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What’s a Theme? Why Are Themes Important?

❶What motivates their attitudes and responses toward the witch trials?

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by Arthur Miller
From the SparkNotes Blog
The Crucible Themes

He can use this evidence in court to show that she is guilty, but he is reluctant to. He tries to find other ways to prove her guilty without losing his respect. Also, Proctor is able to get away free if he agrees to sign a paper saying he was an ally of the devil. He struggles to lie that he did work with the devil. The document would be hung on the church door for all to see. His reputation would be ruined. Proctor is able to save his own life by lying, but he just can not. He sees the others go down as noble people.

It is not right to lie, so Proctor tears up the document and hangs with the others. He could not live with the guilt that his name would be tainted forever. Reverend Parris does not want his good name to be tarnished either.

Parris is known throughout the town as the churchly figure. Most citizens do not like his personality, but he is respected for his belief in religion. During the trials, Parris knows deep down that some of the people are not guilty. However, if he were to stand up for them and say they are innocent, he would be going against the bible. When he says that someone did not see the devil, he himself would be accused of making a pact with the devil. Parris has no respect other than his respect for being very religious.

If he were to loose this respect, he would be ruined. She believed she had seen spirits earlier because she was caught up in the delusions of those around her.

Abigail distracts the judges from any rational investigation in this act by playing into this hysteria. Will you confess yourself with him? Danforth insists that John must know more about the Devil's dealings than he has revealed.

Though Rebecca Nurse's involvement has already been corroborated by other confessors, Danforth demands to hear it from John to confirm that John is fully committed to renouncing his supposed ties to Satan. Here are a few questions about hysteria to consider now that you've read a summary of how this theme was expressed throughout the plot of the play:.

Even though there is significant reason to believe Abigail is lying about Elizabeth's familiar spirit stabbing her, the frenzied investigators ignore testimony that challenges their chosen witchy narrative. Concern for reputation is a theme that looms large over most of the events in The Crucible. Though actions are often motivated by fear and desires for power and revenge, they are also propped up by underlying worries about how a loss of reputation will negatively affect characters' lives.

Once there have been enough convictions, the reputations of the judges also become factors. They are extremely biased towards believing they have made the correct sentencing decisions in court thus far, so they are reluctant to accept new evidence that may prove them wrong. The importance placed on reputation helps perpetuate hysteria because it leads to inaction, inflexibility, and, in many cases, active sabotage of the reputations of others for selfish purposes. The overall message is that when a person's actions are driven by desires to preserve favorable public opinion rather than do the morally right thing, there can be extremely dire consequences.

Reverend Parris' concerns about his reputation are immediately evident in Act 1. Parris is very quick to position himself on the side of the accusers as soon as Abigail throws the first punch, and he immediately threatens violence on Tituba if she doesn't confess pg. He appears to have no governing system of morality. His only goal is to get on the good side of the community as a whole, even in the midst of this bout of collective hysteria.

Abigail also shows concern for her reputation. She is enraged when Parris questions her suspicious dismissal from the Proctor household. Abigail insists that she did nothing to deserve it and tries to put all the blame on Elizabeth Proctor. She says, "My name is good in the village! I will not have it said my name is soiled! Goody Proctor is a gossiping liar! In this act, we learn more details about the accused that paint a clearer picture of the influence of reputation and social standing on the patterns of accusations.

Goody Good, an old beggar woman, is one of the first to be named a witch. Rebecca Nurse, a woman whose character was previously thought to be unimpeachable, is accused and arrested.

This is taken as evidence that things are really getting out of control "if Rebecca Nurse be tainted, then nothing's left to stop the whole green world from burning. People in power continue to believe the accusers out of fear for their own safety, taking the hysteria to a point where no one is above condemnation. At the end this act, John Proctor delivers a short monologue anticipating the imminent loss of the disguises of propriety worn by himself and other members of the Salem community.

The faces that people present to the public are designed to garner respect in the community, but the witch trials have thrown this system into disarray. John Proctor sabotages his own reputation in Act 3 after realizing it's the only way he can discredit Abigail.

This is a decision with dire consequences in a town where reputation is so important, a fact that contributes to the misunderstanding that follows. She continues to act under the assumption that his reputation is of the utmost importance to him, and she does not reveal the affair.

This lie essentially condemns both of them. Danforth also acts out of concern for his reputations here. This fact could destroy his credibility , so he is biased towards continuing to trust Abigail. Danforth has extensive pride in his intelligence and perceptiveness. This makes him particularly averse to accepting that he's been fooled by a teenage girl.

Though hysteria overpowered the reputations of the accused in the past two acts, in act 4 the sticking power of their original reputations becomes apparent.

Parris begs Danforth to postpone their hangings because he fears for his life if the executions proceed as planned. In the final events of Act 4, John Proctor has a tough choice to make between losing his dignity and losing his life. The price he has to pay in reputation to save his own life is ultimately too high. I have given you my soul; leave me my name! Here are a few discussion questions to consider after you've read my summary of how the theme of reputation motivates characters and plot developments in The Crucible:.

If you're an old beggar woman who sometimes takes shelter in this creepy shack, you better believe these jerks are gonna turn on you as soon as anyone says the word "witch. Where before she was just an orphaned teenager, now, in the midst of the trials, she becomes the main witness to the inner workings of a Satanic plot. The main pillars of traditional power are represented by the law and the church. These two institutions fuse together in The Crucible to actively encourage accusers and discourage rational explanations of events.

