The Importance of Religion to the Community of Salem

The Importance of Religion to the Community of Salem

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The Importance of Religion to the Community of Salem

The puritans led a very simple but hard lifestyle. When they weren't
working they were in church or praying, which gave them little, if any
time to socialise and enjoy themselves. They led their whole life
trying not to break any of the Ten Commandments set by God in The
Bible.

In 1630 the puritans were still living in Britain under the reign of
Charles I. They wanted to leave because they were being persecuted for
their religious beliefs by the English church. Between 1620 and 1640,
nearly 50,000 Puritans left England for America, where they soon
formed several towns. Unlike now, in the seventeenth century America
was an exotic place, it seemed like the perfect escape route for the
Puritans as it was far away from England and free from the persecution
they were currently suffering.

It was very brave of the puritans not to just take the easy way out
and stay in Britain. They devoted their lives to religion and God and
proved this when they moved to Salem in order to be able to practice
in peace.

Each of the characters in The Crucible have different feelings about
how they want to be looked at by the rest of the community of Salem.
John Proctor is a prime example of this, he cares a lot about his name
in the town, but his morals take over when he admits about breaking
one of the ten commandments by sleeping with Abigail. He had to do
this to try and stop the lies Abi was telling about his wife,
Elizabeth, but this backfired on him when Elizabeth tried to help him
by denying what he'd done as she didn't know that he'd confessed. It
is only at the very end of the play that Proctor realises what the
right thing to do is, the choice is between blackening his name in
Salem or being hung. He accepts that he must be hung like the rest of
the innocent people and so leaves Elizabeth and his children to live

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without him. Some of this could also be counted against Proctor
though, Pride is one of the seven deadly sins and to have too much
pride could be seen as a threat by the other townsfolk of Salem. But
in the end Proctor finds peace with God, Salem and most importantly
himself in accepting the inevitable and being hung.

Rebecca Nurse and Giles Corey both do the right thing from the
beginning, unlike Proctor who changes his mind a few times. Both Goody
Nurse and Giles are unwilling to lie to save themselves, they would
rather die than go against the laws of God. Giles also managed to die
with his dignity intact by answering neither yes or no to the
allegations made against him but simply saying, "more weight" and
being crushed to death.

Mary Warren and the other girls all followed what they thought was
right to do because Abigail made them believe that it was, Mary did
start to believe in herself and realise that what the girls were doing
was wrong but she wasn't strong enough or independent enough to follow
through her accusations about what Abigail was doing. Abigail seems
not to know the difference between right and wrong. At one point she
did apologise but by then it was too late, she broke many of the ten
commandments and so didn't see the point in going back on her words as
she had already sinned. If she had known the difference between right
and wrong then she would have told the truth from the beginning and
none of this would have happened and no one would have died. At one
point Abigail also claims to be doing God's work, this is ironic as
she is in fact doing the exact opposite and doing the work of the
Devil. In one way you could accuse her of being a murderer as she was
responsible for the deaths of many innocent people.

Reverend Parris, Abigail's uncle, also had problems with the concepts
of right and wrong. Being the minister the people of Salem should be
able to look up to him but he is more interested in material things
like the amount of money he gets paid and his house. At the beginning
of the play he's worrying about himself when his daughter was lying in
bed unable to do anything.

Hale had strong moral values at the beginning of the story and did
everything by his books, which were "weighted with authority." He was
sure he was right about the devil being present in Salem and so did
everything he could to find out who was guilty of witchcraft. By the
end of the story Hale has realised how wrong he had been but by this
time it was too late, people had already hung for what him and
Danforth had said, this shows how strong his morals were again at the
end of the play, even though he shouldn't have lied he did the right
thing in order to save any more people from death. Danforth was the
combined authority of church and state, it appears that he's afraid of
correcting himself and admitting when he's made a mistake because it
would undermine the authority of the court. This is an example of how
he doesn't want to hurt his pride, which is one of the seven deadly
sins. By the end of the story, the audience can clearly see that
Danforth is now only convicting people to give himself the feeling
that something was wrong in the first place and that he didn't kill
all those people for no reason.

The language used in the book also represents the importance of
religion. The characters regularly refer to the Bible when simply
talking in conversation, there are often remarks like, "God be
praised", used when characters are happy, or talk of hell and the
devil when something goes wrong. As all of the people in Salem know
the Bible very well they use stories out of it in reference to their
current situations. Hale, who has come to Salem only to try and solve
the problems cause by Abigail and her friends, talks of the books he
uses and the knowledge he has as "the very crowns of the holy law". "I
have gone this three months like our lord into the wilderness", Hale
shows here how, like Jesus, he's had a lot to cope with and a lot to
think about. This is also a chance for him to show off his knowledge
of the Bible and in some way prove that he is completely dedicated to
his religion.

Elizabeth Proctor also manages to turn the story of Moses and the
Israelites into a current situation, she knows how Abigail influences
the other girls' minds and "where she walks, the crowd will part like
the sea of Israel".

