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been accused and was willing to name
In 1692, puritan Massachusetts was a difficult place to live. The
Puritans were people who had left England to live a pure and holy life
in America. They obeyed the laws of the bible and were a very
superstitious group of people. They believed that any behaviour that
opposed the bible, even the tiniest thing, was of the devil and his
In 1950’s America there was a Senator called Joseph McCarthy who led
the Un-American Activities committee. This meant that he was
in charge of ridding the continent of anything that was deemed
Un-American. It had not been long since the Second World War and all
Americans were very paranoid about the rise of communism in some of
the eastern European countries. Joseph McCarthy was not at all
interested in putting people in jail but ‘naming names’- he wanted to
know the names of those who were involved in communism. This process
was soon to be known as McCarthyism.
At the time of McCarthyism, Arthur Miller had a close friend who had
been accused and was willing to ‘name names’- Miller was angry and
began to write the crucible. The crucible is known as what is called
an Allegory. This means that it is written to subliminally show
something about one thing when it is being described as another. The
crucible describes the Salem which trials in 1692 but is meant to show
the complete similarities between it and 1950’s McCarthyism.
Two of the main characters in The Crucible are John and Elizabeth
Proctor. We learn at the beginning of the play that John and
Elizabeth have a very difficult marriage. There is growth in the
mistrust between them as we grow to learn that John has had an affair
with the reverend’s niece: Abigail. After numerous events John and
Elizabeth are sent to prison on the charges of witchcraft. Near the
end of the play they meet for one last time to discuss their course of
Faced with a difficult decision, John must choose between life and
truth. This decision is difficult because he wishes to live and see
his children grow up but he dare not lie about committing a crime he
is not guilty of. He will do only what his wife wishes. But what is
her wish? When her and John first meet in the prison she says to him
“The children are well. Rebecca Samuels keeps them” she says this with
the intent that John will feel a loss on the behalf of his children.
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This would imply that she wishes that her husband would choose life
over truth. However, later on in the text she says to him “I cannot
Judge you John” this implies that only God can Judge him. There is an
ongoing theme in the crucible about the Ten Commandments and “Do not
lie” is the 9th Commandment. This would therefore show that she would
like John to make the Christian decision to tell the truth. Even if
death is a consequence.
Not long after they meet Elizabeth says, “ I want you living John.
That’s for sure” This is a bold statement in which there is no hidden
agenda. Through this statement we can see as clear as crystal that
she wants her husband alive. Nevertheless she also says “ It is come
to naught that I should forgive you…It is not my soul. It is yours”
Yet again we see here that she is torn between her faith and her
husband. As a Puritan her faith instructs her to advise that her
husband tell the truth. Then he will be saved eternally not just on
this earth. However as a loving housewife and mother she is inclined
to believe that she cannot survive without her husband.
Elizabeth is filled with mixed emotions throughout the whole play.
She makes many statements that are easy to understand and have no
hidden meaning. However at one point in the play she says to her
husband “Only be sure of this, I know now: whatever you choose to do,
it is a good man does it” This declaration is a setback when you wish
to discover her true feelings. Elizabeth loves her husband and wants
him to live but she also wants him to die an honest man. She assures
him that whatever his choice may be, she is behind him all the way.
She believes that her husband is a good man and that he has been
forgiven of his sins. However she also believes that: what’s one more
sin when life and death are involved? By saying this is she is
showing some of the inner battle that she is constantly fighting.
This is a pert of the play where she really starts to reveal herself
to the audience.
Elizabeth says many a time throughout their meeting that “ It were a
cold house I kept” this would imply that she wishes John not return
because she is not worthy of the love that he has shown her. However
she also says “ I never knew such goodness in the world” this shows
that she is upset about her husbands death and that he is to Godly to
die. This is where she truly shows that she wants her husband to
If I were to direct the crucible I would tell the actress playing
Elizabeth that she needed to give off an heir of mystery. Elizabeth
is powerful character yet still submissive. She understands that the
stories of witchcraft are pretence but gives way to the beliefs of the
men. The actress playing Elizabeth should have a high status, which
is concealed in a lowly housewife. Never should she give off the
impression that she has thoughts of her own. Youth has no longer
provided her innocence and age has not yet granted her wisdom.
In conclusion I can say that Elizabeth wanted her husband to live.
She shows, on numerous occasions, that she feels that he is to good
for death. Despite the fact that she is always saying that: whatever
his choice is, it is the right one. She is always hinting that she
wishes he would choose life. Sadly in the end of the play he chooses
truth and death. However much this brings sorrow to Elizabeth she
soon realizes that John’s soul is secure in heaven and not lingering
on earth destined for hell.