The Role of Fear Depicted in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

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The play “The Crucible” is an allegory for the McCarthyism hysteria that occurred in the late 1940’s to the late 1950’s. Arthur Miller’s play “the crucible” and the McCarthyism era demonstrates how fear can begin conflict. The term McCarthyism has come to mean “the practice of making accusations of disloyalty”, which is the basis of the Salem witch trials presented in Arthur Miller’s play. The fear that the trials generate leads to the internal and external conflicts that some of the characters are faced with, in the play. The town’s people fear the consequences of admitting their displeasure of the trials and the character of John Proctor faces the same external conflict, but also his own internal conflict. The trials begin due to Abigail and her friends fearing the consequences of their defiance of Salem’s puritan society. The witch hunt in the crucible is initiated when Abigail and her friends fear the consequences of their ‘dancing’ in the forest. This connects to McCarthyism as the HUAC is represented by the judges and the ‘accuses’ (the girls) are representatives of Elia Kazan and others like him. The theocratic society of Salem is what the girls fear as the forest is seen as the devils resting place and the puritan nature of the town forbid dancing as it was seen as ‘vain enjoyment’ which as Miller himself states at the beginning of the novel to not be allowed. The character of Mary Warren begs the girls to just admit they were dancing as “…you’ll only be whipped for dancin’…”, but as Abigail is questioned and Parris mentions the kettle and how he believed “…there to be some movement- in the soup…”, the devil becomes prominent in the conversation. This is due to Abigail fearing that she will be blamed for devil worshipp... ... middle of paper ... ...h, his wife, does not want to admit her husband’s deceit, proctor is accused of lying to the court. When Proctor confesses his sin of lechery he feels better and his internal guilt is freed. This is different to the end of the play where he signed the confession to witchcraft. He later rips it up as could not live with himself if he were to allow Abigail to get away with her lies, through confessing to something he did not do. In ripping up the confession he is also able to keep his good name which he says at the end is all he has left, his name, and he does not want to give it away. In conclusion, the fear generated by Abigail and the other girls, which began initially with their own fear of punishment, caused the town’s fear and lead to John proctor’s external and internal conflict. Therefore making true the statement the prime instigator of conflict is fear.

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