The Role of the Community in 'The Crucible' by Arthur Miller
Written by Arthur Miller, the play The Crucible is set in Salem,
Massachusetts in 1692. According to the introduction to the play,
Salem is less than 40 years old, and is not very large – probably
around hamlet sized. The few houses and building in the hamlet were
small and dark. Massachusetts has a harsh, cold environment and the
houses provided little protection from the raw winters. Salem was
originally built as a simple community; an armed camp to provide a
united side against Massachusetts – ‘Massachusetts tried to kill off
the Puritans, but they combined’.
Immigrants who had travelled over from England, where they had been
persecuted because of their religion, which was Puritanism, set up
Salem. The original immigrants were determined, strong people, who had
been simply made all the stronger by their experiences in England.
‘They believed, in short, that they held in their steady hands the
candle that would light the world’. This, to me, suggests that they
felt themselves so much stronger than anyone else because of what they
had gone through for their faith; they felt that they had enough light
– strength – for the whole world.
The people of Salem were facing dangerous times. A lot of them
believed that a time of confusion had been brought upon them by
darkling and deep forces. Whether this was true or not was dwarfed by
the frustration that was raging through Salem. Also, the theocracy
system was falling apart. I do not believe that the people of Salem
were feeling at all safe at the time of the play. They recognized the
unrest and were feeling it through and through. The people were
feeling trapped and scared, not really sure of anything.
The statement ‘ In unity still lay the best promise of safety’,
written Miller develops the discussed ideas of the strength of the
village being great, except instead of looking to the village as one
saving the world, he is looking at how the village should simply
survive the hard times. Miller’s statement suggests that the villagers
working together and helping each other as one is the best way to
survive and get through. He does also suggest though that this still
holds no guarantee.
Life for people in Salem in 1692 was very controlled, or that is how
the ‘rules’ stated, and so how the villagers felt, hence the unrest.
The practices of the religion that followed were quite restricting –
reading for pleasure was one of the two forms of entertainment that
was forbidden, and the other was any dancing or theatre.
The duty of the two-man patrol was to hunt out any villagers who were
‘slacking off’ any of the meeting, services, or work. The patrol was
to report anyone they found and they would be brought up in court.
This shows how strict...