The Crucible 3 Essay

981 words - 4 pages

In Miller's, The Crucible, he describes a New England town in the midst of Salem witch-hunt hysteria during the late 1600's. His play not only recounts the historic events but also specifically sheds light on the rationalization for this hysteria. In Miller's running commentary he describes the intent of the Puritans particularly accurately. In one specific statement, he says "they [the Puritans] believed, in short, that they held in their steady hands the candle that would light the world. We have inherited this belief and it has helped and hurt us." This statement proves itself to be particularly profound, for it manages to both accurately describe the actions of the Puritans, and relate it to our world today.To understand the implications of Mr. Miller when he discusses the Salem witchcraft trials as having an impact on our society, one must first completely understand the metaphor, and all of its implications. Clearly, the candle described represents their persecution of the witches, perhaps the burning flame a symbol of the power that the Puritans possessed. It was the divine light that emanated from this candle, that they believed they could use to expose the heretics and eventually remove them from their society. The darkness that supposedly befuddled good and evil would be eliminated, and everyone and everything in their society would be seen as it truly was. This was a very hopeful idea for most of the Puritans, for a rapid decline in church participation was simultaneously taking place. And as ministers tried as they could to convince "sinners" in New England to repent, they couldn't, and believed the devil was behind the loss of religious fervor that was so important when the colony was founded. Unfortunately for the Puritans, they were misfounded in their faith, for clearly the devil was not among them. It was their internal stress that provoked them to look for evil in their town, the class resentment present in New England was powerful, and was only multiplied by the events of the witchcraft hysteria. Furthermore, when the public began to doubt the truth of the accusers, and ultimately recognized that "it was pretense," they could not handle the implications. Perhaps it was the guilt of taking so many innocent women's lives, perhaps it was that their faith in God was wavered, perhaps all of the above; but for whatever reason, Salem was destroyed for these implications, and New England's stability as a whole was severely in jeopardy.The second part of Mr. Miller's quotation relates the events of the witchcraft trials to our time, saying "[how] we inherited this belief, and it has helped us and hurt us." Undeniably, Mr. Miller is correct when he states that we inherited the same need to know good and evil, and place a clear-cut reason for every occurrence. Part of this need is human nature. Everyone has their own story for the...

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