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Not What it Seems Essay

The quote, “Things are not always as they seem when you are looking from the outside in” is a perfect example of how we might think the world is perfect but in reality our life is a spider web. Playwright, Arthur Miller, captured this idea in his play, The Crucible. Miller focuses on the idea of image versus the reality in Salem. The purpose of Salem was to be a sin-free town; however, it was plagued with adultery, greed, and deceit. There is one sin that, because of its selfish and evil ways, causes the destruction of John Proctor and his image; this sin is adultery.

In the Bible it is said that we are to lead a sin free life, and, more specifically, we are not supposed to commit adultery. Mentioned in Exodus 20:14 “Thou shall not commit adultery”, it clearly states that if anyone commits adultery then they have committed a sin. Salem, as mentioned, was created to be a “perfect” town, and Abigail and John’s affair goes against that philosophy. Not only is this a sin in the Bible, it also creates tension between John and Abigail. More importantly, it created an untrustworthy marriage for Elizabeth and John.

However, John Proctor willingly admits to committing adultery with Abigail, and sees Abigail as a child and says, “Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut off my hand before I’ll ever reach for you again. Wipe it out of mind. We never touched, Abby” (Miller, 23). This shows us that John knows what he did was wrong and wants to gain forgiveness from God, but Abigail stands in his way of doing so. Since John said this to Abigail, she has been trying to get rid of the one person that stands in her way.

Abigail thinks that if Elizabeth is out the picture then John will fall for her again; but this is not true, and she does whatever it takes to make John hers. In addition, Salem did not live up to its “image” is in greed. Greed can be a very destructive part of everyone’s life, and some people let their greed get out of control, which was exactly what happened in Salem during the witch trials. Two people’s greed brought up the whole tragedy of the trials, convictions and hangings; these individuals were Thomas Putnam and Reverend Parris. Unquestionably, Thomas Putnam was a hard-handed, landowner.

He valued his land probably more than his marriage, or his possessions. He used his land as a power source to get anything that he wanted, he also used this power to get his neighbors accused and convicted of being witches. “He states that you coldly prompted your daughter to cry witchery upon George Jacob’s that is now in jail” (Miller 96). Putnam would convince his daughter to falsely accuse people of witch craft so once they were convicted; he would be able to purchase the deceased’s land, just giving him more land and power. He alone got others to start believing that some people among them were witches.

The second greed-filled person is Reverend Parris; he felt that he was underpaid for his services. At one time he said to Giles Corey, “I regard that six pound as part of my salary… You will look far for a man of my kind at sixty pound a year! ” (Miller, 45) This shows us that Reverend Paris wants more material wealth; another case where this is present is when he preached for twenty weeks about having golden candlesticks on the altar until he finally got them. As the story progressed, he became greedier for his life and the life of his friends.

When Proctor was about to be hanged, Paris begged and pleaded for Proctor’s life so that he would not be blamed for killing one of Salem’s “upper class”. Greed can make a person grow far from the lord and that is exactly what was going on in Salem. Without a doubt, deceit was the final and most important ingredient to Salem being filled and over-ran with the devil. The first example of deceit was found with Abigail Williams; she was the first person who was caught dancing in the woods and realized that if she turned on the others, her own life would be spared.

She started making things up so that she would be in the center of life in Salem. Abigail threatened to kill anyone that told on her for witch craft and yet she went ahead and accused innocent people. “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. And you know I can do it; I saw Indians smash my dear parents’ heads on the pillow next to mine and I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down!

” (Miller, 20) She accused many innocent people of being witches for her own personal good. She was worried about her image and did not want to get in trouble, but she thought she had the authority to accuse others for her own personal gain so she would not be considered of performing witch-craft. The best example of this would be when she accused Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch. Meanwhile, Abigail and John Proctor had an affair, and she perceived this to mean that John wanted to be with her instead of his wife.

Then, she realized that the only way for the two of them to be together would be to kill Elizabeth in some way. The only “legal” way to do this would be to accuse Elizabeth of being a witch and making sure that she was convicted of this crime. Abigail knew that the punishment for the crime of witchcraft was hanging, and carried out her accusation so that she and John could “dance upon her grave together” (Miller, 110) With her saying this shows us that she cares for nothing more than her happiness and that she has devilish thoughts.

This lie was a major sin and shows us that Abigail is: mean, selfish, backstabber. Since being condemned with adultery, greed, and deceit, the so-called “sin-free” town of Salem was everything but that; it was filled with the devil and evil. With Abigail and John committing adultery, Mr. Putnam’s obsession with wealth, and finally all the lies and backstabbing of Abigail, we can see Salem is not so perfect after all. Salem is a prime example of something looking good from the outside, but once you get inside, one can see the dirt and grime.


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