The Crucible

The Crucible There are several similarities and differences between the 1996 movie The Crucible and the truth about what happened in the Salem Witch Trials.

Even though there were differences between the movie The Crucible and the actual Salem Witch Trials, the movie summarized the trials very well. Ever since Increase Mather and thirteen or fourteen other pastors signed what was called the Cases of Conscience document, the village of Salem was in major controversy. The farms around there hadnt been farmed in months and the village wasnt looking good. Some of the Puritans blamed this on the witches (A Village Possessed).

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It was late one night when two girls by the names of Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams went out into the woods to a camp fire where they found a dozen other girls their age in a circle led by a person named Tituba (The Crucible). Every girl was acting a little strange, but Elizabeth and Abigail were acting a little stranger. Right when things got out of hand, the girls were discovered by Rev. Samuel Parris, pastor of Salem Village and father of Elizabeth Parris. All of the girls scattered and so did Tituba.The true side of the story is that the two girls had made a homemade crystal ball and dropped the white of an egg over it trying to see if they had any visions. Like a lot of the other girls in the village, Abigail and Elizabeth were trying to see into the future to learn who their husbands would be and to see what their husbands would do for a living.

The girls went ahead and did this even though they knew that playing with the occult practice of fortune telling was forbidden. The girls knew that tampering with the business of God could “open the door to Satan (Rice Jr.).” It was just a coincidence that something went very wrong that day. The two girls went to bed that night, but didnt awake the next morning.

They just lied motionless in bed like they were in a coma. The girls just lied motionless in bed for days (The Crucible). In the actual trials the girls saw a coffin in their crystal ball instead of their husbands. Soon after, the two girls started having “fits.” Their legs and arms flew around their heads while they were shouting a strange different language. This behavior did not stay with just the two girls; it spread to at least eight other girls.The doctors of Salem Village could not give any help; prayer did not even help.

The Puritans were convinced that this was the work of the devil and the girls were bewitched (MaGill). But who had bewitched the girls? The girls that were bewitched began to point their fingers. The first accusation went towards the very strange Tituba. Tituba was a Caribbean Slave (Linder).Sarah Good, a beggar, was another to be accused, and so was Sarah Osborne, an old hermit. The girls would say that they had dreams about these people coming to them telling them to do harm or worship Satan. The accusations continued until the jails were overflowing.

The way they would detect the witches is to ask for a confession. If the accused people would admit to doing it, they would live (The Crucible).If they denied it, they would be executed. Some say that they would detect the witches by a small mark on the back of their necks. If the accused person had this small mark, they were a witch (Gragg).

After too many people in jail, the trials began. Normally the girls of the village were seen but not heard from, but on the day of the trials the “afflicted girls” were getting into holes, crawling under chairs, and bending their bodies into weird shapes.As the trials began, Sarah Good, Tituba, and Sarah Osborne waited in jail. Every day a new group of accused people joined them. People of every trade and every characteristic. Every one was in terror that their neighbors would be witches, or even if someone in their house were a witch (A Village Possessed). The movie explained these happenings in the same way.In March of 1692, Rebecca Nurse was one to be accused.

In the meetinghouse, Rebecca stood before the magistrate, John Hawthorne. Rebecca, a seventy-one-year-old church member, the mother of a large family sons, daughters, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. If Rebecca could be accused of witchcraft, no one was safe in Salem Village. The jury found Rebecca Nurse guilty of witchcraft. She was hanged on July 19, 1692, on what is now called Gallows Hill. Four other people who were convicted of witchcraft were hung along side of Rebecca.

Like the others that would be hanged for months later, the five bodies were cut down and dumped into rocks at the side of the hill (Rice). Nearly twenty-five people died. Sarah Good was hanged on Gallows Hill with the others, and Sarah Osborne died in prison. In September Martha Cory was hanged. Her husband Giles was crushed to death from rocks placed on his body to get him to confess. Several hundred had been accused, and nearly 150 stayed chained to the prison walls.In October, Rev. Increase Mather, who still believed in witchcraft, questioned the evidence used in the Salem Witch Trials.

