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Literary Analysis of “The Crucible”

Jealousy. The corruption of Puritans. The anonymity and manipulation of mass hysteria. These themes influence the thoughts and actions of many characters in the “The Crucible” and result in the condemnation of the innocent and morally just. While the majority of the accusers are Puritans who “claim” they follow God, their actions are led by their jealousy and their yearning for high social stature. Although John Proctor is portrayed as an adulterer and a satanist, he is one of the only ones to try and save the lives of the innocent condemnees; he is fueled by his virtue and newfound love for Elizabeth.

By displaying acts of jealousy and their effect on the people of Salem through Abigail, Miller not only discredits Abigail as a follower of God, but uncovers the corruption layered beneath the Puritans’ faith. In the first act of the Crucible, Arthur Miller puts on display Abigail’s lust for John and her desperateness to remove Elizabeth from her most elaborate love equation, Abigail stating “I know how you clutched my back behind your house and sweated like a stallion whenever I come near! Or did I dream that? It’s she put me out, you cannot pretend it were you. I saw your face when she put me out, and you loved me then and you do now!”. From Abigail’s selfishness, readers can see beneath the “purity” of the people of Salem and glimpse the corruption that allowed the birth and permeation of witchcraft.

Similarly, corruption can be found by the analysis of Puritan motives; more specifically, the motives of Mary Warren. In Act III, in the midst of a climactic turnpoint, Miller displays the Puritan necessity of high social stature. Proctor states “Mary, tell the Governor what they – “Don’t touch me – don’t touch me! At which the girls halt at the door. Proctor, astonished: Mary! Mary Warren, pointing at Proctor: You’re the Devil’s man!” Through these events, Miller casts away the mask of Puritan faith to show the true motives of Puritan condemners in “The Crucible”.

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Even though many of the Puritans of Salem hide their corrupt motives behind their “Puritan faith”, Miller show glimpses of purity through John Proctor and his attempts to save his town. Despite the attempts of Reverend Parris to discredit Proctor as a satanist, his true motives of virtue and love are shown through his attempts to save the wrongly condemned. In Act III, integrity of John can be seen when he attempted to use Mary to prove that Abigail and her followers are deceitful and conniving. Although the corrupted souls of Salem were given hardship, ultimately, they achieved their goal of desecrating and hanging the pure.

Regardless of the fact that Miller displays the abolition of “witchcraft” by the Puritan people, the true corruption resides within the condemners who eliminated a great part of their own flesh and blood without questioning the sanity of their own decisions. In spite of John’s purity and virtue, the immoral and twisted motives of the Puritan condemners ultimately allowed the permeation of witchcraft in Salem and resulted in the deaths of those who refused to enervate and  submit to corruption.

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