The Crucible Essay Example

American Literature

Themes of the Past, Relevant Today

The Crucible is a play written in pre-modern times, which is still relevant in the post-modern era. Arthur Miller wrote the play during the time of the Red Scare, in which multiple people were being convicted of communism without evidence or proof. The increase in use of social media and the easy access to the news can start chaos and spread fear, like in Salem. Anyone can now just pick up their phone and make an accusation without confirming it and people will believe it without checking the facts. The Crucible has timeless themes that are still applicable to our lives, 60 years later: what someone is willing to do to save themselves, what hatred and greed can lead someone to do, and how people are persecuted if they differ from our perception of a normal society.

The girls that were involved with Tituba, especially Abigail, lied, cheated, and killed, just to create the opportunity to get off without punishment. Abigail even forces the other girls, by threatening them, to lie also: “And mark this. Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you.” She does not kill anyone directly, but she and the other girls persuade the court with their lies to convict 19 people of witchcraft, which eventually leads to their hanging, and there were still others sitting in prison, who were most likely hanged at a later time. The girls were willing to hurt anyone to make sure to cover up what they had done. You see the unmerciful treatment of others at an all time high in the present generation and also in the 1950s. As soon as someone finds themselves in trouble, they are starting thinking of schemes and plans which would get them out of their endeavors without taking into account those who might get hurt in the process. Abigail even goes to the extent of harming herself by stabbing herself with a needle to make it look like Elizabeth Proctor was using a voodoo doll. The moment the people of the community realized they could accuse anyone of witchcraft, the situation got out of control.

The people of Salem changed from trying to rid the town of witches to accusing their neighbors and friends for their own personal gain or just because they despised them. At the beginning of the story Thomas Putnam had an argument with John Proctor over a plot of land, and once Proctor is convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to hanging, Putnam is the only one left with enough money to purchase the land. Elizabeth Proctor was one of the first accused by Abigail because she just hated her because Elizabeth fired her from being the Proctors’ maid and housekeeper. Abigail lied to Parris about why she was fired. She told him that she did not want to be a slave to Elizabeth Proctor: “She hates me, uncle, she must, for I would not be her slave. It’s a bitter woman, a lying, cold, sniveling woman, and I will not work for such a woman.” Walcott charged Martha Corey, the wife of Giles Corey, with being a witch, but Giles explained the only reason behind it was because he bought a pig from her that died a short time later and that he cannot keep a pig alive since then: “Y’see, he buy a pig if my wife four or five years ago, and the pig died soon after … Now he goes to court and claims from that day to this he cannot keep a pig alive for more than four weeks because my Martha bewitched them with her books.” The witch-hunt had taken a turn for the worst because it was no longer the town of Salem trying to rid the town of evil but rather the citizens them trying to profit from others’ demise.

Not only were people accused because there was a feud between neighbors or because there was hatred toward each other, but also because someone acted different from what they believed was normal. John and Elizabeth Proctor fell victim to this. Reverend Hale came to question them about their church attendance and whether they could recite the 10 commandments (even though they had a valid reason for not attending—Elizabeth being sick for a long period of time—they were still looked down by those who believe the Proctors were at fault). And that’s when he found a poppet planted by Abigail. N the end Elizabeth was arrested for possessing the poppet with the needle.

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