Human Flaws in Arthur Miller's The Crucible
Many of the characters in Arthur Miller's The Crucible have specific human flaws that cause the tragedy of the Salem Witch Trials. The Salem villagers exhibit failings, including greed, vengeance, and fear, which eventually lead to the downfall of their town. Many villagers, especially Abigail Williams, take advantage of the opportunity to seek vengeance on others through the trials. Greed for power and land often holds precedence when the hysteria takes over. Fear of being arrested or put to death is the key motivation in turning others in as witches. From these three human flaws, the town of Salem falls into chaos with many innocent people paying the price.
Vengeance plays a key role in causing the mass hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials. Abigail Williams, who?s probably most to blame for the trials, acts out of revenge. She and John Proctor have had an affair and when Elizabeth Proctor finds out, she throws Abigail out of their house. During the trials, Abigail is still in love with John Proctor and goes after Elizabeth out of vengeance. Elizabeth tries to explain this to John, who is in disbelief: she ?thinks to kill me, then to take my place? (61). Abigail?s main motive for destroying Elizabeth is revenge for being thrown out of the house and for having John Proctor, the man that she loves. Another character who seeks revenge is Mrs. Putnam, who has had seven children die shortly after childbirth and blames her midwife, who has many children. Rebecca Nurse is charged ?for the marvelous and supernatural murder of Goody Putnam?s babies? (71). The trials are an opportunity for Ann Putnam to seek vengeance against Rebecca for having healthy children and grandchildren. The charge of witchcraft against Rebecca Nurse also satisfies Ann Putnam?s need to blame someone for the deaths of her own children. The Salem Witch Trials offer an excellent opportunity for members of the community to act on their desires to get revenge.
Greed is another human failing that leads to the false accusations of the trials. Thomas Putnam uses the hysteria to his advantage by prompting his daughter, Ruth, to accuse people of witchcraft in order to take their land. Giles Corey points this out to the judges:
?My proof is there!? Pointing to the paper. ?If Jacobs hangs for a
witch he forfeit his property---that?s law! And there is none but Putnam with the coin to buy so great a piece. This man is killing his neighbors for their for their land!?. (96)
Putnam is completely controlled by his greed and doesn?t care who is hurt or even killed, as long as he gets more land. The...