Moral Conflict In The The Crucible

2032 words - 8 pages

Moral Conflict in the The Crucible

Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, is a great portrayal of humans and their struggles. This

play takes place in the 1690’s in Salem, a small Puritan community based on a rigid social

system, where an outbreak of rumors claiming witchcraft contaminated the small village. The

witch hysteria was initiated by a group of young girls (headed by Abigail Williams,) who were

afraid of being accused of swaying from the strict regulations. This caused conflict among the

people of the community and ultimately resulted in absolute chaos. I am going to write about

three of the main characters, Reverend Hale, John Proctor and Mary Warren, who have some of

the most intense internal and external struggles in the play.

Reverend Hale’s battle is initiated by his personal commitment to God. In Act I, the

Reverend is described as an eager-eyed intellectual pondering the invisible world. Hale seeks

witches and gets them to confess, so god can bless them and rid them of the devil. An example of

this is when he said to Betty, “In nomine Domini Sabaoth sui filiique ite ad infernos,” which

means: In the name of the lord of hosts and his son get thee to the lower world. This shows

Reverend Hale’s views on witchery. He is a deeply religious man who was unrelenting in his

quest for the devil. Originally, Hale believed that there was witchcraft in the town and wanted to

drive it out. However as the play develops, Hale witnesses sincere and respectable townspeople

being sentenced and hanged. Hale tries to gain a perspective on those accused, by going to their

houses and putting questions to them, about their nature and religious behavior. He soon learns

that the court proceedings, lead by Judge Danforth were sending innocent people to their death,

in the name of Christianity. Here begins the Reverend’s inner turmoil. With scrutiny, he looks at

himself and tries to figure out which way to go. Should he continue with what he is doing and

listen to Judge Danforth or should he listen to his conscience? He does try a feeble attempt to

talk to Danforth and explain how the unjust the court actions are, but again, his inner struggle

pulls him back to a more moderate stand. Hale then decides to persuade the wrongly accused to

confess witchcraft. At least this will save them from death by hanging. He preaches perjury to

the people, even though this is also against their religion. Hale’s principles were ridden with guilt

and sadness because of his struggle with himself. Not only does Hale question himself, and

Danforth, but he questions his religion. Near the end of Act IV, Hale tells Elizabeth that

following religion is not worth it if religion can justify the death of so many innocent people

without credible evidence. This is the ultimate reproach, and Hale ends up leaving after the

hangings, with the weight of 19 innocent...

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