Growing, learning and becoming the best we can be are all positive steps that evolve from life experience. It is human nature that wants to succeed and contribute to society in productive ways. In the play The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, individuals display an ugly side of human nature and are motivated by less than noble goals. Throughout the story, justice is often replaced by the desire for personal gain. Perhaps the three best reasons are greed, selfishness and betrayal. Greed is a motivating factor among many individuals in the play. At many times, John Proctor talks with Hale about Parris’s need to become rich, by gathering valuable golden candlesticks. He says, “He preach nothin’ but golden candlesticks, until he had them… I think, sometimes, the man dreams cathedrals, not clapboard meetin’ houses” (Miller 65). Proctor says this to Parries to illustrate Parris’s materialistic nature and thirst for power, land and material possessions. Like Reverend Parris, Thomas Putnam is also greedy. Thomas uses his daughter to falsely accuse George Jacob of witchcraft.
The accusation leads to the arrest and conviction of George Jacob by Judge Danforth. Giles Corey’s explains to Danforth that Mr. Putnam is dishonest and says “If Jacobs hangs for a witch he forfeit up his property- that’s law! … This man is killing his neighbors for their land” (Miller 96). Thomas Putnam uses these falsifying witchcraft trails to increase his own wealth by accusing people of dealing in witchcraft, getting them convicted and then taking advantage of the situation by buying up their property. Characters like Parris and Putnam are so obsessed with greed that they do not have a conscience. Just as the evils of greed occupy Parris and Putnam, Abigail Williams is motivated by selfishness. She is vengeful, manipulative and a magnificent liar; for example, she goes into the forest at night and practises witchcraft with the other girls form the village. However, when Abigail is confronted about her disgusting behaviour, she chooses to keep her well respected reputation intact.
Abigail denies that she was in the forest dancing that night, threatens the girls and says, “Now look you. All of you. We danced… Let either of you breathe a word… I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you” (Miller 20). She does this to also avoid being arrested. Not only does Abigail lie about witchcraft, she also stuffs the needle in the doll that Mary Warren made for Elizabeth. Cheever explains, “The girl, the Williams girl, Abigail Williams, sir. She sat to dinner in Reverend Parris’s house tonight… she falls to the floor… he goes to save her, and, stuck two inches in the flesh of her belly, he draw a needle out. And demandin’ of her how she come to be stabbed” (Miller 74). Abigail uses this situation to accuse Elizabeth of practising witchcraft to harm her Abigail.
She does this to sabotage Elizabeth and, eventually, take her place as John Proctor’s wife. Abigail’s callousness with Elizabeth shows that her selfishness has no bounds or morals. If greed and selfish are not bad enough human characteristics, betrayal is perhaps the most cunning and provides the most false sense of security. Mary Warren accuses John Proctor of consorting with the devil and pressuring her to join him in his evil ways, which is not true. As Mary yells in anger, she says pointing at Proctor, “You’re the Devil’s man!” (Miller 118). She continues on to say “I’ll not hang with you! I love God, I love God” (118). Mary Warren’s loyalty to John Proctor is betrayed under pressure to save her own life rather than be hanged. Abigail betrays Tituba so that she does not get question by Reverend Hale.
What Abigail says to Hale and Parris when she falsely accuses Tituba is “She sends her spirit on me in church; she makes me laugh at prayer!” (Miller 44). Abigail does not want to confess her practise of witchcraft in the forest with her girls at night. While in the play there is no shortage of characters willing to do the wrong thing in life, choosing to do the right thing is always the preferred path in life. Having to replace any form of righteousness (justice) with greed, selfishness or betrayal does not justify our actions or means for the end result.
Each one of the characters in the crucible mention in the above paragraph have all demonstrated that some form of human nature for self rewardance was place before justice/righteousness. There are always consequences when the truth is not told. Whenever we use these actions in our character they always lead us away in the opposite direction from our true and honest goals. Righteousness in the heart produces beauty in the character.
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin Books, 1976. Print