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The Crucible Essay, Research Paper

The play The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, was about the Salem witchcraft

trials that killed many Puritans in Massachusetts. In this play, Miller shows the reader

that the Puritans, as a whole were not as godly as they were portrayed. Miller also shows

how mass hysteria can be sparked by almost anything. The play takes place in Salem,

Massachusetts in 1692. Reverend Parris?s daughter, Betty, falls sick and for some reason

the townspeople suspect witchery. Taking advantage of this situation, a group of

unrespected girls that are greedy and envious of other people?s property and belongings

start to accuse people of witchcraft. The court believes them and after all is said and

done, twenty people are put to death, one hundred and fifty are jailed, and the girls flee.

Through this experience, John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, and Reverend John Hale all

experience drastic changes in beliefs, habits, and morale.

John Proctor is a very dynamic character who changes almost everything about

himself from the play?s beginning to the play?s end. In the second act, Proctor talks with

Elizabeth and finds out that Mary Warren had left the house without permission. As soon

as he sees her, John grabs her by the cloak, furiously shaking her, and says, ?How do you

go to Salem when I forbid it? Do you mock me? Ill whip you if you dare leave this

house again!? This statement demonstrates Proctor?s quick temperedness and shows that

he is a very emotional person. John Proctor is not a very godly man because he doesn?t

go to church much. He even cheated on his wife Elizabeth although he still cares for her.

When she is charged with witchcraft, he goes to the court in an attempt to defend her.

Here he learns to control his anger while becoming a calmer and more reasonable person.

After Mary Warren turns on him and accuses him, Proctor goes to jail and becomes a

completely different person. He realized the flaws in himself and had come to peace with

God. Right before his hanging he says, ?Then who will judge me? God in heaven, what

is John Proctor, what is John Proctor?? In the end he decides to stand up for what he

believes in and die Christian. Not only did John Proctor change, but his wife Elizabeth

Proctor changed throughout the story as well.

Elizabeth Proctor didn?t seem to compassionate or caring when she talked with

John in act two. She scrutinizes everything that John does ever since he had an affair

with Abigail. Elizabeth is very suspicious of him. There doesn?t seem to be any love in

their relationship. When Proctor was just trying to make a point about proving Abigail

wrong, she automatically accuses him of something that he didn?t do. She accuses so

much that he finally says, ?Spare me! You forget nothin? and forgive nothin?. Learn

charity woman. I have gone tiptoe in this house all seven months since she is gone. I

have not moved form there to there without I think to please you, and still an everlasting

funeral marches round your heart. I cannot speak but I am doubted, every moment

judged for lies, as though I come into a court when I come into this house.? She goes

through the same ordeal as described with John Proctor except that she is charged with

witchcraft first. This experience changes her character and attitude toward John. This is

noticed when she and John meet for the first time in quite a while, right before John is to

be hanged. When they first see each other, emotions flow between them, preventing

anyone from speaking for an instant. They show a lot of compassion for each other and

now Elizabeth will not judge John even when he asks her. She keeps saying, ?I cannot

judge you, John, I cannot!? This is exactly the opposite of how she was acting in the

beginning of the play. Another character that goes through a drastic change is Reverend

John Hale.

Reverend John Hale does not change much in the attributes of his character but he

does dramatically switch roles in the play. At first he plays the bad guy of the play. He

goes around arresting innocent people just because some girl told him to. He is very

gullible. Just because the girls start to name random names of people that they claim to

have seen with the devil, he says, ?Let the Marshall bring the irons.? Then, as he sits

through the proceedings of the court, he realizes that the court is corrupt and that he has

been making a mistake by arresting all these people. While in court he says, ?Is every

defense an attack upon the court? Can no one-?? and after court is adjourned he says, ?I

denounce these proceedings, I quit this court!? He then changes to the side of Proctor

and the rest of the victims. He feels sympathy for them and goes to the jail in order to try

and save their lives. He pleads with them to confess, and rejoices when they finally do.

This experience might have changed his views and beliefs about witchcraft, and perhaps

about his religion too.

Through this experience, John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, and John Hale all

experience drastic changes in beliefs, habits, and morale. Although a lot of characters

were changed by the experience of the Salem Witchcraft trials, I believe that these three

were changed the most. They all changed for the better gaining strong religious beliefs,

compassion, or good judgment. The Crucible was a very interesting play that gave

insight into the Salem witchcraft trials. It also demonstrates how mass hysteria starts

with people beliefs and accusations. This play is a good lesson to teach us not to make

the same mistakes that these people made. It also showed how petty human emotions can

get out of hand. In all three of these cases we learned that character is formed under

situations such as this. You will never know how you will react under pressure unless

you experience it. As someone once said, ?Pain is a great teacher of men; the soul grows

under the breath of pain.?

blah


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