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The Crucible 6 Essay

892 words - 4 pages

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 ...view middle of the document...

It is the same fear that forces Tituba to confess and same fear that creates the frenzy that spreads the town like wild fire and forces people to ‘’give names’’ . Danforth is motivated by the same fear that convinced him that he is doing right in rooting out witchcraft although other part of him fears that his authority will be undermined if he admits the truth that he has condemned innocent people to death. He refuses to absolve the guilty because it “must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now.” (P.113). finally, though, it is Rev Hale who is shown to be utterly corrupted by the power of fear when he counsels the condemned to lie in order to save their lives as Elizabeth observes, he uses “the Devil’s argument” (P.115). In this scene, Miller positions his audience to understand Hale’s insincerity as a means of self defence, at the same time as he is profoundly critical of it.
In a sense, The Crucible has the structure of a classical tragedy, with John Proctor as the play’s tragic hero. It is through the character of John Proctor that Miller condemns lies and the abuse of supremacy and asserts the freedom of conscience and personal integrity. Honest, upright and blunt-spoke, Proctor is a good man, but one with a secret fatal flaw. Once the trials begin and Abigail’s jealousy of his wife Elizabeth sets the entire hysteria in motion, Proctor realises that he can stop Abigail’s rampage by proclaiming his guilt of committing adultery with her; “She thinks to dance with me on my wife’s grave” (P.98). Only...

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