Many different parts form together to make up the society we see in The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller. Whether it be religion, government, or social roles; they all play some sort of impacting part to the characters we met while watching The Crucible. Who knew that religion and government could change a person’s life in a matter of minutes like it did so many times throughout the movie. The characters like Abigail Williams and John Proctor both knew the risks of going against these roles and what it would do to their everyday lives, but both characters chose to do it in more ways than one.
Religion played a huge role throughout The Crucible and all of the characters were expected to show some sort of respect towards their religion. John Proctor is one of the characters who face this double standard. He feels as if he showed enough support towards the church before Reverend Parris took over that there is no way that him and his family could ever be questioned for associating themselves with the devil. However, after Abigail Williams tells the church that she saw Goody Proctor with the devil they had to question her. What originally was a trip to warn the Proctor family and ask a few questions turned into a rather defensive and disappointing ending. Reverend Hale had asked John Proctor three interesting questions: why his youngest child had not been baptized, why he and his family had not been to church in such a long time, and to state his ten commandments. John Proctor had a response to the first two that seemed reasonable to him, but not to the rest of the church. To the first question he responded with: “I like it not that Mr. Paris should lay his hand upon my baby. I see no light of God in that man.
I’ll no conceal it.” and to the second he responded with “I nailed the roof upon the church, I hung the door”. Both responses sounded like reasonable excuses to John Proctor because he felt as if Reverend Parris was more worried about the money and the less important things than God himself, but Reverend Parris was ordained and no matter how you felt he was the reverend. If someone chose to go against him it was equal to going against God and in those days going against God meant you were somehow associated with the devil. The last question that Reverend Hale asked John Proctor was to state the Ten Commandments. After looking like he had just been insulted he began to recite the first nine but struggled on the tenth, adultery. Whether it was because he couldn’t remember the tenth commandment under pressure or he was anxious to say it because of the incident between Abigail Williams and himself. Finally, his wife stated the tenth commandment and Reverend Hale looked a little shocked that he couldn’t have finished all ten himself. Knowing all ten of these commandments was a way to show your faith in God and John Proctor only stated nine of the ten which signaled a red flag that their household had been touched by the devil in one way or another.
Political values played hand in hand with religion. All court hearings and anything else referring to some sort of government were always held through the reverend. In the movie The Crucible you see many scenes of hearings and trials all with the reverend standing in front of them. The reverend was in charge of making the final decision on what was in store for the accused’s life. If the reverend felt as if a person was associated with witchcraft or the devil and that person would not confess they would be hung, however, if that person did confess then they would be put in jail for a while or let go in return to be saved by God. In the movie, The Crucible, Abigail Williams confessed by saying “I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him”. Abigail knew if she was to confess to Reverend Hale she would simply get a less harsh punishment compared to if she was to be accused of being associated with the devil and denied ever coming in contact with the devil. If the Reverend believed you had partaken with the devil and had denied it then you would be hung. As a viewer you can tell that religion and politics are very similar in that time period and that they go hand in hand because of how similar they really are.
Social roles also played a huge factor into the lives of many within the society from The Crucible. People had roles that they knew they could not disobey because these roles played such an influence within their lives. Abigail Williams, for example, was helping the Proctor family out around the house when Goody Proctor had suspicions of adultery between Abigail and her husband. Once these suspicions became a reality Abigail was let go from helping their family. A viewer can tell that once a person disobeyed their
social role they were considered as an “outcast”. Another way I noticed social roles playing a part within The Crucible’s society was when John Proctor was about to sign his name off to be free with his wife but ended up ripping the paper into shreds because he could not bring himself to ruin his name. John said “because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life” shows how important having a good reputation towards a person’s name really is. In those days, a peb rson’s name was all that had. If that person tarnished their name that was it, there was nothing left to be worthy for. Both John Proctor and Abigail Williams knew this and that is why John ripped that paper to shreds and why when Abigail was asked why she no longer worked for the Proctor’s she did not state the real reason. These social roles impacted the everyday lives of the characters from The Crucible, anything from making one’s day better to ruining a person’s life could have happened because of these roles.
I noticed a lot of different ways that The Crucible could have been connected to our readings from our textbook, Concise Anthology of American Literature. Whether it is from having similar attributes of characters to representing the same faith within their religion there were multiple similarities I could identify.
The first comparison that jumped right out at me was between The Crucible and Anne Bradstreet’s story. As I was reading her story I noticed almost immediately the role that women were to play in her time period. Women were there solely to cook, clean, and raise the children. I noticed almost the same thing with watching The Crucible but with some variation. The women’s role from both the story and the movie was solely in the home to cook and clean, however, with The Crucible I noticed the women were aloud a bit more freedom compared to what I understood from the story of Anne Bradstreet’s. The second comparison I made was between The Crucible and one of the letters from the Correspondence. The letter I noticed the comparison was written by Benjamin Banneker to Thomas Jefferson asking to bring an end to slavery. There were scenes of slavery within The Crucible that led me to draw out this comparison.
In The Crucible there is a character named Tituba who is considered to be a slave, however, she had more freedom compared to the slaves from the time period of when the letter was written. If someone from that time period was caught running around in the woods at night without permission from whoever was in charge they would have been in serious trouble, a lot more trouble than Tituba was showed to have been in. The last comparison I made was between The Crucible and the journal entries of Byrd II. In his journal entries he speaks very highly of religion within every single one of them. Both the movie and the journal entries have very similar ways to show their faith to God because religion played such a huge role for everyone within those time periods. Within the journal entries he shows his faith to God by saying his prayers, reading his Hebrew, and thanking God for his blessing everyday while in The Crucible a person would show their faith to God by going to church every Sunday. You can see that religion plays a huge role in both Byrd II and the characters from The Crucible but they each show it in different ways. Throughout The Crucible and all of the readings from our textbook I have noticed many different types of societies that these people live in. Religion made up pretty much the entire story line of how the characters from The Crucible lived their lives and you can see where some of the stories we read also represented how important religion was to them. Also playing a role within everyone’s lives that we have either watched or read about were politics and social roles. It’s crazy that such little factor’s from our world today pretty much made up the society’s that form those time periods that we read and watch about.
Courtney from Study Moose
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