Events Which Take Place Essay
Events Which Take Place
After reading ‘The Crucible’, I feel that in a society like the one described in the play, things along those lines would have been inevitable, when one takes into account the way things worked there. For example, it was a theocracy, which means they are governed by the Church, which in turn goes by the ruling of the Holy Bible, and not any laws passed by regular means. Another major contributor to all this tension is the fact that out of the eight children, Ruth is the only one who survived. Mrs Putnam is convinced that they have all been killed by supernatural means, and is always paranoid and suspicious of anything out of the ordinary.
This means when the cries of witch start spreading, she is convinced she has at last found the cause of death of her seven infants, and is determined to see those she sees as responsible hanged. She seems so desperate to pin the blame on someone who cannot be proven either way that it seemed that she was almost looking for any scapegoat to take the blame for those unfortunate events. She even goes as far as to send her only remaining child Ruth to Tituba in an attempt to get her to conjure spirits so she could contact the souls of her dead children.
This ties her into things, but she never really emerges in the play as a candidate for any kind of punishment. This has most probably come as a result of her husband being a powerful landowner, making any allegations against him or his family like playing with fire. With this being a theocratic society, where the Church and State are one, and the laws given down by God are interpreted very strictly and literally by the people here, which means that breaking the law here would also be going against God’s will, so the consequences of any offence are dire.
In Salem, everything can be classed as black or white, with God, or in league with the devil; with no shades of grey in between. This is shown by Danforth’s speech: “You must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there is no road in between. ” This kind of attitude makes everyone very afraid of being seen as not closely bonded with God, as it would imply that they had dealings with the Devil.
As Puritans, these strict Christians believe the worst thing that they can do is to defy ‘God Almighty’, so when John Proctor ends his affair with Abigail, she uses these accusations, as they demand the full attention of the court, right away. She is very clever in what she says, as shown by her outburst at the end of Act One, after Tituba confesses to witchcraft in the woods. She screams: “I want to open myself! … I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand.
” And in Salem, although consorting with the Devil and “witchcraft’s a hanging error’, confessing it would redeem her, and freeing her from any kind of guilt. She uses this very well to protect her own reputation, and is quick to start naming names to ease the burden from her shoulders onto others. These actions show the length of Abigail’s selfishness, and its success in Salem sets and example for the other girls who are quick to latch on and do the same, thus suggesting Abigail may be the cause of events which take place in the Crucible.
When Abigail and a few other girls are spotted dancing in the woods, and someone was seen to be naked and running around, they are immediately under suspicion, and were under great pressure to come out with a plausible explanation. This meant that instantaneously, they were all forced into a defensive position against the public and the courts. After Parris learns that the Putnams asked Tituba to contact the spirits of their dead children to learn the identities of their murderers, spotlights instantly turned onto the girls, under the accusations of witchcraft.
This scares many of the girls like Mary Warren who know that ‘Witchery’s a hanging error’ and once she says that, panic ensues amongst the girls themselves. Abigail seems at first to be trying to help things out, but shows she had a short temper, by shouting ‘I’ll beat you Betty’ when Betty refuses to waken even when knowing it’s Abigail. It is then revealed that she is jealous of Goody Proctor, and drank blood on that occasion to kill her through supernatural means, but then threatens to kill anyone who dared to reveal this.
This threat has come directly out of her fear of the punishment she will no doubt receive in such a theocratic society, making her the cause of this particular dramatic event, but only as a result of the type of society Salem is in the play, and therefore she is actually a symptom. Another good example of this is when at the climax of the play, Proctor finally weighs it out, and discards his concern for his reputation in seeking justice, by confessing to his affair: “I thought of her softly.
God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. ” But he is still careful to mention the power of God beforehand, which goes to show the extent of religion’s influence in the town, by starting with “A man may think God sleeps, but God sees everything, I know it now,” before going onto saying that the court must see, that “it is a whore’s vengeance” upon him. We also see in the play that her actions are far from ordinary in many cases and would have taken more than the average person to pull off.
For example, even when Mary Warren confesses that ‘She never saw familiar spirits, apparitions, nor any manifest of the Devil’ she stands strong in denying that she had feigned anything. We see that she had been the cause of many catastrophic events had taken place, as well as being the symptom in what seemed inevitable in such a backstabbing and hypocritical society, and she has come across as a catalyst. Just as a catalyst, she speeds up the changes in the pressurised crucible that is Salem.
Being the catalyst in this situation, she had a lot of control over the direction of the witch-hunt, and she mainly directed the accusations for her own personal gain. However, she starts to lose control when Mary Warren goes over to John Proctor’s side, and things go very wrong when John Proctor is accused, since the whole point of the witch-hunt for Abigail was so that she could finally be with him. It seems that even after she stops accusing people, the witch-hunt has gained great momentum, and people are accusing others of witchcraft whenever their loss may be at all beneficial to another, or at times for their own benefit.
These latter accusations, needed no provocation from Abigail, but took course all by themselves, suggesting that Abigail was not at the centre of any of those events. So to conclude, my opinion is that Abigail is not entirely the symptom nor the cause of events in Salem, but acted as more of a catalyst, speeding up and making what was inevitable considering the society which Salem was, into reality, in a rather dramatic way.
If I were however, to seem things as black and white as the people of Salem did, I would consider Abigail to be more of a symptom than a cause, mainly because after carefully studying the theocratic society where people were getting overly jealous of each other, something along these lines almost seemed to be destined. Also, the frightening power of the majority is able to suppress the minority who feel rather sceptical and are not convinced by the evidence may themselves be accused of being ‘against the court’ and receive punishment.
This would mean standing up for their beliefs which in this case would have been correct would mean they would have lost their lives. So considering the circumstances of the rather extreme philosophical and religious guidance which plays such a huge role in the settlers of Salem, and the fact that Abigail was able to put a leash on things to direct it in a direction which benefited her does not make her a symptom either, just a catalyst in an equation with all the ingredients for such a terrible tragedy.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 July 2017
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