He questioned the evidence with his Cases of Conscience. Like in most criminal cases, Mather argued from the print, “the evidence..ought to be as clear as in any other crimes of a capital nature” (A Village Possessed). But how could a person catch a witch when witchcraft was supernatural? The crime was not the damage caused, it was the act of making a pact with the devil, which no one actually witnessed. Mather claimed that there was not any substantial evidence to hold the witches. Finally Massachusettss governor William Phips stood up and said there could be no further imprisonments or executions.

Most of the people who were accused were freed, and the ones who were convicted were pardoned. One of the strangest things to me was that one of the first to be accused, and who confessed, Tituba, was set free. Years after 1692 the people of Salem Village got on with their lives. Elizabeth Parris got married, and so did Mary Wolcott. Both girls, Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams, left Salem Village.

No one ever knew what happened to Abigail. It was said that she never regained her sanity and was “followed with diabolical molestation to her death (Rice). Ann Putnam never remarried, and at twenty-six made a confession for her false accusations, but claimed she was still influenced by the devil.

John Hawthorne got his credit when he was the inspiration for the greedy Judge Pyncheon in The House of Seven Gablec. A family member, Nathaniel Hawthorne, wrote the novel one hundred years after Johns death (A Village Possessed). The cause of this all was because of a childish game played by some young girls. I think the girls were influenced by Tituba and had no control over their actions.Even though many innocent people died, the blame is to be put on Tituba.

Bibliography n/a.

The Crucible

The Crucible The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller that was first produced in 1953, is based on the true story of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Miller wrote the play to parallel the situations in the mid-twentieth century. Some characters in the play have specific agendas carried out by their accusations, and the fact that the play is based on historical truth makes it even more intriguing. The characters in this play are simple, common people.

The accused are charged and convicted of a crime that is impossible to prove. The following witchcraft hysteria takes place in one of America’s wholesome towns, which makes the miscarriage of justice such a mystery even today. The reasons the villains select the people they do for condemnation are both simple and clear. All of the accusers have ulterior motives, such as revenge, greed, and covering up their own behavior.Many of the accusers have meddled in witchcraft themselves, and are therefore doubly to be distrusted.

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The court convicts the victims on the most absurd testimony, and the reader has to wonder how the judges and the townspeople could let such a charade continue. The leading character of the play is John Proctor, a man who often serves as the only voice of reason in the play. He had an affair with Abigail Williams, who later charges his wife with witchcraft. Proctor is seemingly the only person who can see through the children’s accusations.

The reader sees him as one of the more modern figures in the trials because he is hardheaded, skeptical, and a voice of common sense. He thinks the girls can be cured of their spells with a good whipping. At the end of the play, Proctor has to make a choice. He can either confess to a crime he is innocent of to save himself from execution, or die proclaiming his innocence. He ends up choosing death because a false confession would mean implicating other accused people, including Rebecca Nurse.Proctor feels she is good and pure, unlike his adulterous self, and does not want to tarnish her good name and the names of his other innocent friends by implicating them.

By choosing death, Proctor takes the high road and becomes a true tragic hero. The reader feels that his punishment is unjust (especially since the crime of witchcraft is imagined and unprovable.) Because the trials take place in a Christian, American town, the reader must then wonder if anything like this could happen in his or her own time. This is particularly true of people who saw the play when it first came out, in the era of McCarthyism. Ann and Thomas Putnam are two instigators of the witchcraft hysteria in the play.Ann Putnam is the one who first plants the idea that Betty is bewitched. Her motivation for lying is obvious; she needs to cover up her own behavior.

After all, she had sent her daughter to Tituba to conjure up the dead in order to find out what happened to her dead babies. She can’t have it said that she, a Christian woman, practices the pagan art with a slave from Barbados, or that her daughter’s illness is her fault because she sent her to participate in the black art, so she blames others. Revenge is another motive of hers. Tituba’s tricks led her to the conclusion that her babies were murdered while under the care of a midwife, Goody Osburn.