The first names of the characters in the play and others who are
mentioned are taken from the Bible. This was usual in this time,
giving someone a name, which will give them a kind of role model, or
someone to look up to. If they acted like the people they were named
after they would have a good life and be happy. Names such as Ezekiel,
Isaac and Susannah are taken from the Old Testament and names like
John, Martha and Elizabeth are lifted from the New Testament.

In the first scene of the play, set in Betty's bedroom, there is very
little light coming in through the small window on the far side of the
room, this represents how there is only a very small amount of
goodness in Salem at this time. There are only a few people who are
truly practicing the religion as it should be done, the rest have
either broke one of the Ten Commandments or one of the seven deadly
sins. The people who have sinned are those represented by the almost
complete darkness filling the rest of the room, dark being related to
the Devil and his work. The room is almost like a small version of
Salem, both are basic and dull and lack any form of excitement.
Towards the end of this act there are a lot of people all crammed into
this one room, it makes it seem a lot smaller and a lot more frantic,
the lack of goodness to do with the fact that the girls are starting
to point the finger at people as being witches when they're just
making it up. This is similar at the end of each act, tension mounts
about lies or something gets found out, this is all connected to how
the devil seems to be taking over in Salem. The idea of the crucible
bubbling away and then turning into a fiery blaze, just like Hell.

There are ironic situations in the play where the audience know
something that some of the characters on stage don't. When Proctor's
being questioned about whether he knows the 10 commandments or not,
it's ironic how he will say all but adultery because he doesn't want
to admit that adultery is a sin. Even though he has broken one of the
Ten Commandments, he's obviously very ashamed of it. Also, we know
that Mary Warren stuck the needle in the poppet she gave to Elizabeth
for safe keeping, but Abigail played on the fact she saw her put it
there and decided to try and get Elizabeth into trouble for it. The
judges think that this is an act of witchery so they arrest Elizabeth,
not knowing that Elizabeth really is telling the truth. When John and
Abigail are in court and John confesses to have "known" Abigail, we
know that he has confessed but when Elizabeth comes in she wants to
save her husband from the humiliation of breaking one of the Ten
Commandments and so tells the judge a lie, this causes both her and
John to end up imprisoned and in the long run is the evidence that
killed John.

The play is ended with the sun coming back through onto the people of
Salem, showing how after all of the executions, God has finally been
brought back into the town and the Devil has gone.

It was hard for the people of Salem to fit in work, God and have time
to themselves as well. Religion was obviously the main factor in their
lives, but work was starting to take over, as people were becoming
more greedy, power hungry, lazy and sick of religion on such a scale.
Their lifestyle was a very basic one, and didn't have too many good
points, but the Salem townsfolk show how people had started to do what
they wanted more, Proctor had an affair and Abi and the girls went
dancing in the woods. The religion was meant to be what people's lives
were revolved around and it mostly was, but it seemed that the more
power you had in the community the more of a religious front you would
have on. You could say that the people in Salem that were truly
religious stayed out of the witch trials and all the controversy that
surrounded them. Work came second to religion even though work was so
hard in this time. Land lust was a problem because in order to make
anything out of your land you needed as much of it as possible, this
led to many disputes between the people of Salem. You couldn't work on
a Sunday, this is a tradition that was still practiced until recently,
one of the characters that did work on a Sunday though was Proctor. It
is obvious that Proctor doesn't enjoy to "labour the earth from dawn
of day to blink of night", but it had to be done to make money to
support his family. Proctor didn't go to church because he didn't
agree with Parris' preaching methods and didn't like the way that the
sermons were about the badness of the Devil and not the goodness of
God. Therefore he spent his Sundays away from the church to try and
make the point that Parris' preaching technique wasn't at all what it
should have been. Unfortunately at this time there had been people
appointed to see who were working on the Sabbath and who wasn't in
church and Hale pointed out to Proctor when he spoke to him that he
hadn't been to church "twenty six time in seventeen month", judging
that each month there are at least four Sundays then this would mean
that out of seventeen months John Proctor had missed nearly seven
months worth of going to Church, not at all a good thing.

Overall it has been shown that religion might seem like it is the
integral part of Salem life but the people living there are really not
following the commandments. This ends up costing many innocent people
their lives and is very selfish. The idea of moving to Salem purely so
they could practice their religion freely seems ironic when all they
did when they got there was break the commandments, commit the deadly
sins and go completely against the words of the bible. Although there
are a small minority that are completely Christian and do the right
thing throughout the play it is clearly shown that the majority of the
townsfolk are selfish, and greedy. Unfortunately the people who were
completely innocent and who stuck to all of the commandments were the
ones who got picked upon as being a witch and therefore were killed.
But if looking for someone from outside the community to blame then
there would not be one, the only people that can be blamed are the
villagers themselves and the people of the court.
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