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Corruption In The Crucible By Arthur Miller English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1276 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, the belief of witchcraft held poisonous consequences as accusations increase to devour the entire village. Since the Salem witch trials started, they heavily influenced the people and town of Salem. People of Salem were accused of being a witch on poor evidence. Such accusations of being a witch sacrificed many human lives. Even though the people of Salem realized that they were murdering the innocent, it does not make up for their deaths. The Puritan community of Salem became gripped with mass hysteria over activities that they believed to be witchcraft. It started with a strong belief system towards God but ended with on an irrational note. The death of the many ¿½witches¿½ cannot be justified by the mere fact that them being ¿½witches¿½ was a sign from god. The one societal problem that led to the Salem witch trials was perjury. This society-wide problem within the community of Salem exists solely because of human failings such as wanting high reputation, jealousy and hysteria.

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In theocratic Salem, reputation is remarkably important, where both communal and personal matters are seen as one. Reputation plays such an important role that nothing can stand in the way of maintaining it. In The Crucible, Deputy Governor Danforth, has a commanding presence and absolute confidence that provoke others to comply willingly with his authority. He is relentlessly determined to sustain the authority of the court even at the expense of truth and fairness, which is a form of perjury. He is supportive of anything that does not disorder or disregard the court. Mary Warren is shy and easily manipulated because of her desire for acceptance with the other girls. She lacks the psychological and emotional strength in facing difficulty and also lacks in a sense of identity to stand-alone against a crowd. This can be shown ¿½when, seeing him coming for her, she rushes out of his reach, screaming in horror.¿½ (Miller 118). Mary Warren wanted to go against Abigail and tell the truth but when she sees that she was alone against a crowd, she did not know right from wrong and just wanted to have a social status just like the other girls. Wanting social status and a good reputation has led human into the wraths of perjury. To stay where they are in terms of social status, humans are willing to lie in and out of court.

Jealousy causes people to act in abnormal ways, it causes people to bear grudges and have strong hatred against others. Jealousy is caused by a certain insecurity that a person has. This insecurity comes from a desire, a desire of something that they cannot get. For what cannot be obtained must be obliterated. Jealousy has played a big role in the deaths of Salem. The Salem Witch Trials brought opportunities to cause punishment on others, claim other’s land, and settle old grudges. The witch trials revealed the true characteristics of the society in Salem. The main antagonist of the story Abigail Williams, after having an affair with a married man ¿½ John Proctor and wants to pursue her relationship with him. But him being married caused her to hold a strong grudge against his wife, Elizabeth Proctor. Which begins a long chain of lies and accusations in an attempt to get her lover back. Abigail¿½s jealousy of Elizabeth drives her to prove that Elizabeth is a witch when Cheever says

The girl, the Williams girl, Abigail Williams, sir. She sat to dinner in Reverend Parris¿½s house tonight, and without word nor warnin¿½ she falls to the floor. Like a struck beast, he says, and screamed a scream that a bull would weep to hear. And he goes to save her, and, stuck two inches in the flesh of her belly, he draw a needle out. And demandin¿½ of her how she come to be so stabbed, she-to Proctor now¿½-testify it were your wife¿½s familiar spirit pushed it in. (Miller 74).

This act that Abigail played showed her sense of jealousy towards Elizabeth and exactly how far she would go to get Elizabeth out of the picture and proctor all to herself. To do so, she would have to commit perjury and lie to the court. However, her cunning and manipulative character allows her to get away with her in considerate lies. With the court believing everything that isn¿½t true, the table is turned and the just, is now looked upon as the unjust. The Putnams were a small family, whose seven out of eight children did not survive childbirth. Both Mrs. Putnam and Mr. Putnam were jealous of the one thing they wanted but couldn’t have. Mrs. Putnam treasured her only living baby, and blamed the death of her others on witchcraft when she says ¿½ I begged him not to call Osburn because I feared her. My babies always shriveled in her hands!¿½ (Miller 47). Mrs. Putnam has always wanted more children and was jealous of people with large families, so she recklessly blamed anyone she could. Mental weakness is as much to blame for these deaths as much as jealousy and manipulation. The sense of jealousy brings the worst out of people and makes them do anything including committing perjury for the sake of their own benefit.

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A crucial theme in the play is hysteria. Hysteria causes one to be violent and agitated which, gives uncontrollable fear. The town of Salem accepted the idea of hysteria, because it gave them a chance to blame others on the grudges they held in life. The most obvious, Abigail started the hysteria in the play by accusing Tituba of witchcraft. And Tituba admitted to her compacting with the Devil when she says ¿½ No, no, don¿½t hang Tituba! I tell him I don¿½t desire to work for him, sir.¿½ By admitting to the unreal, it influenced others into believing it. Since Tituba wants nothing but her own life, she fabricates a lie, which snowballs into a great hysteria. When all the girls start to believe in witchcraft, they continue to lie and deceive the court. Abigail has influenced the girls to be manipulative and to be able to deceive people; she was an un-honorable leader. When Abigail started accusing people, the other girls had to follow her. “I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you . . .. I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down!” She caused intense drama, which soon lead to Salem to be corrupt. She used hysteria to deceive the one thing she wanted, Elizabeth on trial. The only thing that could keep Abigail content was John Proctor’s love; she was willing do whatever it takes to obtain it. The fact that she seized the opportunity while Salem was corrupted with hysteria; Elizabeth was then put into jail. The fear of hysteria has thrived throughout the book; it allowed many people to benefit from it. The accused were punished, and the accusers were safe. Hysteria has led the people of Salem to believe the unlikely. It shows a dramatic irony as, instead of convicting those who commit perjury, the court supports them because of the heavy influence of hysteria.

Perjury has influenced the Salem society to failure and has caused many to believe in false actions; many of these examples has proved that Salem was indeed, corrupted. The Salem witch trial has influenced others to be as decisive as them. The ignorance and superstition of hysteria caused many innocent lives to be sacrificed. Lies and deception has caused the courts of Salem to be unreliable. Humans may be the most intelligent but we also bring upon our own downfalls. Because of human failings such as wanting high reputation, jealousy and hysteria, perjury within the small puritan community of Salem subsists.


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