Truth and the characters in this act Essay
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Arthur Miller wrote this play in accordance and reference to the persecution placed upon him and many others by the committee of un-American activities. He was persecuted for his way of thinking, and this inspired him to write the book ” The Crucible” to make people realise that history is repeating. In his mind, the way he and the other communists were treated bared a great likeness to that of the “witches” of Salem and the way the Jews were treated during the holocaust.
This, I think, is why the book and then the play had such a large effect on the country and the way the “un-American activities” committee treated the so called Comunists.
In the sixteen hundreds Salem was ruled by a theocracy so their ideas of truth and justice would have varied from ours. The puritans ideology was that if the bible says its so, it’s so. Most of us are now aware that most of the bible is not to be taken literally, but symbolically.
With relevance to the witch-hunt the puritans believed that no one would lie about something of such importance as witchcraft, after all ” god damns all liars” and what puritan in their right mind would wish damnation upon themselves. Of course we know that the girls had no fear about lying to ensure they get their own way.
So if anyone was accused they had to be guilty, and the only way they could save their lives would be to confess to witchery. If they did not confess they would be hung or killed by other means. This to me is a queer justice, as I should hope it is to you or any other fellow human. This however was not the case and many people died, these people can thank a foolish ideology for their death. In my mind the way and personality of the people of Salem did nothing to help the matter, in particular John Procter and Abigail Williams. Again the matter truth and honesty arises.
John and Abigail, having had an affair were both adulterers, if they were to confess this their name would be blackened. However if the truth was to arise John and Elizabeth’s names would be cleared of the crime of witchery and Abigail’s true motives would have been made clear. So if John and Elizabeth had been entirely truthful with the court they both would have survived. On the other hand if Abigail and the other girls had been truthful from the outset, the only punishment that would have been administered was a public flogging.
But we must not overlook the fact that regardless of the previous lies one more lie would have saved them all. If they had confessed to the crime they would have been free. It seems that the epiphany of honesty struck at the wrong time. As the maid to the Proctors, an official of the court and one of the accusing girls, Mary Warren had the power to stop all this foolishness. In act III Mary, with a little encouragement from Procter, does confess and tells the judges that it is all a false but she soon withdraws that claim when she herself is accused.
There is a great change in Mary’s character from acts I and II through III and IV. I think this is probably due to her supreme maturity to the other girls, she realises exactly how foolish she had been and what problems her lies were causing. Proctors behaviour affected the people of Salem in a great many ways. Primarily he was considered somewhat of a heretic due to the fact that he very rarely attended Holy Communion. He put this down to his dislike of Paris and his preaching of ” bloody hellfire and damnation” I don’t know how many believed this excuse.
Secondly Proctor was not afraid to stand up to the court and tell them how ludicrous they were being about the witch-hunt and trials. He was also the first to admit false confession. In general I believe he was a big influence on the people of Salem. If proctor had confessed to his adultery earlier as his wife Elizabeth beckoned him to, things would have been very different, he would have been a sinner but he would be free. In my eyes there is no justice in Salem. I put this down to mostly one person and that person’s judgement and ideology, Head judge Danforth. This is the main interrogator throughout the whole trial.
He does his job very well, too well. He has a talent at getting somebody to say something and then he twists this into a confession or accusation. He is very manipulative. Towards the end of the book it starts to show how hell bent he is on killing people. The other judges notice this and when they attempt to prove him wrong or attempt to show him how foolish he is being, he interrupts them. He believes everything Abby says simply because he wants to kill people. He is obsessed with the pain, death and social rejection of others. Of course he is going to snap up every inkling of a hint of witchcraft.
Perhaps he is mentally retarded or just I psycho. Another very manipulative character is Abigail. She is very successful, perhaps even more so than Danforth, at changing the way people think and even getting them to see things that aren’t there or Hallucinate. There are many examples of this. A good example of her mind-manipulation skills is in act III when Mary confesses the false of the accusations. She manages to get the other girls to think that the devil is present and that Mary is bewitching them. This convinces the Judges and Mary is accused of witchcraft and the confession falls through.
Abigail’s methods are very cleaver she is a very good actor. She knows many sure ways of getting people to believe her. When she is trying to make out that Mary Warren is bewitching her, she knows exactly how to convince the judges. She is able to convince herself things are actually happening when they are not. This is why the look in her eyes, her screaming and her cowering etc. are so convincing, because she believes that the devil is there. In the final moments of the last scene the whole truth is revealed and the audience are manipulated to fell sorry for the Proctors and hate Abigail.
And ultimately loose faith in goodness and perhaps even God. The scene is one of great emotion. Another very dramatic scene in the play is when Mary warren confronts the court to confess that the whole thing had been a lie. Not only does the sheer idea of the court finding out that they had convicted so many innocent people make it dramatic. In a desperate attempt to save themselves Abigail and the other girls claim that they can see Mary warren with the devil beside her. They start screaming and fainting and pretending to be cold, of course this is all a false but it makes the scene very dramatic.