The girls are essentially given permission by authority figures to continue their act because they are made to feel special and important for their participation. The people in charge are so eager to hold onto their power that if anyone disagrees with them in the way the trials are conducted, it is taken as a personal affront and challenge to their authority.

Danforth, Hathorne, and Parris become even more rigid in their views when they feel they are under attack. As mentioned in the overview, religion holds significant power over the people of Salem. Reverend Parris is in a position of power as the town's spiritual leader, but he is insecure about his authority. He believes there is a group of people in town determined to remove him from this position, and he will say and do whatever it takes to retain control.

This causes problems down the line as Parris allows his paranoia about losing his position to translate into enthusiasm for the witch hunt. Abigail, on the other hand, faces an uphill battle towards more power over her situation.

She is clearly outspoken and dominant, but her initial position in society is one of very little influence and authority. Abigail accuses Tituba first because Tituba is the one person below her on the ladder of power, so she makes an easy scapegoat. If Tituba was permitted to explain what really happened, the ensuing tragedy might have been prevented.

No one will listen to Tituba until she agrees to confirm the version of events that the people in traditional positions of authority have already decided is true, a pattern which continues throughout the play. By Act 2, there have been notable changes in the power structure in Salem as a result of the ongoing trials.

This new power is exciting and very dangerous because it encourages the girls to make additional accusations in order to preserve their value in the eyes of the court.

Abigail, in particular, has quickly risen from a nobody to one of the most influential people in Salem. No one thinks a teenage orphan girl is capable of such extensive deception or delusion , so she is consistently trusted.

She openly threatens Danforth for even entertaining Mary and John's accusations of fraud against her. Though Danforth is the most powerful official figure in court, Abigail manipulates him easily with her performance as a victim of witchcraft.

He's already accepted her testimony as evidence, so he is happy for any excuse to believe her over John and Mary. John finally comes to the realization that Mary's truthful testimony cannot compete with the hysteria that has taken hold of the court. The petition he presents to Danforth is used as a weapon against the signers rather than a proof of the innocence of Elizabeth, Martha, and Rebecca.

Abigail's version of events is held to be true even after John confesses to their affair in a final effort to discredit her. Logic has no power to combat paranoia and superstition even when the claims of the girls are clearly fraudulent. John Proctor surrenders his agency at the end of Act 3 in despair at the determination of the court to pursue the accusations of witchcraft and ignore all evidence of their falsehood.

By Act 4, many of the power structures that were firmly in place earlier in the play have disintegrated. Reverend Parris has fallen from his position of authority as a result of the outcomes of the trials.

In Act 1 he jumped on board with the hysteria to preserve his power, but he ended up losing what little authority he had in the first place and, according to Miller's afterward, was voted out of office soon after the end of the play.

The prisoners have lost all faith in earthly authority figures and look towards the judgment of God. The only power they have left is in refusing to confess and preserving their integrity. I n steadfastly refusing to confess, Rebecca Nurse holds onto a great deal of power. The judges cannot force her to commit herself to a lie, and her martyrdom severely damages their legitimacy and favor amongst the townspeople. Here are some discussion questions to consider after reading about the thematic role of the concepts of power and authority in the events of the play:.

Mary Warren when she comes back from Salem in Act 2. These are themes that could be considered subsets of the topics detailed in the previous sections, but there's also room to discuss them as topics in their own right.

I'll give a short summary of how each plays a role in the events of The Crucible. The theme of guilt is one that is deeply relevant to John Proctor's character development throughout the play.

John feels incredibly ashamed of his affair with Abigail, so he tries to bury it and pretend it never happened. His guilt leads to great tension in interactions with Elizabeth because he projects his feelings onto her, accusing her of being judgmental and dwelling on his mistakes. In reality, he is constantly judging himself, and this leads to outbursts of anger against others who remind him of what he did he already feels guilty enough!

But others thrive on the hysteria as well: Reverend Parris strengthens his position within the village, albeit temporarily, by making scapegoats of people like Proctor who question his authority. In the end, hysteria can thrive only because people benefit from it. It suspends the rules of daily life and allows the acting out of every dark desire and hateful urge under the cover of righteousness. Reputation is tremendously important in theocratic Salem, where public and private moralities are one and the same.

In an environment where reputation plays such an important role, the fear of guilt by association becomes particularly pernicious. Focused on maintaining public reputation, the townsfolk of Salem must fear that the sins of their friends and associates will taint their names.


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The Crucible Themes essays In the play, The Crucible, the playwright Arthur Miller portrayed many different themes. He uses real life events from the Salem Witch Trials in to show that fear and suspicion are infectious and can produce a mass hysteria that destroys public order and rationality.

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The Theme of Evilness in The Crucible by Arthur Miller Essay Words | 6 Pages The Theme of Evilness in The Crucible by Arthur Miller In any type of society there is evil.

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Themes in The Crucible Essay - Themes in The Crucible In the crucible Arthur Miller takes the chilling story of the Salem witch hunt in and combines it with the issues of McCarthyism in the s. The Crucible is a play by Arthur Miller. The Crucible study guide contains a biography of Arthur Miller, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

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An essay or paper on Themes of "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller. In Arthur Miller"s, "The Crucible," many themes are expressed throughout the . John Proctor would no longer be thought of a morally straight and righteous person. Reverend Parris would loose all his respect and not be accepted by society. Judge Danforth would be constantly questioned and loose his job. Keeping and maintaining your good name is an overwhelming theme in .