The Role of Vengeance in Arthur Miller's The Crucible

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Throughout the endurance of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, vengeance plays a prominent role in the actions and fates of various characters. In many ways, vengeance fuels the need for retaliation. Disputes among neighbors has bred hatred and then witch trials brought out the vindictiveness of Salem's population. This leads to the deaths of many citizens in Salem by false accusations to the court. Citizens of Salem were utilizing the court system as a means of "extermination" for people who had interests or beliefs, that were contradictory to their own. As Miller states himself, "This predilection of minding other people's business was time-honored among the people of Salem, and it undoubtedly created many suspicions which were to feed the coming madness" (Miller 1235). The people of Salem were about to fall victims to their own court system, and be at the mercy of those with whom they held a grudge.

One instance in which a discord in beliefs lead to vengeance would be the conflict between John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, and Abigail Williams. After Elizabeth ostracized Abigail from the Proctor residence, due to her act of lechery with John, she once again sought a relationship with him. When told by John, "Abby put it out of mind, I'll not be comin' for you more" (Miller 1246), she vows retaliation. When out dancing in the forest, Abigail drank a malevolent charm with the intent of killing Elizabeth. With John's wife out of the picture, there would again be a place for Abigail in his life. At one point, Abigail becomes angered when John will no longer take her back in place of Elizabeth, and Abigail says, "She is blackening my name in the village! She is telling lies about me! She is a cold sniveling woman, and you bend to her" (M...

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... have vengeance by means of Salem's court.

Vengeance dictated the actions of many characters in Arthur Miller's The Crucible, just as Salem's court system became utilized as a means of retaliation for those characters. During the period of the witch trials, it became an opportunistic time for residents of Salem to have revenge on those who they abhor. Many used this opportunity to accuse others of witchcraft whether they were guilty or otherwise, in order to satisfy their own personal interests. Long enduring disputes were finally settled during this hysteric crisis, in which scant evidence was necessary for conviction. Since the institution of the witch trials, "Old scores could be settled on a plane of heavenly combat between Lucifer and the Lord" (Miller 1237). Overall, vengeance fueled the fire of retaliation in Salem during this period of witchcraft trials.
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