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The Crucible Essay, Research Paper

Life brings us many trials and tests. If one were to look deeper into these trials and tests, it would be clear that there are always two sides. A good side and a bad side. This is more commonly known as the conflict between good and evil. Arthur Miller paints a picture for us in a play that contains many scenarios of good versus evil, and the characters who generally possess these feelings and intentions. But it must be understood that there are the intentions, the incentives, and then the actions taken out on a person or a group of people. Every character can act on either good or bad intentions. After that, almost every character has mixed feelings of evil or good actions. In Arthur Miller s The Crucible, the fight between the center of evil and the center of good is the most important of the themes.

Abigail Williams is the nucleus of all evil in the story. She is the character who triggers off a sense of hate. She tempts Proctor into lechery, and commits unlawful acts which all are against the Puritan religion. When she tries to escape punishment for dancing, she deflects the actions, blames them on someone else, and does not care how many lives she ruins. Later when she grows into power and influence, she seems to enjoy sending these innocent people to their deaths. She takes pleasure in her lies, and thrives on the attention and power that they bring her. She uses evil actions disguised as good by admitting who was with the devil. Of course the accused are actually innocent, but she has the ability to manipulate the authorities into believing that she is honest. Abigail says, I have been hurt, Mr. Danforth; I have seen my blood runnin out! I have been near to murdered every day because I done my duty pointing me out the Devil s people and this is my reward? To be mistreated, denied (Abigail 100) This again is evil.

John Proctor can be labeled as the center of good. Miller s use of the word crucible had a definite connection with the obviously similar word of crucifixion . Parallel to Christ, John Proctor had to make the decision of saving either himself or society. Again, parallel to Christ, Proctor chooses death, and chooses not to save himself by denouncing his friends. Proctor s initial failure to do good allows the events to get out of hand and leads him to a point where he must make a decision between saving himself, but probably killing his own friends by denouncing them or dying and recovering his sense of goodness. Proctor would never use anything to his advantage if it were to the expense of others. He chooses to go to the gallows because there is no other way to save himself without drawing suspicion to the names of his friends. He refuses to tell the judge and accuse anyone of being with Satan while under questioning. Therefore he may be considered a martyr, for dying for a cause of saving the lives of other innocent people. John Proctor also tries to defend his wife, and attempts to make the judge realize how Abigail is manipulating him. In the court scene, Danforth asks Proctor, You are charging Abigail Williams with a marvelous cool plot of murder, do you understand that? (Danforth 96) Proctor replies to this, I do, sir. I believe she means to murder {my wife}. (Proctor 96) This is where the conflict arises between good and evil. It is survival of the fittest. Who will survive at the end? Abigail Williams or John Proctor? This is the main battle of the story.

One more fault Proctor has is committing lechery with Abigail. This is evil, because it is against the Puritan rules. Abigail and Proctor are both at fault. Ann Putnam was greatly influenced by Abigail’s doings, to the point where she began to follow the same strategy. She then accuses Rebecca Nurse of witchery to escape her own accusers. This deflection is used to keep herself out of trouble. Consequently, Ann Putnam is then considered evil, for using deflection. Marry Warren’s intentions at the beginning of the story were to do good and justice. But she sees that when she is in trouble, she also needs someone to deflect the punishment on. This greed results in her saying that Proctor was associated with Satan, and that he possessed her and made her do all of her wrong actions. She says, while pointing at Proctor, You re the Devil s man! (Mary Warren 110) Her intentions were first good, but then her actions turned into pure evil, just like Abigail had done. Reverend Hale also is deceived into the traps of Abigail, and accidentally goes along with her plans. He thought he was doing good, but his actions turned out to be evil and wrong. He later realizes that he was being manipulated by Abigail and decides to make up for his actions so he can be good. Hale begins by visiting the accused in jail and telling them to confess to being with the Devil so they may get out alive. This action is wrong against the Puritan code, but his incentives are to do good so the people will not be falsely executed. He can therefore be considered good at the end of the story.

Beyond the theme of the ongoing battle between good and evil, Miller uses some symbolism. He uses Proctor to symbolize Jesus Christ, and Abigail Williams to symbolize the devil. The ongoing fight in the play is parallel to the ongoing battle between good and evil in life. With every choice we face, though not always evident, there is a pure or good alternative and an evil one. We need to learn to choose the right way.


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