A Look Into The Crucible

Many can agree that Arthur Millers, The Crucible is nothing short of a true masterpiece. I must agree that his style of writing, the book itself being written in the form of a play, is outstanding and truly something that most people find easy to read and comprehend dialogue. The story is marvelous and it utilizes climax and grabs hold of the readers interest from the very beginning.
Let’s start with the characters. While there are many, the main few are John Proctor, Abigail Williams, Reverend Hale, Reverend Parris, Judge Hawthorne, Judge Danforth, Elizabeth Proctor, Mary Warren, Anne Putnam, Putnam, and Tituba(feel free to add others in the comments if you wish). These characters that he presents one by one throughout the story are incredibly well-developed and share a human quality which connects the reader to their emotions and thoughts. We can see that John Proctor is torn between his past relationship with Abigail Williams, though he is married and wishes to keep true and honest to his new wife. His struggle is very evident throughout the story, and it gives us a very clear sense of how he feels, and how he is tormented by the past. He doesn’t want to remember that he ever had anything to do with Abigail, though he knows that he can never wipe it from his life. This is true especially when John goes into town to investigate the occurrence of the rising suspicion of witchcraft, before the real trials begin. Shortly after he arrives, he is confronted by Abigail privately, and she recalls vividly how much Proctor had once lusted for her, and yet all he does is turn away and refuse to admit that such a thing could ever have happened, and we know that guilt tugs at his heart. He tries hard to leave it all behind, but with the hysteria going on, it was all coming back, and much too quickly for anyone’s comfort.
The witch trails themselves were terrible and awful things, and in The Crucible, we can see the full extent of their impact from the views of the people who were unfortunate enough to be ensnared by them. Though it is far from being a historical account, the fear you can see so clearly in the dialogue of those accused is so real and of human nature, that its almost as if they were taken straight from the real person’s mouth. How truly terrifying it must have been to be accused of witchcraft, one of the most sinful things anyone could partake in, by your own neighbor or friend. To stand there and be pressed to confess a horrible act. To walk to the gallows, feeling the tight embrace of the rope around your neck, and feel the ground before you slip away, as you take your last breath.
Abigail Williams, who, in the novel, started the whole ordeal with witchcraft, we learn had an affair with Proctor, which was broken swiftly when Proctors wife sent her out of her house, leaving her without a job, for Abigail had been a servant in the Proctor house for some time. Her loathing for Elizabeth was intense, so much that she wished her dead, perhaps to reunite herself with Proctor once again. When she is found in the woods with the Parris’ slave from Barbados, Tituba, with several other girls, dancing and casting spells of enchantment, the village went into crisis, as one of the girls, Parris’ own daughter, lays in bed, as if asleep, and will not wake. The girls all realized the danger they were in, for dancing was a sin in Puritan belief, let alone casting spells to kill a woman. As Betty, the girl lying in bed, begins to act strangely, claiming she would fly to her dead mother, almost throwing herself out of the window, Parris begins to wonder what could be ailing her so. Even when he calls in the doctor, he can find no physical harm or disease upon her, and makes the conclusion that the ailment must be of a “spiritual nature.” This in itself is the straw that broke the camels back, the spark that started the fire, for the kindling of suspicion and fear had been growing rapidly over the past few days. When Parris calls in Hale from Beverly to look into the possibility of “unholy spirits” within the town, everyone goes into a panic, and people begin to suspect Satan might have hold over Salem.
The human element again is something that Arthur Millers is able to convey with ease is a great benefit to his writing, as there is no difficulty in realizing the emotions of the characters, which range from confused to horrified. There are those characters, however, that can grasp the concept that perhaps this whole thing is not something to worry about, and simply the result of girls in the need of attention, mixed in with the hype over the unknown. For instance of this example, we can look at Sarah Nurse, an old woman who, in the very beginning, hopes that everyone will eventually be able to see the error in delving to far into peoples’ fears. She suggests that they “look to themselves” for the answer, though her subtle warning of the troubles to come if they did not was not heeded. By the time Salem would, it would be too late, and she herself would be a victim to the gallows first.
Though in the end, reason comes to the people at last, and they feel the guilt of having taken so many innocent lives, the smudge on the history of Salem would never be erased, and to this day, both the actual witch trials and The Crucible are famous for one of the most infamous periods in America’s history. Even though we look down at it with disdain now, it was only about 320 years ago, which, in perspective of the world’s history, is not that long ago. What might we do today that will be looked down at in the future?
Overall, I highly recommend The Crucible, and commend English teachers who have their class read it. It is a timeless tale of the darker side of our minds, and a view into a world fueled by fear.


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