Moral Ambiguity In The Crucible

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If your study involved paired texts of contrasting text types, compare the ways in which the authors use conventional features of each text type to explore similar ideas.
Arthur Miller in The Crucible and Fred Zinnemann in High Noon underline comparable ideas through conventional features of drama and film. The Crucible, a 1953 play set at the Salem witch trials, is an allegory of McCarthyism. Similarly, High Noon, a 1952 American film, can be interpreted as an anti-McCarthyism parable about an isolated man defending his moral principles in the McCarthy era. Despite dissimilar text types, ideas including effects of moral ambiguity, fear and self-interest, and the strength of courage are concurrently uncovered in both texts. Both authors effectively
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Using dramatic irony, Miller illustrates moral ambiguity in the play through Abigail William’s “holy” accusations of witchcraft against the innocent when she in fact “drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor” (Miller, The Crucible, pages 17 & 26). Conversely, a less direct approach is taken by Zinnemann to accentuate the townsfolk’s moral ambiguity by contrasting it with his film’s deep-focus black-and-white cinematography. In The Crucible, the audience is aware of Abigail’s false accusations in preventing herself from being exposed as a “whore” (97). However, her “sin” (30) is ironically interpreted by the judges as “infinite charity” (104) whereas “good souls” (40) like Rebecca Nurse are wrongfully “hanged” (113), which causes frustration for the audience about the injustice caused by moral ambiguity. In contrast to this ethical uncertainty, the juxtaposition of light and dark in High Noon starkly…show more content…
Through dialogue, Miller exemplifies Reverend Parris’ “fear” of the town’s “faction against him” (35) and of losing “good respect in the parish” (20) through his denial of his daughter’s affliction by “witchcraft” (22). In resemblance to “fearful” Parris (45), the townsfolk in High Noon are revealed to be “scared” and self-centred at the church service where Kane desperately pleads for support. A councilman vehemently urges Kane to leave instead of risking a deadly encounter with Miller “for the sake of the town”. The councilman’s self-seeking nature is evidenced through his argument that “it’s better for [the townsfolk]” or investors “up North” will not “put up factories” and “everything [they] worked for will be wiped out”. While the townsfolk’s self-interest is in prioritising the town’s future needs ahead of its safety, Parris’ selfishness is depicted through his greed for monetary compensation including “firewood” (34), being “the first minister ever” to “demand the deed to his house” (34). Notwithstanding his daughter’s “sickness”, Parris predominantly worries that his “ministry’s at stake” (20) as he “cannot have anyone” discover “such corruption” of witchcraft in his house (21, 22). To avoid this “disastrous charge”, Parris perpetuates Abigail’s “deceit” in accusing the innocent, transposing to the audience the destructive
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