The Puritan Myth

The Puritan Myth

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The Puritan Myth
The Puritans cam to America in the late 1500's and early 1600's for the freedom
to practice their own religion. Their whole way of life was based off of their strict religion.
They had a fait-based theocracy. The puritans where to follow the bible strictly. That was
not always how it was. The "Puritan" lifestyle which they where expected to follow was
really a myth. Merriam-Webster states that a myth is an unfounded or false notion. Many
of these people where portrayed in the play by Arthur Miler called "Crucible". Some of
the ways they were hypocritical where in that they did nor follow the ten commandments
and they where not kind people to each other.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary the word hypocrite means a person
who puts forth on a false appearance of virtue or religion. In 1692 the colony of
Massachusetts was plagued by a witchcraft hysteria that resulted in the death of at least
twenty people and the jailing of at least 150 others ( Miller 1033 ). This witchcraft hysteria
was known as the Salem witchtrial.
During this time many puritans went back on their religion. One of the big ways
they were hypocritical was that they disobeyed many of the ten commandments. The main
ones where: A- Thou shall not murder, B- Thou shall not lie, and C- Thou shall not
commit adultery.

A. Thou shall not murder. At least 20 people where murdered due to the
tubornis of the people to accept they where wrong in their accusations.
B- Thou shall not lie. This is perhaps the most important on of them all. The
whole witchtrial was based off of lies. "Don't lie! She comes to me while I sleep;
he's always making me dream corruption's!" ( Miller 1058 ). This is an example
of irony and hypocrisy. Abby is accusing Tituba of coming to her in her dreams
with the devil but this is not true. When Abby tells Tituba not to lie she is in fact
lying herself and also not following the commandments.
C- Thou shall not commit adultery. IN this play John Proctor cheats on his
wife with Abigail. "I have known her, sir. I have know her." ( Miller 1098). In this
sentence John admits to adultery. Although John was a good man because of this

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and the way of life that the Puritans live in he should be sent to hell. Since he did
not live up to the expectations of how it was to be he supported the fact that the
Puritan myth was true.
The Puritans where thought to be a kind, gentle, and loving people who cared for
their neighbors and helped out when needed, or that is how the Puritans where thought to
be but this was also false. Especially during the time of the Salem witchtrials. People
where lying to each other, accusing others of false actions, and being selfish in only doing
what would help themselves out. The group of girls which where accused of witchcraft
did all of the above. The girls lied about many people who where seen with the devil, some
even their elders which they where told to respect. When one of the girls decided to admit
that it was all pretend the others disowned her and said that she was lying about them
lying. Danforth was another main example of the fact that some of the Puritans where
selfish. Danforth towards the end may have sensed that the girls where lying and instead of
accepting that is was in fact a lying and letting the people live he did not. He was worried
that he would be thought of as a fraud for going back on his word. If this

happened he would not get the big job in Boston where he would be on the supreme
court. In being selfish, Danforth lied and did not respect his fellow Puritans.
The Puritan way of life was a life that was pure and clean. This life followed the
Bible directly and they where not to commit any sins. The Puritan life was also a life that
no human could live up to. The Puritans back in the 1600's thought this is how they lived
their lives but in fact they did not. This life was a myth because they where in reality
hypocrites in more ways then one. The main and probably most important point is the fact
that they did not follow the Ten Commandants which where in the bible and of which their
whole way of life was based off of. They disobeyed many commandments. They main ones
where: Thou shall not murder, thou shall not lie, and thou shall not commit adultery. The
people portrayed in Arthur Millers play where cruel to each other. They only cared for
themselves and their well being. In doing this they did not live up to the expectations of
the proper lifestyle of a Puritan proving that it was an unfounded and false notion.
"Let you fear nothing! Another judgment waits us all!"
( Miller 1118 )


Works Cited
Miller, Arthur. "The Crucible." Literature: The American Experience. Prentice-Hall, 4th
ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Simon and Schuster Education Group. c.
1996. Pgs. 1034-1119

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