Free Essays on The Crucible: Dangers of Intolerance Exposed
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The Crucible: The Dangers of Intolerance
By detailing an incident that occurred in the village of Salem, Massachusetts, Arthur Miller provides great insights into the
phenomenon of mass hysteria in his play, The Crucible. In this story, Miller illustrates how different people react to mass
hysteria. Some people participate in the hysteria out of fear. Others think more rationally and try to find an explanation. But no
one can escape the dreadful impact of such event. Miller demonstrates how fear, intolerance, and frustration can cause people
to first neglect, and then accept their personal responsibilities.
John Proctor, a main protagonist in the story, realizes how dangerous the witchcraft accusations are when the court officials arrest his wife, Elizabeth, for witchcraft and attempted murder: “‘…The little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!…I’ll not give my wife to vengeance!’’’ (Miller 77). John Proctor is fearful for his wife. Before his wife was arrested, John was really unaware of the extent of danger behind the accusations of witchcraft in the village. At first, he feels suspicious about the hysterical girls’ behavior, but the fact that the trials did not directly affect his family makes him handle the events less seriously. Elizabeth’s arrest was a wake up call for John because now he is alert and aware that the witchcraft accusations must be stopped because innocent people are being put to death.
As he reacts to his wife’s arrest, he makes a very important decision. It is up to him to protest against the ongoing trials because no one else will. He then discovers that Mary Warren, the family’s servant knows much about the trials because of her role as an officer of the court. “‘You’re coming with me, Mary, you will tell it in the court…We will slide together into our pit; you will tell the court what you know.’’’ (80). John discovers that Mary knows that he witchcraft accusations are false. He then comes to this decision that it is his responsibility, as well as Mary Warren’s, to tell the court that the hysteria in Salem is based on lies and false accusations. It is because of a fear for Elizabeth’s life that John realizes his individual responsibility to save his wife, as well as to protect other innocent people from being accused and sentenced to death.