Reputationon The Crucible Essay Example
Reputationon The Crucible Essay Example

Reputationon The Crucible Essay Example

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The Crucible, set in a post-World War II prosperous America, was written in 1952.

Despite this, concerns and anxieties arose in the United States towards the enemy, particularly regarding communism. American citizens were worried about their former allies, the Russians, and uneasy about their embrace of communist principles. Americans strongly associated themselves with democracy and remained devoted to their democratic government and way of life, seeing communism as a real threat to their survival. Consequently, two superpowers emerged, ultimately resulting in what is now referred to as the "Cold War".

During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a conflict, with western countries aligning against those in the east. In the US, an intense fear known as the "Red Scare" arose, fueled by widespread belief that there were communist infiltrators seeking to overthrow the government from within. Senat


or Joseph Raymond McCarthy led McCarthyism, which amplified this fear. He claimed to possess a roster of 205 individuals accused of being communists, including government officials and servicemen. However, these accusations often relied on baseless rumors or incomplete investigations into communist activities. Consequently, many innocent people found themselves facing trials and suffering fines or imprisonment due to circumstances beyond their control.

After confessing to alleged crimes, the following task was to implicate and accuse others - regardless of their guilt. Refusing to confess would result in losing one's job, friends, and enduring public humiliation. Conversely, confessing led to complete destruction. In a similar vein to 1950s America where the assumption was that communists existed, the residents of Salem in The Crucible genuinely believed that the devil was present. The townspeople firmly believed that Lucifer prowle

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the streets of Salem, intent on annihilating both the town and the church.

Reverend Parris expressed concern to a group of people surrounding his sick daughter Betty. He mentioned that there was a widespread belief in the parish that the Devil may be present among them. This belief seemed to serve as a way for the community to find someone to blame for their personal problems, such as the deaths of Mr. Putman's children and Parris' daughter's coma.

When Reverend John Hale from Beverly arrived in Salem, it further confirmed the existence of witches and the Devil. He brought with him books on witch hunting and identification, indicating his belief in the presence of the Devil and his knowledge on how to identify him.

The townsfolk of Salem were deeply afraid of the devil and believed in his existence. In Act 1, Tituba, who served as Parris' maid, confessed to working for the devil. She was terrified of him and concerned about the consequences of her actions. Tituba pleaded with Parris not to hang her, saying "no, no, don't hang Tituba! I tell him I don't desire to work for him." This demonstrates her fear of what might happen if she refused to obey the devil. Simultaneously, she also feared potential repercussions if she did not admit her guilt - he threatened to publicly hang her. Ultimately, in order to avoid this fate, Tituba made the decision to confess and seek forgiveness from God.

Both Tituba and Parris shared a common fear of the devil. Parris openly expressed his apprehension about the devil's presence in his household. He pondered why the devil would single out his home when there

were other villagers who engaged in questionable behavior. Being a clergyman, he worried about the harm the devil could inflict upon his daughter and even on God himself. Moreover, Parris was concerned that having the devil in his residence would tarnish his reputation as a highly regarded member of their community.

The fear of the devil created division and was not the sole factor causing social divides in Salem. Distrust was also widespread within the community. The relationship between John Proctor and his wife Elizabeth exemplifies this well. Their bond was based on distrust, resentment, and bitterness, primarily due to John's affair with Abigail Williams. Their conversations in Act 2 are characterized by intense mistrust and appear to be solely aimed at reducing tension.

Another example of distrust, particularly related to rumors of witchcraft, occurred with Giles Corey and his wife Martha. When Reverend Hale arrived in town, Giles seized the opportunity to inquire, "What does reading strange books signify?," referring to the mysterious books his wife was reading from. He believed that her involvement with these books was the reason he had stopped praying. These slight hints and suspicions of the abnormal caught the attention of the small town of Salem, leading to the establishment of an official court to try those suspected of witchcraft. The court was led by Deputy-Governor Danforth, a powerful judge from Boston. Given the prominence of this court, it was crucial for it to be successful in prosecuting as many alleged devil worshippers as possible, in order to prove its legitimacy and effectiveness. Many unfounded and unnecessary accusations were made against individuals, initially targeting lower-class members of Salem society such as

housemaids and slaves.

At first, the accusations escalated to a higher social level when Elizabeth Proctor, among others, was accused of being a witch and subsequently arrested by Marshall Herrick. Abigail Williams framed her by pretending to be stabbed and planting a needle in the stomach of a doll (known as a poppet) that was made in court by Mary Lewis, one of Elizabeth's housemaids. This specific accusation exemplifies how individuals used witchcraft as an excuse for personal problems; in this case, Abigail desired John Proctor for herself and attempted to incriminate his wife. These accusations were largely unsupported by evidence. When John Proctor forcefully inquired to Marshall Herrick, "What is the significance of a poppet?" he received no satisfactory response.

The Salem court operated on the assumption of guilt before innocence and asked questions intended to make defendants appear guilty no matter their response. Confessing meant survival, while denying resulted in punishment and destruction. The court then proceeded to identify others, similar to the 1950s American courts. The people of Salem realized this was an opportunity to shift blame, particularly for the girls who had been involved in woodland dancing. They provided a lengthy list of individuals they claimed to have seen consorting with the devil.

It was surprising to Danforth that John Proctor did not provide any names of those he had witnessed (or not witnessed) associating with the devil, as it was expected for the accused to do so. Proctor also declined to sign his name as someone who had confessed, despite accepting his confession. He firmly declared, "It is my name. I have given you my soul; leave me my name." There are numerous

similarities that can be drawn between the Salem Witch Trials and the McCarthy Witch Hunts in terms of how the courts functioned and the societal aspects during both periods.

The main common factor between the Salem Witch Trials and the McCarthy Witch Hunts was the belief that there was an enemy intent on destroying the community. These historical events teach us valuable lessons about the consequences of living in a harsh environment filled with rumors, deception, and false accusations. Despite The Crucible's age, it addresses many still-relevant issues in today's world.

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