The Crucible By Arthur Miller Essay

949 words - 4 pages

Arthur Miller based The Crucible upon the seventeenth century witch hunts that took place in the community of Salem – a small Puritan colony near Boston, Massachusetts. At that time Salem was a theocracy in which Christian moral was interpreted by the citizens as supreme. Miller this play as an allegory for Senator Joe McCarthy and his notorious “Red Scare” hearings of the twentieth century which accused many high-profile Americans of being dissident communist. In both situations people were being accused of heinous crimes with not much proof.
Miller begins the action early in the year of 1692 when a collection of girls from the colony fall victim to supposed hallucinations and seizures after dancing in the forest with a black female slave named Tituba. Suspicion surrounds Tituba and soon accusations and fears of witchcraft fill the staunchly religious colony. Abigail Williams, 17 years old and beautiful, appears to be the girls’ ringleader, and when Tituba and Abigail begin accusing various townsfolk of conspiring with the devil, the other girls join in. Soon, Salem is beset with jealousies, bitter quarrellings, and deeply held hatreds rise to the surface. Local farmer, John Proctor, is a deeply honest man and he suspects Abigail of being a fraud. However, Proctor has a guilty secret to protect – an affair with the juvenile Abigail when she was a servant in his house. This proves to be his tragic flaw. Jealous and vindictive, Abigail accuses Proctor’s wife of dealings with the devil, and as the hysteria grows, Proctor hesitates to expose Abigail in fear of having his secret exposed and losing his good name. Old grudges and religious zeal result in tragedy, as innocent people are hanged for witchcraft, others are jailed, and a community is left with its conscience in tatters.
with Abigail and the girls running into the woods to cast spells upon the boys they desire. As they begin to sacrifice a bird Reverend Paris disturbs them causing them to scatter into the woods without finishing the sacrifice. When they return to the town young Betty Paris will not wake sending her mother into frenzy. The doctor cannot diagnose Betty with any illness, so he agrees with the rest of the town that spell casting witches must be the cause of her inability to awaken. Paris confronts Abigail about what he witnessed in the woods. Abigail admits that they danced but did not summon the spirits. Hoping to find the witchcraft he is certain is the cause Rev. Parris calls in Rev. John Hale who is an expert at detecting witchcraft. Towards the middle of the first scene, Miller introduces John Proctor, the protagonist, who is a deeply honest man yet has had an affair with Abigail while his wife was ill. Miller uses this scene to reveal John Proctor’s tragic flaw; his...

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