The Crucible by Arthur Miller

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

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Abigail Williams has a low reputation in the small village, and can be easily accused for witchcraft, yet she finds a way to avoid this.Abigail uses peoples reputation to her advantage, and accuses many others of witchcraft, taking the attention away from her. During the trials How does Abigail Williams and Danforth demonstrate the value of a “good” reputation in a puritan society? How does it relate to McCarthyism? And how did Abigail use it to her advantage? In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, Abigail Williams, a young girl in a small community, is accused to be a “Witch” after someone claims to have seen her dancing in the woods with the devil. Abigail is extremely significant character to this story, as she lead the small puritan society in Salem to the Salem Witch trials, which later on reveals each character's deepest value: Their Reputation. In this play, someones reputation can cost their lives, since the witch trials started, people with lower reputations are more vulnerable to be accused to be a “Witch”. Abigail, one of the accused victims, finds a way to use the power of reputation to control the outcome of her trial. She is the best example for explaining how reputation is so important.
Abigail is presented to the court with a group of girls who also have been with her during the night when she was caught dancing. She pleads “I want to open myself! . . . I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil” (Miller 45). She uses them as a scapegoat even though she knows that they have a high reputation in this village. This brings the villagers more fear that “Witches” can also be highly respected people, but so far they were the only ones with high reputations to be accused. Abigail knows that she now holds a high reputation, so she uses it to accuse others to cover up what she has done. She was considered wicked and sinful before the trials, and now is viewed by the village/court as an innocent young girl.

Danforth, a Salem judge, who believes that the court is always right,

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and highly respect throughout the village and has a good reputation. He of course can’t be accused of witchcraft due to his high standing point in the society. And even so, Abigail Williams figures a way to manipulate him using her new reputation. Danforth is blind to the true Abigail,and how she is manipulating him to accuse others to hide her past, and is a easy target to manipulate. Leaving out the fact he has a high reputation, he is a man of great integrity.“A person is either with this court or he must be counted against it”(Miller Act III), this quote shows his loyalty to the court, but also is a weak spot. Abigail uses Danforth like her own puppet, controlling who gets sent to jail or hanged. Even though Danforth his great integrity and a very high standing point in the society, Abigail overpowers him.

How does this all relate to McCarthyism? There are many factors in The Crucible that are similar to McCarthyism. In McCarthyism many people were falsely accused with little to no evidence, and in the play the girls had little to no evidence as well. Like the group of girls, they falsely accused many people with barely any evidence and let to the increase of hostility, same happens when McCarthy makes claims of people being communist. In McCarthyism people were afraid to stand up to Senator McCarthy in fear of being accused communist, and in the play the towns people were scared to stand up to the court in fear of being accused of being a witch. The Crucible is an excellent example of McCarthyism, and is also a great example of the power of reputation in a society.

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