Sources Of Power In The Crucible

1065 Words5 Pages
The Power of the Individual
Throughout American history, famous authors often protest injustices in society and help protect the rights of the people. One such author is Arthur Miller who wrote The Crucible, a tragedy set during the Salem witch trials, to protest the unjust hunt for suspected communists in 1950’s America. This era, known as McCarthyism, emerged from a fear of the expanding communist empire, resulting in hundreds of allegations against suspected communists by The House Un-American Activities Committee. Similarly, The Crucible, set in 1692, depicts the sudden burst of hysteria and fear in Salem, Massachusetts after witches were believed to be cursing the town. Miller uses the real events of the Salem Witch Trials and a fictional
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In The Crucible, the main source of authority is governor Danforth. When John Proctor wishes to denounce Abigail as a witness, he appeals to Danforth for a delay of the hangings. Danforth respond to his pleas by saying, "I should hang ten thousand that dared to rise against the law, and an ocean of salt tears could not melt the resolution of the statues" (3.262-264). He claims that challenging the court’s decision is a crime punishable by death and no protest or grievance will break his resolve to enforce justice in the town. Danforth uses his authority as a blockade against any resistance that not even John Proctor can break through. His desire to expel witchcraft caused the law to become unjust with no hope of preventing the trials. McCarthy and the senate used the same tactic in the 1950's during the Red Scare. In her speech, "A Declaration of Conscience", senator Margaret Chase Smith accuses the senate of hunting communists with no regard for the truth or the complaints of the American people. The HUAC continuing to perform hearings after criticisms from the senate resulted in a mass panic and hundreds of wrongly accused people. When those in power ignore the voice of the people, they become corrupt and society suffers. By creating a headstrong voice of authority in his novel, Miller forms parallel…show more content…
While many people escaped punishment by finding a scapegoat, few remarkable people show resistance against this practice by refusing to name anyone else. In order to save himself, John Proctor falsely confesses to witchcraft. However, When Governor Danforth asks John Proctor to name other witches in the town he responds with, "I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another... I have no tongue for it" (4.653-655). John Proctor is willing to hang instead of accusing another and becoming part of the mass hysteria. By doing so, he sacrificed his own life and freedom to stand up to injustice. During the McCarthyism era, Albert Einstein urged intellectuals to act similarly. He encouraged them not to testify and instead face the consequences for the good of society. Activist Pete Seeger followed Einstein's advice and was blacklisted by the entertainment industry until the 1960's. Despite receiving such harsh treatment, he never broke his resolve or gave into the pressure from the HUAC (Doc E). Men like Seeger who resist mob mentality and the tide of mass hysteria, are able to rally people behind them and overcome injustice in society. Although the people may be angry, it takes a strong individual to rise and lead the way. Miller used John Proctor as a tribute to upstanding men like Pete Seeger who led the resistance against corrupt
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