Themes of The Crucible While reading The Crucible, two strong themes are guilt and hypocrisy. This play by Authur Miller takes place in during the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts. The people involved were called Puritans. they had very strong beliefs such as "predestination", and intolerance. When the trials began to come about, it caused great havoc in the small, puritan community. Although this play seemed to be such a serious series of events, after reading it one will soon notice that it is almost crossing a fine line of mockery.
The themes that showed these traits pretty well were guilt and hypocrisy, which when looked at deeper bring out the extent of insanity throughout the play. These themes will begin to show how obvious and absurd the true motives actually are. The first theme, which is guilt, is initially shown very subtly but then towards the end of the play, gets to an extreme. Mr. Hale is the first character we really notice effected by this. During act three, he begins to feel personally responsible for the people he condemned to hang, as they begin to look innocent.
He exclaims, "I have signed 72 death warrants, I am a minister of the lord…" (Miller, 1301). For the first time in the play, one of the characters actually says something to show their doubt, when everyone else is just constantly thinking and wondering if it could be true or not. Another character that show his guilt in this act is Danforth. He is the judge who have tried all of the suspects, and sentenced the majority of them to death. After two of the girls that were the basis for everyone's conviction skip town, Danforth begins to show his skepticism, but can not react. e understands clearly not that there is a strong possibility that the girls were lying, but still refuses to change his decision. After sentencing possibly innocent people to hang, his guilt can not empower him to do things to attempt to justify his previous actions. When Reverend Parris tries to postpone the rest of the hangings, Danforth tells him, "There will be no postponement" (miller, 128). Although one might take this as confidence in his past judgments, he really does this because he feels there is no other option after killing innocent people.
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The next theme there are some very interesting qualities to is hypocrisy. This theme also ranges from subtle to extreme throughout the play, but hypocrisy is shown a little differently. One example involves the general group of puritans as a whole, and their beliefs. It is made clear that they think its only right for a child to speak when spoken to, but during the entire play the puritans seems to hang on a group of children's words. they are not only listening to them, but killing innocent adults in result of it.
During act II, one of the characters says, "The voice of heaven is speaking through the children. " (Miller, 1294) This sentence clearly states that what the children are telling them are extremely important, must be heard, and must be believed. Another character who shows hypocrisy throughout the play is Parris. He originally acts authoritative and powerful as he tries to pursued the court toward witch craft. Eventually he becomes weak and begs the court to reconsider for his own greed and name.
Early in the play, Parris says to Dantforth, "He's come to over throw the court, your honor! " (Miller, 92), referring to Proctor when he brings a deposition to free innocent people. At the end of act three, the same man, Parris, goes back to the court and tells them, "Tonight, when i open my door to leave my house - a dagger clattered to the ground. you cannot hang this sort. there is danger for me…"(miller, 128). This statement shows how Parris now is trying to protect himself, and needs to try to justify the previous decisions.
For a more general example of hypocrisy, there is one that involves the entire plot of the play. The goals of the puritans are to keep their community together, but now after dragging out the trials, the have ripped Salem apart. After reading this play, it is clearly evident that there are always underlying motives to peoples' actions. this is shown not only through these examples but the entire dialog. This book was very interesting, and really held my interest compared to other pieces of literature previously read in english classes.
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