Free Essays on The Crucible: Theme Development

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Theme Development in The Crucible The Crucible by Arthur Miller is a historical play, but more importantly a social and psychological drama. The various ways the themes are developed through The Crucible are through characters, plot, setting and dialogue. The importance of the witch-trials is, according to Raymond Williams, that in them 'the moral crisis of a society is explicit, is directly enacted and stated, in such a way that the quality of the whole way of life is organically present and evident in the qualities of persons' (Drama from Ibsen to Brecht, 1968). For Williams this is a dramatic device that enables the playwright to explore the evil forces in Salem society let loose by the revelation of witchcraft. Rebecca nurse warns that 'there is prodigious danger in the seeking of loose spirits. I fear it. I fear it. Let us rather blame ourselves!' But her warning is not heeded and a pandora's box is opened. We see the greed of Thomas Putnam; the quest for revenge on those who have wronged them, carried out by Martha Corey and Abigail Williams; Ann Putnam's jealousy of the fertile Rebecca Nurse and Abigail's jealousy of Elizabeth Proctor; the ambition of Hale and Parris, both of whom seek public approval; the fear of punishment that initially motivates Abigail and the other girls; then the revelling in power they display during the trial. Above all The Crucible investigates the mass hysteria which infects the whole community. The notion of evil is central to The Crucible. To understand the play without thinking about what Miller is trying to say on the subject is not possible. It is obvious that we are looking at wickedness as it is after all, the story of a witch-trial, and involves a good deal of both physical and spiritual cruelty. What is not so obvious is that the playwright is setting up two different models of evil. He shows us what people take it to be, and then demonstrates that they have got it largely wrong. They are looking in the wrong place, chasing the wrong symptoms, prosecuting the supposedly wicked and leaving the genuinely bad untouched. The false model of evil is something defined by a set of external rules- not going to church regularly, not knowing the commandments, cursing and living out of wedlock. These were the tests that were given to the accused in the witch-trials and were proven guilty. The model of good, which is still false, is that obeying these same rules equates to good. By this false model, Parris, the Putnams and the girls are all pure. We stereotype, and ignore individual variations. We confuse the external show with the internal truth, and we get into the sort of nightmarish charade which

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