20th century drama Essay
20th century drama
As head of court Danforth also holds pull within Salem and is able to make his views known and perhaps persuade a few to adopt them. He is a figure of authority yet shows much prejudice and allows no one to change his mind. Proctor and Danforth, two men of unmistakable force face each other in court when John is charged with witchcraft. Many of those charged with witchcraft within The Crucible admit to the crime even though they did not commit it and blame others in order to save themselves, however John Proctors honesty and values lead him to tell the truth in court and admit that he believes the whole situation to be a scandal.
His truth telling eventually leads to his death however if this would prove his and his friends innocence then this is a price he feels he has to pay. His motivation is his pride and his morals and to show he community the ridiculousness of the situation. He wishes to combat Abby’s revenge. In order to prove Abigail Williams is not to be trusted and has merely set out to punish him he tells the court that she is a whore and that they had an affair together.
When asked about this Elizabeth goes against every moral fibre and lies saying that he did not commit adultery to the court in order to save her husband against charges of lechery, or so she believes. This is dramatic irony as the audience knows this is far from the truth and by lying she is in fact ultimately sentencing him to death. Proctor is angered and frustrated by the behaviour of the community and the court and he declares that “God is dead”. The court and majority of the community take this as an admission of guilt, and that this proves he is at one with the devil; however the audience know that it is to the contrary.
It means that there can be no God if there is such injustice in the world. Both Danforth and Hale wish Proctor to confess but for very different reasons. Danforth wishes to be branded a hero for rooting out those involved in witchcraft and getting to the bottom of the situation and ceasing all panic where as hale feels guilty that his teachings have lead to many innocent men’s lives being taken and he wishes to prevent this from happening if possible however he cannot prevent the other prisoners from sacrificing there lives in order to retain there self respect.
Before Proctors sentence, those put to death were of a low class and seen as socially unimportant yet this did not matter to Proctor as every life taken was a travesty to him and this contributes to the fact that he denies involvement in witchcraft after consideration. Elizabeth is distraught that proctor will hang, they have an understanding that this is the only was forward for them. All they wish for is forgiveness from one another before the deed is done. ‘I have deeds of my own to count.
It needs a cold wife to prompt lechery’ Elizabeth is finally taking some of the blame for Johns adultery. They wish to clear the air before he is put to death. Elizabeth also wishes for Proctor to forgive himself also. ‘it comes to naught that I should forgive you if you not forgive yourself. ‘ Proctor love for his family and wife leads him to sign the paper of admission and live for them however he realises he cannot go through with it and go against his own morals.
‘How can I live without my name? I have given you my soul, leave my name! ‘ This shows that he believes if he lies he would be sacrificing his name which all he has left of his pride and it would be tainted, and thus in his eyes, unworthy of life. The fact he is sacrificing his life in order to show the ridiculousness of the whole situation is heroic even though he has partially upon himself as his intimidating status and admission of lechery lead the community to expect the worst of him.
Throughout the play Arthur Miller is trying to address the issues of McCarthyism and human weakness. He is attempting to show how small incidents can be blown out of proportion if jealousy and other human weaknesses are involved. He shows the human tendency to conform and how this can lead to downfall. He emphasises the importance of truth and loyalty as through death proctor gains respect for himself and saves the community from even more widespread destruction. These issues are still important in contempory situations.
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