Osburn is later accused of witchcraft. Ann Putnam’s husband also influences her. Thomas Putman had nominated his wife’s brother-in-law, James Bayley, to be the minister of Salem. He was qualified and the people voted him in, but a faction stopped his acceptance. Thomas Putnam felt superior to most people in the village, and was angry that they rejected his choice for minister. He was also involved in a land dispute with Francis Nurse, whose wife Rebecca is accused of witchcraft.This is detailed in the movie Three Sovereigns for Sarah, which shows basically the same story as the play. Many people died because of Thomas Putnam’s land hunger.

The Putnams, driven by their need for revenge and their greed, contributed to the huge travesty of justice that was the Salem Witch Trails. The motive of Abigail Williams is equally easy to decipher. Abigail is the ringleader of the group of girls who testify in court against those accused of witchcraft.She and John Proctor had an affair previously, when she worked as a servant in his home, and she obviously does not want it to be over. She says to him, I know how you clutched my back behind your house and sweated like a stallion whenever I come near! Or did I dream that? It’s she [Elizabeth] that put me out, you cannot pretend it were you.

I saw your face when she put me out, and you loved me then and you do now! Elizabeth, Proctor’s wife, had fired Abigail as their servant because she suspected the affair. Clearly, Abigail despises her. She tells Proctor, She is blackening my name in the village! She is telling lies about me! She is a cold, sniveling woman, and you bend to her! Abigail is obviously furious with Elizabeth because she feels Elizabeth has cut off her relationship with John and soiled her reputation in the village. Abigail uses the witchcraft mess to get back at Elizabeth.Of course, Elizabeth Proctor is charged with witchcraft.

In 1692, the real historical Abigail Williams was about eleven years old. Why, then, does Arthur Miller decide to make her a young woman of eighteen or nineteen for this play? He does this in order to invent an adulterous relationship between Abigail and John Proctor. This relationship motivates her denunciation of John and Elizabeth Proctor. This offers an easily theatrical motive for one of his characters. It also makes Abigail seem like a cold, calculated adult.This is more like an element of twentieth century entertainment than of a theocracy in 1692, but Miller has to appeal to his audience to make the play popular in 1953. The rest of the girls in the play, including Susanna Walcott, Mercy Lewis, Mary Warren, and Betty Parris, are all covering up for their own actions. Abigail herself admits that they were dancing in the woods, and Parris says they were naked.

The girls had been asking the slave, Tituba, to conjure spells, and Parris finds out about it. He says, And what shall I say to them? That my daughter and my niece I discovered dancing like heathen in the forest? And then, My own household is discovered to be the very center of some obscene practice.Abominations are done in the forest– The children know that they are going to be punished for their behavior, and they make up the stories that they were bewitched to place the blame elsewhere. When greedy people like the Putnams start encouraging them, it becomes easier to lie and they begin to enjoy all the attention and power they hold.

They are probably also afraid of Abigail. After a while, she makes it impossible for the other girls to retract their accusations. When Mary Warren tries to tell the truth, Abigail accuses her of witchcraft, too. The girls find themselves stuck in a trap of their own making, and in the witchcraft game until the end.Reverend Samuel Parris allows the witchcraft hysteria to go on because it helps him. At the beginning of the play he asks Abigail, Do you understand that I have many enemies? There is a faction that is sworn to drive me from my pulpit. Do you understand that? Everyone in the town did not receive Parris well, and he feels like he has fought here three long years to bend these stiff-necked people to him.

The witchcraft charade unites the people of the town to him. In this time of spiritual crisis, they look to their minister for guidance and support.Parris is now getting the following he never had before. It is for this selfish reason that he allows the witch hunt to continue, even though he knows it is not valid. The characters in The Crucible are interesting and easy to read. The victims of the witch trails are innocent, spiritual people who are wronged because of their accusers’ greed, vengefulness, and need to cover up for their own actions. The deep involvement of the accusers, especially Abigail, and the lengths they will go to in order to continue their charade make the play absorbing and haunting.


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