The Crucible Literal Vs Literary Essay Research

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The Crucible: Literal Vs. Literary Essay, Research Paper Arthur Miller?s famous drama The Crucible, a tale of how accusations and lies ruinously impact a whole community, is very aptly titled. By definition, a ?crucible? is ?a severe test,? and the challenges faced by Miller?s characters are many. The historical events dramatized in the play reflect how core human values, including truth, justice and love, are tested under life and death conditions. The trials of the characters and the values they hold dearly come when their simple, ordered world ceases to be black and white and easily deciphered, and is turned upside down in the gray shade of ambiguity. A major test in The Crucible is found in how the household of John Proctor responds in situations where hard choices must

be made between lies and honor or truth and shame. Early in the drama, it is revealed that Proctor has been unfaithful to his wife, Elizabeth, indulging in an extra-marital affair with a servant girl, Abigail. Suspecting the affair, Elizabeth dismisses Abigail amid rumor and innuendo, and Proctor confesses to his wife. The value of truth in their marriage is sorely tested when Elizabeth cannot find it within herself to forgive him. As the chain of events surrounding Abigail and the dancing girls in the forest leads to mounting self-protective lies about their activities, many women in the community, including Elizabeth, are accused of the practice of witchcraft. When the magistrate comes to arrest Elizabeth, the charges revolve around a doll made by servant girl Mary Warren and

Abigail?s claim that the doll is Elizabeth?s devilish instrument of torture. Mary Warren?s awakening to the truth about Abigail?s lies causes her to question her experiences and the oddly vaulted place she holds in the community as one of the bewitched. When Mary cannot withstand the pressure of the taunting girls in the face of her truth, she crumbles. Even though Proctor realizes that coming forth and confessing to his lechery with Abigail will bring shame and dire consequences upon himself and his family, he steps forward to save the reputation and life of his wife. Proctor calls upon the court to summon his wife to verify his faithlessness, swearing ?there are them that cannot sing and them that cannot weep—my wife cannot lie. I have paid much to learn it.? The irony of his

confession of adultery to save his bride comes full circle when she denies his adultery to save him. Ultimately, Proctor chooses to denounce the lie of ?doing the Devil?s work,? knowing that the choice of truth will mean his death. The value of justice in the ordered society of Salem is also put to the test. When Betty Parris, the daughter of the self-serving Reverend Parris, falls ill , ?the whole country?s talkin?witchcraft.? Parris, to save his tenuous position as minister of the flock, calls in an expert in expelling demons, the Reverend John Hale. Reverend Hale is an intellectual, full of desire to put to practice the tools he possesses that are ?weighted with authority.? As Reverend Hale responds to the pleas of parents to intervene on behalf of their daughters, the deceit

of Abigail and the dancing girls takes on a life of its own, resulting in the formation of a tribunal to judge the implicated witches. The reverend finds himself caught up in a system of justice where confessions of consorting with the Devil are rewarded with forgiveness and life, while denial of impurity and witchcraft are harshly punished with death. Repeatedly, he tries to assert the value of justice, protesting that Elizabeth Proctor is unjustly arrested and advocating that her husband be allowed a lawyer. ?I may shut my conscience to it no more,? he cries as the court turns their focus on Proctor, and eventually he leaves the court in the name of justice. The test of Reverend Hale?s sense of justice later takes an ironic turn, when he returns to minister to the condemned. As