The Crucible

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The Crucible

Lauren Seaman
9/25/00
Period E
The Truth Comes Out
In the play, The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, Americans face pressure to conform in the town of Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. The witch trials bring about the hidden truths about the citizens of Salem, and in fact are not really about witchcraft. Everyone has their enemies, and the witch trials provide an outlet for the expression of the hostilities people have. In Salem, if a citizen suspects and accuses someone of something, that suspicious person is quickly thought of as guilty. Not much evidence is needed to prove someone guilty to the judges Danforth and Hathorne. Preserving the appearance of justice rather than performing actual justice is what the judges are interested in. Not only the judges but every high authority seems more interested in maintaining their reputation rather than doing the right thing. The witch trials are not really about witchcraft but instead about long-held grudges and self-confidence problems that Salemites have and the Salemites just use the trials as an opportunity to avenge their enemies from past grudges and gain and maintain power.
When Elizabeth Proctor finds out that her husband, John, is having an affair with their mischievous servant, Abigail, Elizabeth fires her. Out of jealousy, Abigail hates the well respected because she wishes she could be in Elizabeth’s place since she is still in love with John. Abigail’s first attempt of killing Elizabeth fails, which was convincing Tituba to concoct a charm. When the witch trials go on, Abigail sees another chance of getting Elizabeth out of the picture. In court one day, Abigail notices Mary Warren making a doll for Elizabeth. Abigail conceives the idea of sticking a needle in the doll, then sticking a needle in herself, and telling everyone she sees Elizabeth Proctor with the devil, so Elizabeth will be framed as performing witchcraft on Abigail. Her plan is successful because Cheever finds the doll with the needle in it at Elizabeth’s house, and Elizabeth gets arrested. Elizabeth easily figures out what happened, but has no way of proving herself. When Elizabeth and John are arguing about Abigail’s motives to framing Elizabeth, Elizabeth says
“Spoke or silent, a promise is surely made. And she may dote on it now- I am sure she does- and thinks to kill me, then to take my place… It is her dearest hope, John, I know it. There be a thousand names; why does she call mine?…She’d dare not call out such a farmer’s wife but there be a monstrous profit in it. She thinks to take my place, John” (Act II, 61).
Elizabeth sees exactly what Abigail’s intention is, and tries to explain it to her husband, who knows she’s right, but cannot admit it. It seems then that the witch trials are the perfect opening for people to get revenge on their enemies.
Thomas Putnam has many grudges against Francis Nurse: one grudge about their acrid land dispute between Nurse and one of Putnam’s relatives, and the other grudge is about how Francis Nurse prevented Putnam’s brother-in-law from being elected minister of Salem. As a result of these disputes, Putnam has a deep hatred for Francis Nurse. Ann Putnam’s babies have all died within a day of their birth, except for their only surviving child, Ruth. They do not know why, but they want an answer. Ann Putnam goes as far as asking Tituba to conjure the dead children’s spirits so they could tell Tituba who murdered them. However, Tituba does not get an answer, but Mrs. Putnam is still dissatisfied. She needs someone to blame. Acknowledging the fact that her husband hates Francis Nurse, she eventually blames Nurse’s wife, Rebecca. When Nurse and Giles come running into the Proctor household, they tell them how Cheever took both of their wives to jail. Francis Nurse says,
“My wife is the very brick and mortar of the church, Mr. Hale.” Then Hale asks what Rebecca is charged with, and Nurse replies, “For murder, she’s charged. ‘For the marvelous and supernatural murder of Goody Putnam’s babies.’ What am I to do, Mr. Hale?” (Act II, 71).
The Putnam’s finally get their vengeance on the Nurse’s since Rebecca Nurse is accused and hanged,

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