Relating the themes of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" to present-day society---Title: American Cultural Puritanism and 'The Crucible'

Essay by JellyBelly024High School, 11th grade March 2003

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"American Cultural Puritanism and The Crucible"

In Arthur Miller's The Crucible, the playwright creates a scene based on the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, yet the themes that the play conveys are still embedded in modern society. John Proctor, the protagonist, is condemned for speaking out against the Puritan leaders, indicating a theme of individual versus society. However, the play as a whole depicts a time of political manipulation, when the society's leaders expected all of the townspeople to follow the majority's beliefs, condemning those who thought otherwise. These themes can be applied to both events occurring in modern society and the actions at the time the play was written, 1953.

Before these themes can be applied, one must understand the general plot of The Crucible as well as the way it is carried out as a drama. The moral struggles of John Proctor are presented throughout the play, with the biggest one regarding his decision to either speak out against the majority and face the risk of being killed, or keep quiet and watch other innocent people be condemned.

Proctor eventually tells the reverend and the judge, among other officials, what he believes the girls, such as Abigail Williams, are doing. He presents them with facts and evidence, explaining a scheme the girls are carrying out against him, yet the leaders do not listen to him. Instead, they sentence him to death for rebelling against the society, calling him a witch.

While the main theme of Miller's play interprets this time of political unrest, several smaller themes are also emphasized. The author implies that society cannot settle for just arresting and punishing criminals when they call attention to themselves. Instead, there is an occasional "witch hunt" where people are sought out and punished when they...