Friday, May 4, 2012

Literary Analysis of The Crucible

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Under the right circumstances, hysteria can have a profound effect on a community and act as a test of morality. The characters’ reactions to the hysteria in Roger Miller’s horrifying drama, The Crucible, expose many of the disturbing aspects of the human conditio ... This paper is the property of getfreeessays.com Copyright � 00-00Literary Analysis of The Crucible


Under the right circumstances, hysteria can have a profound effect on a community and act as a test of morality. The characters’ reactions to the hysteria in Roger Miller’s horrifying drama, The Crucible, expose many of the disturbing aspects of the human condition. Based on actual facts, the play begins with a group of young ladies who have been found dancing in the woods and are being accused of witchcraft. When one of the accused ladies is set free with a meaningless confession to witchcraft, she is able to pursue her infatuation with a married man named John Proctor by accusing his wife, Elizabeth Proctor. After much deception, dishonesty and accusation the play’s main character, John Proctor is accused of witchcraft and hung when he refuses to sign a confession. The hysteria that runs rampant in Miller’s drama reveals the disturbing corruption and dishonesty present among the masses and highlights the virtuous and upstanding minority.


-Widespread corruption among the populace is revealed during this time of crazed accusations. The severity of the situation is emphasized by Giles Corey’s refusal to give the name of a person whose testimony could convict Thomas Putnam. When asked why he will not give the name of the person, Giles retorts, “You know why the hell not! He’ll lay in jail if I give his name!” (7) This outcry from Giles puts the general feeling of the community into words very well. Giles, like everyone else, knows that in this time of hysteria simply mentioning the name of another man in court will certainly lead to his accusation. Corey’s quote exposes the dry reality that the masses are mainly corrupt or willing to concede to corruption when he is certain that any name mentioned will later be accused of witchcraft. This unpleasant reality is underscored by Abigail’s pursuit of John throughout the play. Understanding that John is married, she tries to use her power and the hysteria of the town to eliminate John’s wife, Elizabeth. (65) Abigail’s cruel-hearted pursuit of John is the most severe of all and confirms with the reader the idea that this hysteria does reveal evil among the people.


While the hysteria provokes evil in the majority of the people, it does allow for the truly ethical ones to shine through the wickedness. John proctor is one character who shows integrity when he is offered a one-year reprieve for his pregnant wife and hesitantly declines, showing Deputy Governor Danforth his “purpose is somewhat larger.” Instead, Proctor stays to defend Rebecca Nurse, Martha Corey and his wife. (-) This decision is a surprise for the reader because up until this point, John had not shown that he had so much courage. John’s unselfish decision is a great contrast to the behavior of the rest of the hysterical town. Perhaps John’s most heroic action comes at the end of the play when he decides to give his life rather than sign a confession that will “blacken the names” of those who have hung. (144-145) John modestly calls this brave act a “shred of goodness,” however it is probably boldest action any body takes throughout the entire play. The decision John makes is so courageous because he could have very easily decided to submit to Danforth’s demands by signing the confession and walking away free like so many had done before him. Instead, Proctor puts the pride of his family and the honor of those who had died over his own salvation. Surrounded by a society in which the majority would have conceded to the confession, John Proctor is still able to make the brave decision to standing up for what is right.


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The Crucible reveals a human condition in which the majority is truly dishonest and immoral and the ethical, moral group is a small minority. This is a novel that carries over much importance into our present day lives as we still face the same hysteria that Salem experienced over 00 years ago. One of the most recent similarities has been McCarthyism in which Senator Joe McCarthy accused anybody that got in his way of Communism, very similarly to the witch trials. When one concludes Miller’s, The Crucible, it is essential that he walk away with a better understanding of human nature and can better recognize hysterical situations such as McCarthyism and the witch trials.





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