Human Flaws in Arthur Miller's The Crucible

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Human Flaws in Arthur Miller's The Crucible

Many of the characters in Arthur Miller's The Crucible have specific human flaws that cause the tragedy of the Salem Witch Trials. The Salem villagers exhibit failings, including greed, vengeance, and fear, which eventually lead to the downfall of their town. Many villagers, especially Abigail Williams, take advantage of the opportunity to seek vengeance on others through the trials. Greed for power and land often holds precedence when the hysteria takes over. Fear of being arrested or put to death is the key motivation in turning others in as witches. From these three human flaws, the town of Salem falls into chaos with many innocent people paying the price.

Vengeance plays a key role in causing the mass hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials. Abigail Williams, who?s probably most to blame for the trials, acts out of revenge. She and John Proctor have had an affair and when Elizabeth Proctor finds out, she throws Abigail out of their house. During the trials, Abigail is still in love with John Proctor and goes after Elizabeth out of vengeance. Elizabeth tries to explain this to John, who is in disbelief: she ?thinks to kill me, then to take my place? (61). Abigail?s main motive for destroying Elizabeth is revenge for being thrown out of the house and for having John Proctor, the man that she loves. Another character who seeks revenge is Mrs. Putnam, who has had seven children die shortly after childbirth and blames her midwife, who has many children. Rebecca Nurse is charged ?for the marvelous and supernatural murder of Goody Putnam?s babies? (71). The trials are an opportunity for Ann Putnam to seek vengeance against Rebecca for having healthy children and grandchild...

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... life and goes back to these girls who turned on her in an instant. Others even confess to witchcraft because, once accused, it is the only way to get out of being hanged. The confessions and the hangings actually promote the trials because they assure townsfolk that God?s work is being done. Fear for their own lives and for the lives of their loved ones drives the townspeople to say and do anything.

In The Crucible, Arthur Miller shows that the tragedy of the Salem Witch Trials stems from human failings, particularly the need for vengeance, greed, and fear. Abigail Williams is an example of all three. Her fear prompts her to first accuse random women, her need for vengeance directs her toward Elizabeth, and her greed for power affects the lives of everyone around her. Individual flaws, when acted on collectively, inevitably cause the downfall of Salem.
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