Compassion is an emotion that is oftentimes viewed as a weakness instead of a strength. However, using the corrupted society portrayed in The Crucible, Arthur Miller demonstrates how compassion is necessary for people to survive together, as a society. He establishes this by using the self-centered Parris, whose lack of compassion is responsible for the witch-craze present in Salem. Parris’ dysfunctional relationship with his children causes the girls to lie about their activities in the forest which starts the hysteria around witches. Parris’ selfish desires of having a good reputation also causes him to lose compassion towards the people who are hanged because of the girls’ lie. Therefore, Miller shows how selfish desires lead to a society’s self-destruction because its members lack the compassion needed for the society to thrive.
Parris’ selfish desires prevent him from having an honest relationship with his children, which leads to the girls deceiving him about their dance in the forest. Parris is so focused on getting what he desires like money, power, and a good reputation, that it causes him to neglect his children. His disregard for his children is so significant to the play, that Miller uses this trait to define his character. When Parris is first introduced in the play, Miller describes him as “a widower with no interest in children, or talent with them. He considered them as young adults (Miller 3-4). This description of Parris shows how he never cared to spend time with his children and never developed a trusting relationship with them. His mistake of considering children as young adults stopped him from providing emotional support to Betty and Abigail. If he had thought of them as children wh...
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...is had told the truth to the judges, then he could have prevented the town’s destruction. Parris’ inability to display compassion towards his neighbours results in numerous deaths, and makes him responsible for the society’s self-destruction.
Using The Crucible, Arthur Miller states that, for societies to survive in times of crisis, people must overcome their selfish desires and show compassion to each other. He illustrates this by showing how selfish desires cause Parris to develop a dysfunctional relationship with his children. He also shows how Parris’ lack of compassion leads to him sacrificing innocent people to save his own reputation as a reverend. These weaknesses of Parris, not only destroy the society, but also cause him to lose everything he desired. Only when people start viewing compassion as a strength will they be able to build a successful society.
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