The Crucible

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade October 2001

download word file, 4 pages 0.0

Downloaded 336 times

Topic: But a theme is not an idea; it is an action, an unstoppable process, like a fetus growing or, yes, a cancer; it is a destroyer as it changes and creates or kills, a paradox that nothing can keep from unwinding through all of it contradictions down to its resolution, which in its time illuminates the whole from the beginning.

(Arthur Miller in his autobiography, TIMEBENDS) A theme of a play or a novel is not just an idea. According to Arthur Miller's definition, a theme "is an action, and unstoppable process, like a fetus growing or, yes, a cancer; it is a destroyer as it changes and creates or kills, a paradox that nothing can keep from unwinding through all of it contradictions down to its resolution, which in its time illuminates the whole from the beginning." During the course of "The Crucible," Arthur Miller toys with the idea of whom, men or women, control faith and fate.

Throughout this play, Miller alludes to the fact that the men only think that they are in control, when in fact the women are in control. Man's perception of control comes from their interpretation of God's word. But, once God's work is changed into man's word, it is no longer what God meant it to be, rather it exists as what men desire to be God's word.

"The Crucible" touches upon many points that discuss the relationships men have with women and God. The society in the play is a complete patriarchal society, where men dominate and women have no say in anything. When the Parris's daughter initially becomes ill, the first thing Parris does is call a doctor. This doctor is not only well practiced in the theories of medicine; he also practices religious medicine and exorcism. Of course the "˜good' doctor, a male, through all of his medical and spiritual books containing knowledge of all of the spirits in existence. All the information in these books are derived in one way or another from God and the bible. The bible does mention different spirits but it is the doctor's interpretation of those words that influence his decision as to what the girl's sickness is. The fact that the girl really was not sick, also proves that although there really is no cure for a sickness that does not exist, the doctor manipulates that situation so that he looks like the good guy and that his interpretation of God's work will lead him to the answer. "He bid me come and tell you"¦he cannot discover no medicine for it in his books"¦ he bid me tell you , that you might look to unnatural things for it."(9) Once the doctor finds no practical reason for the illness, he manipulates God's words from the Bible to imply that the sickness is supernatural. He cannot admit to not knowing the answer because he is a man, and men desire to be the most powerful. In order to be powerful, one must have all the answers, which is precisely what the doctor is doing.

Later on in the play, once everyone has already been convicted of witchcraft, a battle goes on between the morality of the people and their belief in God and justice in a court of law. All the men are fighting, they all must prove themselves right. Although no witchcraft exists, the letter of the law says that there are witnesses to the crime, and therefore the accused must be tried. Throughout the prosecution, John Proctor breaks through his stereotypical male way of thinking and admits to being wrong. He realizes that all this fighting is only going on to send the other men on a power trip. Throughout the trials, he and Parris bicker endlessly. While prosecuting Proctor, Parris mentions Excerpts from the Bible to manipulate the court into believing that he has God's power in his hands. Seeing as he is the religious leader, he manipulates God's words to befit him so that he can prove that he is right and in control. In an argument with Proctor, Parris states, ""¦you should surely know that Cain were an upright man, and yet he did kill Abel."(91) In response, Proctor, realizes that Parris is using God as an excuse to justify his behavior and answers him, " Aye, God tells us that. But who tells us Rebecca Nurse murdered seven babies by sending out her spirit on them?"(91) Proctor proves to the court how Parris is using God only to give explanation for why he is doing something immoral, and that his immorality only comes from his greed and selfishness to be on a higher step in the social ladder.

Many men in the time of the Puritans, because it was a patriarchal society, did whatever they could in order to be higher in society. Many people, especially religious leaders, manipulated the words of the Bible to benefit their own needs. But, once they change around the meaning of God's words to justify their battle for power, the words are no longer what God intended them to be. Therefore, all men that manipulated the words of God are actually heretics and contain a lot of hubris. All they want is to be as powerful and in control as God. So they re-write the Bible as they see fit. That way, they have the power to control the people around them as to how they see fit, giving them the power they want over others.