The Crucible: Relevant Historical Allegory Essay

1691 words - 7 pages

The Crucible

The Crucible: Relevant Historical Allegory
“The Crucible” by Arthur Miller is a historically motivated play presenting a shocking view of human nature and of what a community of otherwise vibrant and civilized people of faith and moral principle are capable of when insecurity, fear, prejudice and superstition are introduced. Arthur Miller is concerned about what he perceives to be a weakness in the moral fabric of America, he sees a people dedicated to a belief in freedom and yet vulnerable to hysterical violence against dissenters. The literary setting in “The Crucible” is a peaceful religious community in colonial Salem, Massachusetts which degrades into a frantic ...view middle of the document...

Those who did not were blacklisted. In 1956, John Elsom tells us that Arthur Miller was tried before the house for being a communist sympathizer. He refused to name others who had been at particular communist meetings years before and was convicted of contempt. The trials were a severe test or trial for him (Elsom 99). Like John Proctor, he had not looked to be tested but felt very strongly about only taking responsibility directly for his own actions and refused to ruin others. He said during his trial that “I could not use the name of another and bring trouble on him. I take the responsibility of everything I have ever done, but I cannot take the responsibility for another human being.”[Proctor acted very similarly in his trial] “'I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another” (Miller, Arthur 141). Proctor like Miller in his own life experience could see beyond the hysteria concerning ridiculous accusations and like Proctor he was not prepared to betray others to save himself (Bentley 147). The rights of the individual must be guarded and honored. In uncertain times, there appears some scapegoat on which to blame a feeling of lack of security, it was the devil in Salem and Communists in 1950's America, and in our days perhaps Al Qaeda terrorists in post 9-11 America.

Actually, “The Crucible” is more of a melodramatic morality play than a historical narrative, in which the characters are intended to be dramatized symbols of good and evil. The dynamic of the melodrama is moral quandary, emotional terrorism and struggle, emerging from ‘crucible’ situations. The dramatization of evil appears in Abigail and other young girls who had been caught dancing in the moonlight and blamed their behavior to the influence of Satan (Miller, Arthur 10). To cover up their own misbehavior, innocent people are accused and convicted of witchcraft on the most absurd testimony, together with the testimony of those who themselves meddled in witchcraft and are therefore doubly to be distrusted. When Abigail was accused of witchcraft, she threatened the other girls’ lives if they told. Abigail was so afraid of getting in trouble that she would sacrifice someone’s life to avoid it. The fear that they spread ends up preying upon the fears and dominating the lives of everyone in the puritan community causing people to do things out of character.
Moreover, added to the moral crucible of the drama is an adulterous relationship between young Abigail and John Proctor as motivation for Abigail’s public denunciation of John and his wife Elizabeth. Abigail’s credibility is placed in doubt when Proctor confesses to adultery. Unfortunately, his wife Elizabeth testified differently out of fear of not knowing what else to do and wanting to keep her husband alive. She told everyone that she had no clue that her husband committed adultery with Abigail. She wasn't sure what was said about the situation so to spare her husband’s life, she did something completely out of her...

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