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The Crucible And The West Memphis Three

1163 words - 5 pages

Revenge, the abuse of authority and the desire for power are all present in both Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible and the case regarding the West Memphis Three.
To understand the connection you need to know something about the case. Three young boys were murdered on May 5, 1993 (Leveritt 5). They were stripped of their clothing, their hands were bound and they were forced underwater in the nearby creek where they stayed until they were found the next day. Little evidence was collected the day of their discovery, what was recovered was mislabeled and handled incorrectly. The boys were laying in the open elements for 3 hours before they saw any kind of medical examiner (Leveritt 23). Later, three teenagers (Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley) were tried with only an inaccurate confession (that was later recanted) and uninformed tips from concerned citizens (Robertson 2). They decided to enter Alford guilty pleas after repeat accusations and little other option (Robertson 3). They became known as the “West Memphis Three.”
Many abused The West Memphis Three case to gain power and make a name for themelves. Because of the nautre of the case, it gained a lot of media attention. This attention was mostly due to the fact that the events occurred in such a small, bible belt community. No one knew anything about the occult and definitely didn’t have the capacity to understand it because of the religious bias clouding their judgment. The severity and graphic nature of the boys murders also played a key role in the media’s attention. Nothing like this had ever happened in West Memphis.
As a result of all these things, everyone took interest in the case and wanted to exploit the attention it was getting. A documentary, Paradise Lost, was even made (Robertson 2). Also, a couple of filmmakers from Creative Thinking International wanted to film the baby shower of Damien Echol’s future child. (117 book) Numerous celebrities sought the freedom of the “West Memphis Three” as they came to be called after their imprisonment (Robertson 1). These celebrities were putting their face out there by attaching it to a cause. This is advertisement for them.
This exploitation of events to gain power was also present in Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible. Taking place in 1692, a time when religion was everything and the town preacher was authority, people were forced into the mundane, agricultural centered lives that had been handed to them by the previous generation (Miller 3). Children were “young adults” and seen as “thankful for being permitted to walk straight” (Miller 4). It was a small town they lived in and very few people were literate. Any information they came across was given to them by gossiping townsfolk or the preacher, Reverend Parris.
Revered Parris uses the power that was handed to him to give himself a better name in politics. The witch craze provided the perfect moment to do so. He helped head the committee that determined the...

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