; you will tell the court what you know.’’’ (80). John discovers that Mary knows that he witchcraft accusations are false. He then comes to this decision that it is his responsibility, as well as Mary Warren’s, to tell the court that the hysteria in Salem is based on lies and false accusations. It is because of a fear for Elizabeth’s life that John realizes his individual responsibility to save his wife, as well as to protect other innocent people from being accused and sentenced to death.

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