13 April 2015
Selfish Desires vs. Selfless Acts: Spiritual Leadership in The Crucible
A true spiritual leader follows the example of God. In the allegory, The Crucible by Arthur Miller, Elizabeth Proctor and Reverend Parris’ actions prove that ordination does not necessarily mean sound spiritual leadership. Miller uses the backdrop of the 1692 witch hunts to criticize the flawed society of Puritanism. The play is also a critique of McCarthyism in the United States of America which occurred in the 1950’s. Goody Proctor, a simple farmer’s wife, is the moral centre for John and becomes the voice of his salvation. Elizabeth’s honesty is compromised when she gives it up in an attempt to save her husband. Elizabeth’s compassionate hearts results in losing her loved one. She takes the guilt John feels upon her shoulders as she presumes she is the one responsible. Elizabeth’s moral values are stronger than those of Parris, despite her limited status in society. Alternatively, Reverend Parris, a misguided leader of the Puritan Church, embodies the exact opposite of what a religious leader should be. Parris not only lies in the court room but is more than willing to condemn other people so that he does not appear to be guilty. Parris’ thinly veiled motive to protect himself causes his own downfall in the end.
Elizabeth Proctor is truthful, proving to be a good Puritan woman whereas Reverend Parris lies to spare himself from blame. Abigail accuses Elizabeth of witchcraft and so when Reverend Hale, the witch specialist from Beverly, visits the Proctor household to question Elizabeth, she replies:
I cannot think the Devil may own a woman’s soul, Mr. Hale, when she keeps an upright way, as I have. I am a good...
... middle of paper ...
... is not able to take blame for the part he has played in the witch trials.
In the play, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, the actions of Reverend Parris and Elizabeth Proctor demonstrate that the appointment of being a minister does not always mean effectual leadership. Elizabeth possesses all the qualities that one should have to be a competent leader, her ability to put others before herself, her values such as truth which she holds dear to her heart, and the way in which she takes responsibility like an empowered leader should. Nevertheless, Parris, whose purposes do not serve his congregation, is willing to put those that he preaches to at Church at risk in an attempt to serve himself. One’s spirituality should never be dictated based on their standing in society.
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: Penguin Classics, 2003. Print.
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