“Since I was on my way up to Salem for research on a play that I was still unsure I would write, I called at his house, which was on my route. As he laid out his dilemma and his decision to comply with the HUAC, it was impossible not to feel his anguish, old friends that we were. But the crunch came when I felt fear. For it swept over me that, had I been one of his comrades, he would have spent my name as part of the guarantee of his reform. Even so, oddly enough, I was not filling up with hatred or contempt for him; his suffering was too palpable. The whole hateful procedure had brought him to this, and I believe made the writing of The Crucible all but inevitable.”
That confession surely damns the others in the public eye, and none may doubt more that they are linked to Hell. This way, unconfessed and claiming innocence, doubts are multiplied … and our good purpose is lost. We need Rebecca Nurse, John Proctor, or Martha Corey to confess. Otherwise, people won’t believe that what we are doing is right.
Twelve are already executed; the names of these seven are given out, and the village expects to see them die this morning. Reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now. We’ve already killed 12 people. If we stop now, we are admitting that we killed those people in error.
According to The Crucible, Act IV: Elizabeth Proctor was a cold wife. This drove John Proctor to have an affair with Abigail, their servant. Goody Proctor fired Abby. Abby went to Tituba for a “charm” to kill Proctor’s wife. Parris caught Abby & the girls with Tituba. Abby accused others to cover up what she was doing. 20 people killed as a result.
Nothing’s spoiled by giving them this lie that were not rotten long before. Refusing to confess will not “keep my children out of the wind.” I’m already a sinner because of the adultery, I’m already going to hell, so adding another sin is no big deal. I’m no good to my 4 kids if I’m dead. If I’m alive I can support them, care for them.
They think to go like saints. I like not to spoil their names. I have three children – how may I teach them to walk like men in the world, and I sold my friends. I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s reputation. I might be a sinner myself, but I want to set an example for my kids not to be a tattle- tale.
Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! For now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to weave a banner with, but white enough to keep it from such dogs.
“That John Proctor the sinner might overturn his paralyzing personal guilt and become the most forthright voice against the madness around him was a reassurance to me, and, I suppose, and inspiration.”
A clash between: Appearance & reality Expectation & result Intended meaning & actual meaning Surprising at first blush But actually very fitting when you think about it. Lennie Small
Hale attempts to persuade Elizabeth that John should make a false confession. 1. Hale is a Puritan minister, so he should be on the side of truth. 2. & when he arrived in Act I to investigate the witchcraft, he told everyone to be “prepared to believe me if I should find no” witchcraft. He didn’t want anyone falsely jumping to conclusions.
Rebecca Nurse dies and Sarah Good is saved. Nurse is nice, devout, pure, & religious. Sarah sleeps in ditches, doesn’t go to church. You would think Nurse is the one that the Puritan ministers would want to “save,” but instead they hang her.
Abigail has stolen Rev. Parris’s money & run away. The girl that all the Puritan ministers believed to be holy & true turns out a liar & a thief. (But even after she runs away, they are still willing to hang Rebecca Nurse & John Proctor.)
Elizabeth is saved because of her pregnancy. She was condemned as a witch & sentenced to die, but because her hanging gets postponed until after all the hysteria has died down, she gets set free. (This is the true fate of the real life Elizabeth Proctor.) (unintentional?) She’s supposed to be a cold wife who drove her husband to adultery, but if she’s pregnant she couldn’t have been that cold.
Danforth refuses to accept John’s confession if it is a lie. This Puritan has executed 12 people based on Abby’s lies, & he now knows Abby has run off, but he still insists that he is seeking out truth.
Has an internal conflict. He feels guilty for committing adultery. He wants to take a stand against all of the nonsense and hysteria around him. He’s trying to decide what’s better – lie about witchcraft & live, or refuse to lie & die. He chooses to live & Miller presents this as the correct choice in these circumstances.
She also feels guilty the breakdown of her marriage. She doesn’t know how to advise her husband about the choice he needs to make at the end. She approves of John’s choice at the end to go to his death.
Is a dynamic character who changes from Act I to Act IV. By the end, he realizes that the Witch Trials are bogus, and he feels responsible for causing these hangings – he started the witchcraft investigations. He is just trying to save lives however he can. He’s decided that lies are better than more death (he’s a contrast to John Proctor).
By the end, the play suggests that he is the worst character on stage. He refuses to acknowledge the truth that is plainly before him – that the witch trials are bogus, that Proctor & Nurse are innocent, and that they should not be executed. He continues because he does not want to admit to himself that he has already executed 12 people in error.
During Act III, Mary Warren is shown to be a very weak person. Proctor tries to get her to tell the truth, but in the end, she can’t oppose Abigail & the society around her. She caves in & starts pretending that she is bewitched.
1. Extreme religious fanaticism (like Puritanism) leads to ignoring the facts, hysteria, death. 2. Salem witch trials lead to “innocent until proven guilty” – we have a trial by jury system to avoid trial by hysteria. 3. It’s easy to accuse, it’s difficult to defend. 4. There are times when the group, the majority, the society gets hysterical & gets it wrong, and then it’s hard for one individual to stand up against the group. 5. Americans like to present themselves as moral, pure, holy, correct; but the “ministers” are no more holy than the rest of us. 6. We’re all hypocrites, we’re all a mix of good & bad, how will you reconcile that within yourself?
Should Dzhokar Tzarnaev be prosecuted by a military tribunal as an “enemy combatant,” or should he get all of the protecttions that criminals get in a normal US federal court trial? Make an argument either way, and support your argument by making an analogy to The Crucible by Arthur Miller.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller shows that extreme religious fanaticism leads to a disregard for human life. In the play, an extreme version of Christianity (Puritanism) leads Judge Danforth to execute John Proctor & Rebecca Nurse. In Boston, we saw how an extreme version of Islam lead the Tsarnaev brothers explode two bombs in a crowd, killing three people and wounding hundreds. Dzhokahar Tsarnaev saw this as an act of jihad, or holy war. Under his own interpretation, Tsarnaev sees himself as an enemy combatant, and should be tried as such.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller shows the dangers of allowing fear to overcome common sense in a rush to judgment. In the play, the fear of witchcraft lead the courts to admit “spectral evidence” and twenty innocent people were executed as a result. Miller was using the situation in Salem as an allegory for the Red Scare of the 1950s, when fear of communism lead the HUAC to make wild accusations ruining the lives and careers of innocent Americans. While the Boston bombings were certainly frightening, there is no need to rush to judgment. Dzhokhar Tzarnaev is a US citizen, even if the evidence against him is overwhelming. Our federal courts have the ability to sort through the evidence carefully and determine his guilt.
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