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"The Crucible" Literary Techniques Essay

1192 words - 5 pages

The theme, or subject matter, of a literary work is a very important element. This theme may attempt to teach a reader a lesson about life, such as nobility, hypocrisy, or fear. One such literary work that utilizes these themes is Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.Miller wishes to show the reader that fear and suspicion are infectious and can produce a state of general hysteria that results in the destruction of public order and rationality. As soon as Betty and Ruth become unconscious and a story about dancing in the forest is revealed, the entire town of Salem goes into shock. Fear of witchcraft spreads like wildfire, and eventually several people are imprisoned and hung. Even the neighboring town of Andover is faced with a similar situation regarding witchcraft. The situation had become so bad due to the fact that enemies could be dealt with by simply accusing them of witchcraft. Proctor realizes this during his wife’s arrest and shouts, “This warrant’s / vengeance! I’ll not give my wife to vengeance!” (2.1127). Giles Corey also knows this, as he professes to Danforth, “This man / is killing his neighbors for their land!” (3.1138).People who claim to be pious and virtuous may in fact be guilty of hypocrisy. This theme of the play speaks of how Abigail, although highly respected in the court, is actually a liar and guilty of adultery with John Proctor. Miller uses an allusion to the Bible, saying that in court, “where she walks the crowd will part like the sea for Israel” (2.1115). This allusion shows that the majority of people thought Abigail to be almost holy, like Moses who parted the Red Sea. Yet, in reality, Abigail is no such saint. She threatens the girls to go along with her witchcraft plan, saying, “I will bring a / pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you / know I can do it” (1.1097). She is also guilty of premarital sex with John Proctor. Proctor feels badly about this event, and tries to make it seem as if it did not happen, yet Abigail wishes to have him again. “Proctor: We never touched, Abby. / Abigail: Aye, but we did,” proving that Abigail is guilty of these relations (1.1099).Another theme of The Crucible is that it is more noble to die with integrity than it is to compromise one’s principles in order to live. For this reason, John Proctor did not confess to witchcraft to save his life, but instead died. If he were to live, he would be forced to lie and say he dealt with the devil, and falsely accuse others of the same thing. While confessing to witchcraft to Danforth, Proctor is asked whom else he saw with the devil. Proctor says, “They / think to go out like / saints. I like not to spoil their names…I speak my own / sins; I cannot judge another” (4.1165). Here he is shown as a noble man who would not do harm to another. Rather than cast aside his values to save his life, Proctor lived and died according to his principles. Rather than...

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