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Reports & Essays: Literature - Plays

"AND""OR"

The Crucible
by Arthur Miller "The Crucible" written by Arthur Miller, is a play that takes place in the sixteen nineties during the famous but tragic witch trials. The entire community is in pandemonium yet certain characters are also fighting internal conflicts of their own. Miller uses three characters who manifest this internal battle ever so clearly. They are Mary Warren, whose whole personality turns upside down, John Proctor who contemplates between the importance of his family and his own name and Reverend Hale who battles with himself whether to carry out his job requirements or do what he knows is right. Mary Warren is a girl who is obsessed with this inner turmoil throughout the play. At the outset of the play she is perceived to be a very shy girl who will never speak her mind as shown when Proctor sends her home and she responds with " I'm just going home" (21). As the play continues and as she is influenced by Abigail, Mary begins to break this self induced mold and does what she wants. Mary Warren, along with many other girls gets caught up in the hype of getting all the attention and exercising power via initiating and adamantly continuing these "witch trials". Finally John Proctor, the rationalist, shows that when people like Rebecca Nurse and Elizabeth Proctor who are the saintliest of people are accused of being witches, something must be wrong. Mary Warren has a difficult decision to make. She has realized that her whole way of life has been based on injustice. However, how can she extricate herself from Abigail and her friends, not to mention her new feelings of confidence. Mary decides to speak out against Abigail and the others for their false accusations and said that she " tried to kill me numerous times"(57). Yet as she does this heroic act of overcoming her " old" self, Abigail pretends that Mary is also a witch using the poppets against her(73). Mary is now faced with yet another grueling internal conflict: to do what she knows is right and probably die for it, or to return to her old ways. Mary succumbs to Abigails "hypnosis " and accuses John Proctor of forcing her to lie. Clearly the battle which Mary faced from the very beginning was enormous. John Proctor, a farmer and village commoner, similarly is faced with an inner turmoil. He has committed adultery and had absolutely no intentions of joining in the witch trials until his pregnant wife got involved. Even though she was set free because she was pregnant, Proctor feels that an injustice was committed.. He is a good and noble man and wants to speak out against these witch trials but he is afraid that his past "sin" would surface. After a while, he decides that he might as well speak his mind and by so doing is also accused of sorcery and sentenced to death . John later says to Elizabeth that " My honesty is broken anyway, Elizabeth; I am a no good man. Nothing's spoiled by giving them this lie. . ."(136). As John confesses, he does not allow Danforth to make it officially documented. As Danforth asks him why John answers with a cry " because it is my name. Because I cannot have another in my life . . . How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name(143). John feels strongly about having a good name and not dying with a bad one. Proctor weighs both sides of his internal conflict and realizes that he must not make another mistake. He therefore, prescribes himself to death, not for his own sake, but rather for the sake of the others. As John dies Liz weeps saying " He has his goodness now. God forbid I take it away"(145). Another internal conflict is evident in Reverend Hale, who initiates these problems. At first Reverend Hale is sure about his belief that there are witches and feels that he is carrying out the desires of G-D himself. Yet as the play moves on and Hale sees all these honest and good people being sentenced and executed, he too experiences an inner conflict. He contemplates whether to do what he is sent to do, listen to Danforth, or listen to his own conscience and denounce these proceedings as unjust and wrong. Hale decides to help out all the people who are wrongly accused by encouraging them to confess and save themselves from these false proceedings. Hale, attempting to repent his own sins by tying to make people confess states" I come to do the devils work. I come to counsel Christians they should belie themselves . . . can you not see the blood on my head(131). Hale overcomes his turmoil by following the truth he knew in his heart of hearts. Yet he is counseling people to " prevail upon your husband and confess " and says " God damns a liar less than he that throws his life away for pride " and convinces people to lie which is against his religion and considered a moral sin. But he decides that earthly life is a greater gift than eternal life. Everybody throughout their lives are faced with inner conflicts. One must make a decision based on what they think is right and true. These three characters probably just faced the most important decision of their lives. Whether right or wrong their went with what they thought was the right decision within their heart of hearts.

"For complete summary and analysis of literary works, please visit NovelGuide.com

 



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