The Crucible

February 21, 2010
By Anonymous

Perhaps if Arthur Miller and Harper Lee had decided to combine their literally acclaimed pieces together, they would’ve come up with an ingenious story. Instead, almost a decade apart, the crucible, a play written by Arthur miller in 1953 that projected his observations on life during the McCarthy Era into a 17th century based play illuminating the similarities between the accusations during the Salem Witch trials and his own life, jump started generations of thought provoking, brutally honest productions to come. History repeats itself, possibly the most common theme of all, as the ease with which justice can be manipulated strikes again hits in Harper lee’s 1960 novel, to kill a mockingbird. Her characters share characteristics originally presented in The Crucible’s main characters John Proctor, Reverend Hale, and Elizabeth Proctor, who all expose their sins and virtues within the irony of their society.

The hero of the town of Salem, John Proctor, tried to open the eyes of the townspeople to righteousness, but ended up tragically walking into his own grave. He carries with him the unfortunate seed of excessive pride as he expresses, “Oh Francis, I wish you had some evil in you that you might know me!...A man will not cast away his good name. Surely you know that”. This protagonist and former adulterer played along the lines of justice himself and found keeping his name good, the essence of his existence. He realizes his soul could never again redeem itself after conjuring that he danced with the devil. Within that new state of mind and acceptance, he exerts the virtue of humility and for-sees his own fate as he cries out to Abigail, “It is not on a boat we will meet again but in hell!”. Proctor sees himself as he is and shows no sign of hiding it, but also no sign of freeing that recognition. In his eyes you see that light has shown and the supposititious town that revolves around him will continue to walk around with vengeance on their pitchforks, unless he succumbs to a path so clearly intended for him in the end.

One character, in particular, experienced a metamorphosis unlike any other as his failures led him to remove that blindfold that was so tightly covering the unjust system of the court, and that, is Reverend Hale. Being the center of perseverance for confessions and enlightenment, Hale provided a sense of generosity to the town and served as an honest man as he spoke to Goody Proctor, “You know do you not, that I have no connection with the court? I come of my own Goody Proctor. I would save your husband’s life, for if he is taken I count myself as murderer. Do you understand me?” This man relied mostly on a combination of scientific evidence and belief and tried to help the convicted and the tried and true. Only after it was too late did he read through the lines of what was to come for the town. Reverend Hale’s lack of belief in common sense and possibilities landed him a lazy spot in seeking truth as he states to the girls, “We cannot look to superstition in this. The Devil is precise”. He has dedication only in what is stated in the books and no dedication to the structure of justice and seeking that is stays as it was supposed to be. In the end, he quits the Salem Court of which he was pleased to be a part of in the beginning, and leaves with clarity on the subject of justice.

Elizabeth Proctor, opposite and wife to John Proctor, is exempted from the group not as a deceitful young woman, but quite the opposite; one full of genuine love. “My husband- is a goodly man, sir”, proclaims Elizabeth as she testifies in court on the wrong doings of her husband in terms of Abigail Williams, the antagonist of the play. Elizabeth’s envy is shunned and her everlasting love shines through for she sees the good heart of her husband and internally vows to stand by him. Before she contributes her virtue to the story, it is her sin that led her to the realization of her virtue and ascends her husband’s anger before the trials as she tells him, “it is her dearest hope John, I know it…John have you ever shown her somewhat of contempt? She cannot pass you in the church but you will blush”. Elizabeth overcomes her envious mindset and comes to terms with the unjust, unfit life in Salem. This woman, the strongest of them in the play, does not let her husband go with weakness, but lets him go with a happiness that his soul will forever be with hers knowing it sent justice on the path to righteousness.

The ease with which justice can be manipulated did not just repeat itself in history over time, but within the period of the crucible and is shown over the course of John Proctor, Reverend Hale, and Elizabeth Proctor’s roles and transformations, which, furthermore, is exactly why Arthur Miller was one of the first to choose to create, in my opinion, a brilliant piece like this.

The author's comments:
One of the most common themes in literature is The repition of history. No matter if its emotion, appearances, events, it weaves its way into time eventually.

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