Period 4

Period 4 9/11/00 Puritan Hell vs. Indian Hell In the story ” The History of the Dividing Line,” the character Bearskin presents a view of Hell that contradicts the views of Edwards in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Bearskins perception of Hell is a cold, barren place that, although completely undesirable, can be avoided and even escaped from. But in Edwards eyes, Hell is a pit of molten brimstone that is un-escapable and almost everyone is certain to dwell there for eternity. The version of Hell in “The History of the Dividing Line” can be perceived as the more hopeful of the two stories. In the Indians story, Hell is a dreadful place, yet can be avoided by one who believes and trusts in God.

He describes God, ” that God is very just and very good, ever well pleased with those men who possess god-like qualities” (53). Bearskin shows that if Gods wills are not taken lightly, and if people act as he wants, then they will be taken care of and given eternal peace and joy. But if one defies God and does not obey his word, they will be forsaken by Him. If someone does not obey the will of God, they will be taken to Hell, where ” All such as tell lies and cheat those that have dwellings with he never fails to punish with sickness, poverty, hunger, and a place in Hell” (53). Although Bearskin describes Hell as a horrible place to live, one still contains the power to be redeemed from it once there, or even avoid it altogether. In contrast, the vision of Hell in ” Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” is absolutely horrifying.

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Edwards creates a disturbing image of Hell, describing it as “..that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is a dreadful pit of of the glowing flames of the wrath of God..” (80) This portrayal of Hell differs from Bearskins in that Bearskins is eternal winter, “leading to a dark and barren country, where it always winter”(54), cold and barren, while Edwards explains it as a large pit of burning brimstone and molten lava. The two resting places of the damned also differ in the fact that Edwards believes that almost everyone is going to Hell, and no one can escape it, unless they are one of the elect (which he conveniently is). And once one enters Hell, there is no escape, only eternal torture. As Edwards portrays, “..nothing but His pure pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction” (81), God has no obligation to keep humans alive, that everyone should pray for the mercy people receive from God.

Edwards version of Hell is much harsher than that of Bearskins, and Bearskins also happens to be more uplifting. Therefore, both stories differ in the sense of Hell that they project towards the reader. Bearskin wishes, or so it seems, to give the reader hope in the afterlife, that even if the person can not avoid Hell, it is still possible to escape it eventually. But Edwards wishes to completely destroy the human spirit with his version, driving fear into the heart of the human race. Although the two stories differ greatly, they both accurately portray the difference in the religion of the two different civilizations.

Period 4

November 3, 1997
Mr. Ruppel
Millers McCarthynistic Idea
The play was inspired by Millers belief that the hysteria surrounding the witchcraft trials paralleled the contemporary political climate of McCarthysim. McCarthysim is Senator Joseph McCarthys obsessive quest to uncover a communist infiltration of American institutions. Communism is a theory of social change advocating a classless society. In a classless society there is chaos. In the following we will discuss how Millers political views and experiences effected his position on gender and class in the crucible.
In a communist society, the male gender is always dominant. Women arent allowed to vote or hold political office. All they do is stay home while the man of the house works, and tends to the household chores. In the play, all the women are housewives but some worked harder than others did. For example, Mrs. Proctor a common house wife says Pray God. It hurt my heart to skin her, poor rabbit. She gone out in the woods all by herself to catch dinner. The man of the house expects dinner on the table when they get home. This is an example of a common communistic society.
Through out the whole play, women are being accused of witchcraft. A man could have never been accused of witchcraft in those days. Men were the dominant gender. Tituba is a black servant who was spotted in the woods supposedly practicing witchcraft. She is blamed for the crime, probably because she is a servant of the lower class. But as the play goes on, a more classless society comes into effect. That is when the women of the upper class get blamed for the crime.
At the time of the play, women were afraid to accuse men of any sore of crime. Reverend Hale is the man sent to Salem to investigate the crime.When he asks Tituba if she saw anyone with the devil she says Man or woman. Was- was a women. She didnt know who it was, but most definitely it was a women. Being a servant in 1692, she knows that man couldnt be accused of witchcraft. She really didnt see the person with the devil because it was dark. So she just assumed that it was a women because a man would have never been seen with the devil. If she had said that she saw a man with the devil, no one would have believed her.
The witchcraft trials cause great chaos in Salem. Amongst them selves women were being treated equal because of the lack of social classes. Tituba (a servant) was being treated that same as Mrs. Proctor (the wife of a town figure). The authorities were ready to jail anyone, no matter who they were. For example, Cheever is a deputy who was assigned to arrest people for whom he had warrants. He went to The Proctors house to arrest Mrs. Proctor for having a Voodoo doll with a needle stuck in it. The night before, Abby had felt a pain in her side, just like a needle. Little did Cheever know, the doll wasnt Mrs. Proctors, it was her servants. When her servant confessed to ownership of the doll, Cheever still arrested Mrs. Proctor.
In the Crucible, the male gender is treated more sympathetically. The prejudice towards the female gender reflects Millers political and personal views. This parallels his McCarthynistic idea. Through out the play we see this idea that at the time of the witchcraft trials Salem turned into a communistic society. Which in fact caused chaos where it wasnt needed.

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