n what ways can the audience see that the `The Crucible`, by Arthur Miller, is a play which is essentially concerned with the spiritual development of the central character John Proctor Crucible – ‘a pot in which base metals are melted down in order to purify them separating out base elements’, this is how Arthur Miller was inspired to write the play about the Salem witch trials. The play shows people in Salem and how the jealousy turns out to be inferior, in other words how the witch craft trials started and how it got worse.
1692 was the year of the witch trials and many lives, or should I say innocent lives were lost based on accusations made by a small number of silly teenage girls; the ring leader of these so call girls was Abigail Williams. The Salem witch trials tried to distinguish the good from the evil. If you were suspected of witchcraft, then immediate action would take place, first arrested and then questioned. Any evidence that was used, usually intangible -was then word of mouth. If you were found guilty then you were hung.
Also the play is comparable to McCarthyism in 1950, where exactly the same type of trials were taking place but to identify communism taking place, just like the witch trials you were taken for questioning and even in the 20th century word of mouth was taken as evidence. Therefore if you were guilty then you were banished from the country. In the witch craft trials people were compensated in that the bad name was changed on the church records. On the other hand McCarthyism brought people back to the USA, but in Salem it was weakening the status or the name of people because of self greed and basically stupidity.
John Proctor helped Salem to become a democratic state rather than theocratic- a powerful religious state. Proctor died in order to do all this, and then he died as a good man denying his past affairs. In this essay I intend to explore how Arthur Miller shows the spiritual development of John Proctor. In Act one, John Proctor was introduced by Arthur Miller as a fraud and a sinner ‘…. waiting’ for you every night. ‘ (Act 1 pg 17) Salem was a theocratic state that was over ruled by strict religious people controlling the society.
In the previous evidence it is shown by Arthur Miller that John Proctor has had an affair with Abigail Williams. This is absolutely not permissible because Abigail is seventeen years of age and John is almost twice her age. In the 21st century if you knew someone doing something similar you would be frowned upon but this play is set 300 hundred years or so before our time and the theocratic state punishment can be very severe in view of the fact that of adultery which is one the ten commandments being broken.
Additionally, he has also dishonoured his wife but John finally has put a stop to it and wants no more of Abigail. He is gradually realising that he is doing wrong and he is repenting. The process of spiritual development is taking place. ‘… I will cut off my hand before I’ll reach for you again’ (Act 1 pg 18). John knows of his wrong doing, so he means that he is going to stop this adultery he’ll cut his hands off if he’s going touch her again. John’ is changing in what he wants and the thing he wants is his wife; linking from the previous sentence it shows he still loves his wife.
The audience will also see how much he needs to change to become a good man. The water is boiling in the crucible pot. In Act 2 John tries to make amends with his wife Elizabeth Proctor because his relationship is strained, ‘bring flowers’ (Act 2 pg 42) John suggests this because he feels that his home is cold and needs flowers to make it seem more of a warm loving home. Miller shows that the relationship between Elizabeth and him is not working. Also it shows that the way they are living is dull and grey. So John is therefore making amends by bringing flowers.
Elizabeth does not have faith in John for his past affair and there is a lack of trust for John. ‘You were alone with her? ‘ (Act 2 pages 45) Elizabeth is asking questions and not believing him of what he is doing. John tells her directly that he was with Abigail. It is seen by the audience that Elizabeth does not like this, meaning – Elizabeth is finding it hard to trust him ever again. In the situation the audience know prior, that John’s wife will never forgive him for what he has done to her or forget. ‘You forget nothing and forgive nohin’.
(Act 2 pg 44) What ever John is doing Elizabeth is holding the affair against him, significantly she will not believe him. The audience can see the enormity of amending John has to do, remembering that he did not need to tell Elizabeth about the conference of Abigail. The temperature is rising in the crucible. We have now seen a slight change in Proctor’s spiritual development but only just. In the end of Act 2, more spiritual development has taken place. In this Act Elizabeth is arrested and Proctor is concerned about what has happened.
When Proctor is told his wife is accused by Abigail, he is horrified and he is confused. ‘… your spirit twists around the single error of my life, and I never tear it free! ‘ (Act 2 pg 51) Proctor is scared and knows that it is his fault that Abigail accused Elizabeth. He knows that he has to do something that he has crippled their lives and now he is going to lose his wife because of his affair. Proctor is shocked and angry to see his wife go and won’t let go of her. Proctor loves his wife; he shows love and faith in her.