“How does Miller introduce and dramatise the main theme of the play in the first act? How does this act relate to later tragic events in the crucible? ” The entirety of the play ‘The Crucible’ revolves around: reputation, personal grudges, revenge, guilt, loss of innocence and dangerous implications, especially in Act 1. Due to this, I will analyse and elaborate upon the ideas by the playwright ‘Arthur Miller’ in this act. This was a true account of the terrifying era whereby a story of witchcraft destroyed a flourishing society.
Furthermore this play typifies the predicaments still present in the world; it would suggest that socially, humans have not progressed positively, otherwise advancing in technology and lifestyle etc. Arthur Miller’s account of the Salem witch trials was published 264 years after the story took place; the original story was based in 1692. This period of unquestionable injustice fascinated Miller to search for the real truth and facts behind it all. After lengthy burrowing into court records retained by the Massachusetts crime courts, Miller had the sufficient information to build his four-act play into a success.
Later on, I will reveal how this play explores themes that are centred on evil. A word about the title; a ‘Crucible’ is a scientific instrument or vessel, in which metals are heated to extract and eradicate impurities. This is the hidden understanding in this play; the fact that this town is adamant on wiping out the supernatural race in their community to cleanse it of evil. Manifestly, Abigail was involved in almost every event that occurred – occasionally dragging John Proctor with her. They had a mysterious history untold until the court case, the result devastating for the Proctors’ defence.
Just as I had listed before, this play is congregated of many themes. Each was a result of the other it seemed; John Proctor suffered guilt as a result of his affair with Abigail, so he immediately ceased their relationship as their affair may have wrecked his marriage with Elizabeth (Goody) Proctor. Abigail cursed and vowed to seek revenge, in the form of condemning Goody Proctor to death if she won the court battle, where an allegation of witchcraft was made towards Goody Proctor. John Proctor was a farmer working hard to make a living and rarely interfered in others’ lives.
Miller states, “In Proctor’s presence a fool felt his own foolishness… ” which implies he possessed an aura that made an ignorant person ‘eat his own words’. Many despised Abigail. Ironically, the search and conquering of the devil’s work/companions may not have been amongst the forests or spirits in the sky, but been in the human shape of Abigail Williams. Her ‘evil’ deeds resulted in mass executions of several innocent townspeople and it escalated this increasingly inane case of witchcraft. In her early life, she unfortunately lost both her parents in a gruesome massacre; this event may well have contributed towards her bizarre mentality.
Miller dramatizes this cleverly by dressing her character in plain black and white clothing; many may perceive her character as black and white, the black is most prominent which exemplified evil and death. In conjunction with them, Thomas Putnam was another man of relevance. He was a bitter and sly man; on page 11 the audience come to light of his past grievances; he was deeply angered when his wife’s brother in-law was rejected as minister of Salem. Reverend John Hale was totally different; he was a remarkable man, high in intellect and wit; his expertise prompted the public to call upon him especially for this witchcraft case.
Known to have handled such cases previously, Hale spoke of Lucifer with assurance and was specific in his investigations. Preferring to die than sin, the civilians believed sinners would spend eternity at the palms of the devil, at his underground lair called ‘hell’. This wave of religious beliefs did get out of hand, some of which I will make apparent later in the essay. Rather like Hale, aged Giles Corey is remarkable too. However, neither his braveness nor innocence prevented him from being blamed for so much! Apart from his virtuousness, his elderly age makes him a man pitied by the audience.
Early in Act 1, Reverend Parris attempted to protect his reputation. Reputation attracted respect; it was the only possible way people would have trusted you or confided in highly confidential matters with you, “… leap not to witchcraft… They will howl me out of Salem for corruption in my house. ” [Page 10 Reverend Samuel Parris] Above all other concerns, Parris believed the dancing in the forest fiasco would blacken his name in the neighbourhood. “They will howl me out,” suggests that this topic of accusations could have had a torrid fate install for him.