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Human Nature Illustrated In Arthur Miller's The Crucible

677 words - 3 pages

Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, focuses on the inconsistencies and injustice of the 1692 witch trials of Salem, Massachusetts. The restrictive Puritan society of Salem in the 17th century was based upon religious intolerance, where faith was demonstrated through physical labour and by strict adherence to religious doctrine. Material, physical and sexual desires were considered the Devil’s work and a threat to the very fabric of society. In summary, it is said that Puritanism discouraged individualism on all levels. The literal way in which the Bible was interpreted by the Puritans, provides a paradox within the play. This is because although the Bible says “thou shalt not kill,” the people of Salem are willing to sentence innocent people to death without trial or proper evidence. The play explores the extreme behaviour that can result from desires and hidden agendas within the Puritan society of Salem. In the context of the play, the title, The Crucible, takes on a new meaning. It is defined as a severe test, one which is designed to reveal an individual’s true character. The witch trials serve as a metaphorical Crucible. Consequentially, mankind’s greatest challenge is to defend its own beliefs. Thus, staying true to one’s self is the most virtuous act humanely possible.
This response, through the exploration of the main themes of the play, truth and justice, in relation to the main character John Proctor, aims to prove that man, in no way, can ignore or isolate his responsibility or duty to establish truth and justice in the face of turmoil and sacrifice.
The girls at the beginning of the play, avoided punishment by accusing others of the very things they were guilty of themselves. This desperate act of self-preservation resulted in the mass paranoia and atmosphere that gripped Salem for the continuance of the witch trials. By allowing audiences to see how dark desires and hidden agendas subsequentially drive people, Miller explores human motivation and the behaviour that results from it. Ironically, it is desire, sexual, material and physical desire...

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