The Crucible by Arthur Miller and The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving: The Role of Satan in Both

Texts from many different eras have attempted to comment on and advance different themes, especially from the colonial era.

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Two of these texts are “The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving, and The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Both of these works attempt to describe the role of Satan in the lives of the people from colonial times, and how these people they were affected by belief in Satan. In The Crucible, a witch scare spreads throughout the town of Salem, believed to have been caused by the Devil, resulting in the death of 19 people.

In “The Devil and Tom Walker”, Tom Walker makes a deal with the Devil, resulting in him destroying the lives of people who come to him for help. In the end, having everything he had worked towards disappear. The Crucible and “The Devil and Tom Walker” both comment on Satan’s rise and how the “invisible world” both negatively and positively impacted the people of the colonial era.

“The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving advanced the theme of Satan, causing many different effects. One of the effects was allowing people to use the idea of Satan as an excuse. During the Colonial era, many powerful people were attacked and it was stated that they had a pact with the devil.

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This caused speculation throughout the villages they lived in, sometimes ending in the death or imprisonment of these once important figures. “The Devil and Tom Walker” showed someone who had power, being the cause of everyone's hardships because of his greed and how he was in a league with the devil. The fact that in stories like “The Devil and Tom Walker,” the Devil was the cause of all issues, allowing the Devil to later be used as the causes for anyone's problems. Another way “The Devil and Tom Walker” promoted the theme of the “invisible world” was by commenting on the lengths people went for a possibility to get what the Devil could provide, and commented on the greed inside people. Tom Walker’s wife went through her house and grabbed everything she had that was valuable and went to the Devil in an attempt to make herself even more wealthy. This was Irving commenting on people’s greed, and how when presented the opportunity to become even wealthier, one will take risk their current wealth, and even their soul with the case if the Devil, for said opportunity.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller commented on how the people of the past viewed the Devil. During the witch scare in Salem, many of the accused witches eventually confessed to having a relationship with the Devil, where he provided something the accused witch would want, in exchange for being a witch and doing the Devil’s bidding. Peoples extreme Puritan beliefs from that time caused them to view any small abnormal thing such as dancing as witchcraft, making for a large number of accusations. The Puritan beliefs during this time also called for fear of the Devil, and for people to report any sign of the Devil so the people affected could be cleansed of their sins by God. People's fear in the Devil also allowed for some people to advantage of this, allowing them to settle disputes or arguments by calling the other person involved a witch and providing false testimony. In the case of “The Crucible,” Abigail uses her newfound power of being able to call people witches, to call out John Proctor’s wife as a witch, most likely so that she can take her place. Another way The Crucible comments on Satans rise is by highlighting how Satan was so feared, evidence of him could be taken in court seriously. During Colonial times, people had such large Puritan beliefs that people could say and act out as so they were being affected by Satan and this would be taken as serious evidence in the court of law against the accused witch. An example of this was Abigail saying she was being pinched, choked, attacked, and even pierced by needle by some of the witches on trial.

Texts such as The Crucible and “The Devil and Tom Walker” both comment on the rise of Satan during colonial times. These works attempt to take a closer look on how literature using Satan as a topic affected people’s lives. The Crucible commented on how people's extreme Puritan beliefs made people see the simplest things as signs of Satan, and this extreme belief provided an opportunity for people to take advantage of it. “The Devil and Tom Walker” showed how people would look upon Satan and the “invisible world” as a scapegoat for their problems, and people fully accepted this explanation. Works of literature such as “The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving and The Crucible by Arthur Miller both attempted to comment on how the rise of Satan affected the people who lived during the colonial era.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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The Crucible by Arthur Miller and The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving: The Role of Satan in Both. (2024, Feb 02). Retrieved from

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