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. Such as Mary Warren
who 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 wether to carry out his job requirements
or do what he knows is right.
Mary Warren is a girl who is forced with this inner turmoil
throughout this 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 reality, 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 unless hi pregnant wife were
to also get involved. After his wife got involved and eventually was
set free due to the fact that she was pregnant feels that he can't
accept this. Proctor is a good and noble man and because of this he
believes at first he can't be hanged and die a martyr when he has this
sin blooming over him every waking moment . John later says to
Elizabeth that " My honesty is broke, Elizabeth; I am no good man.
Nothing's spoiled by giving them this lie that were not rotten long
before"(136) and rather confess then die for something he flat out
didn't do. However, as John confesses, he can 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? 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
have 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 sees
an inner conflict. He contemplates whether to do what he is sent to
do, listen to Danforth, or does he listen to his own conscience and
denounce these proceedings as unjust and wrong. Hale decides to help
out all the people 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 mt 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.
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