Despite their deeply religious values, the members of the Puritan Society in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible are equally as sinful as the rest of the world. The Puritans, known for turning to God when given any matter at hand, lay blame on the Devil, regardless of their contradictory values. By blaming on him for their wrongdoings, the Devil earns power through the Puritans restoring to involve him whenever any one thing goes wrong. Power is defined by one’s reputation, status, wealth, gender, and age; although the natural deciding factor of one’s power in the Puritan society is land, the Devil himself holds ultimate power. Despite the fact that he does not appear as a human figure, he controls the thoughts and actions of the Puritan society, serving as the ultimate threat. The Devil influences the villagers of Salem, Massachusetts by using their ongoing fear of him to manipulate their thoughts and actions in a manner to set himself in the highest position by the end of the Act 1.
Power, the ability to maintain control, command, or authority over others can often be determined by one’s reputation and his or her persuasiveness. This principle is displayed within The Crucible, a play written by Arthur Miller, in which follows the town of Salem, Massachusetts attempting to navigate through a “Witchcraft” outbreak supposedly lead by the Devil. Within such a theocratic society such as Salem, the Devil is often associated with death, fear, and uncertainty. While his name alone is often believed to be able to influence others in to following through in certain actions. The Devil, as a key figure behind the immense “witchcraft” occurring in Salem, is crafted by Miller as the most influential “character” due to his infamous reputation and his ability to control characters’ actions.
Arthur Miller, a prominent twentieth century playwright, is well-known for his play The Crucible. The play opens in the Puritan town of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. The Puritan religion is against dancing and singing because the Puritans believe these are sensuous activities. The Puritans also believe that Satan tempts human beings to carry out his work. Fear and hysteria strike Salem over the belief that the devil is in the town because Parris’s niece, Abigail Williams, was found dancing in the forest with other girls and Parris’s servant; and soon after two young girls fall sick.
Putnam claims that “There is a murdering witch among us, bound to keep herself in the dark. Let your enemies make of it what they will, you cannot blink it more” (16). Putnam is yet another powerful male figure in Salem Betty has taken a grip over in the town. He, in this quote, truly believes that the devil is among the town of Salem based on Betty’s current condition. Reverend Hale, encouraging Tituba to give more names of witches, tells her to look at Betty’s “god- given innocence; her soul is so tender; we must protect her; Tituba; the Devil is out and preying on her like a beast upon the flesh of a pure lamb.
This demonstrates how distraught Parris has become due to the constant fear he experiences from losing the town’s interest in his preaching. Fearful of losing his followers, Parris denies hard facts and abandons his daughter to keep himself from losing any more traction in the town. In The Crucible, well respected individuals show how simple it is for someone to take his eyes off God in fear of losing his reputation. One respected member in Salem is John Proctor.
Tituba was a servant of Reverend Parris that would dance with the girls in the woods around a fire. Abigail is the niece of Reverend Parris, which he adopted and a girl who also had an affair with John Proctor. Betty is the daughter of Reverend Parris who gets caught in the mess with Abigail and Mary. 4. Mrs.Putman believed that there are witches in Salem because she had talked to a witch to contact her dead children.
Spreading Fear to Maintain Power Arthur Miller's The Crucible takes place in Salem, Massachusetts; a town that is soon to be plagued with dark times. When accusations are made that girls of the town are performing witchcraft, everyone is thrown into mass hysteria. With total chaos, some of the members see this as an opportunity to seize control of the situation. These individuals establish and maintain this power through spreading terror and fear over the majority. This is done by threatening other characters, using their unjust credibility and abusing authoritative positions.
Abigail, in fear of the likelihood of a deteriorating reputation for having casted charms in the forest, finds an outlet in Tituba’s confessions. As Abigail realizes Hale’s encouraging reactions to Tituba’s confession to service of the Devil, she proclaims, “I go back to Jesus... I saw Sarah Good, Good Osburn with the Devil!” (45). Abigail takes advantage of her fellow villagers’ naivety in believing in the existence of witchcraft, in doing so, acts as though she’s sending herself back to God, presenting an image of a truthful Christian.
One of the main elements that eventually build up to the main plot in the play is power. Many of the characters in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible have a strong desire for power. The Salem witch trials empowered several characters in the play who were previously marginalized in Salem society. It gave them the chance to misuse it leading to horrible suffering and even deaths of some innocent people in the town. Some of these characters are Abigail Williams, Deputy Governor Danforth and Reverend Parris.
The pursuit of power outweighs moral motives causing the manipulation of fear and its detrimental consequences. In The Crucible, Miller represents the dangers political power poses to individuals that are manipulated with fear for political gain through the parallel of the 17th century Salem Witch Trials to the 20th century McCarthy trials. In both contexts individuals experience social injustice as a result of political wrongdoing. Salem “developed a theocracy… to keep the community together” whose fundamental purpose was to guarantee that individuals in society adhere to a moral code of conduct. However, this theocracy enabled religious individuals to further their motive of power by dictating the lives of others. Miller’s characterisation
Everyone longs for success. They desire the acceptance and approval for following their moral compass, being rewarded, and being acknowledged. However, one cannot maintain success without a purposeful and achievable position of power. In The Crucible by Arthur Miller the power of society is bound upon a pronounced hierarchy. Men naturally are deemed as having higher status than women in society. The status of women relies on affiliation by association, their religious status, children, and race, therefore obtaining power proves to be a challenge for many. While Tituba lacks power due to her gender, race, and indentured servitude, she ultimately achieves power by maintaining an alleged alliance with the devil and through pursuing accusations of witchcraft.
After all of this chaos, Tituba (Reverend Parris’s slave from Barbados) and two other women were charged for witchcraft. In the courtroom, the girls were acting erratically and only Tituba out of the three confessed about participating in witchcraft. She did this because she did not want to be executed. In addition, she claimed that their were other witches in Salem.
The Salem witch trials were a series of court trials held during the colonial times in Salem Village, Massachusetts. Up to twenty people were executed by hanging after being accused of witchcraft. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is a play that retells the stories of the Salem witch trials while incorporating some a few of Miller’s imaginative ideas. One of the major driving forces in The Crucible is coveting a good name because in the town of Salem, one’s good name holds him at a high status and ties in to his credibility. With that, reputation has proven to be a vital theme in the play, shown by John Proctor’s actions in court and Reverend Parris’ fear of a tarnished name.
In order to save herself from extensive consequences when the society had found out about her eating of the chicken blood in the forest, she is forced to blame someone for her wrongdoing. With this, Tituba comes close to her death, as it is intolerable for any Puritan to take play in witchcraft or consult with the Devil. Abigail claims that Tituba always “comes to [her] while [she] sleep[s] [and that] she's always making [her] dream corruptions!” (44). Although this is untrue, the Devil is placed in a situation of crime, which raises his level of power, as he is the one who is known to force people into performing sinful acts when they are under his influence.
The author, Arthur Miller, displays a theocracy to demonstrate a court's ignorance towards actual facts. A theocracy is a religion based government. Throughout the novel, The Crucible, the religion of the government corrupts decisions that are made in court. If someone was not a part of the church or did not attend every Sunday they were thought to be a witch, or at least dishonorable. Danforth, deputy governor, brought forth the main issue of the whole novel, "A person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between" (Miller 94). The government puts many people in a crossroad because they are forced to choose between their true beliefs or what the government wants to hear.