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Individual Power in “The Crucible”

Thus, when the Court supplies judgment, power and justice are supposedly met. Mary Warren echoes this thought:

like one awakened to a marvelous secret insight: & #8230; its hard as rock, the judges said. (Act II: 118-28)

Secular laws, of course, are made by men of power. Usually, these laws are enacted under the perception of the public good, or at least what those in power perceive as a way to retain power and engender the status quo. When events and personalities challenge the status quo, however, secular laws may not be enough to silence them. In order to keep control, propaganda and paranoia are often used to “bring events under control.”

There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships (Reverend Hale to Francis Nurse defending the witch trials in the face of the arrest of Rebecca) (Act II: 71-2).

Thus, there three types of overall power in the Crucible are expressed within different characterizations. The Church and men embody most of the power, through faith and a dogma that resists change. Shift in power occurs because the church cannot be openly defied, but rather can be manipulated. The shame of the girls cavorting in the woods under moonlight is momentarily forgiven with the idea that the church must save this village.

Finally, the abuse of power, and in fact, as the abuse finishes, there is little less to consume.

It is interesting to note that Miller himself was to be questioned by HUAC (House Unamerican Activities Committee) and convicted in 1956 of “contempt” for failing to identify others present at certain meetings that were ostensibly “communist” oriented. Another theme in the Crucible is that of guilt by association, and the paranoia caused by such, which was so apparent during the early 1950s. See, Atkinston, B. (January 23, 1593), “The Crucible.” The New York Times. http://theater.nytimes.com/mem/theater/treview.html?_r=2&pagewanted=print&res=FC77E7DF173DE362BC4B51DFB7668388649EDE

There are numerous examples of this type of behavior: the Reichstag Fire in Weimar Germany; certainly McCarthys assertion that there were “card carrying Communists” in the State Department. Psychologically, it is easier to dehumanize the enemy, or create a supposed enemy, than to logically explain certain events. For more on this, see:

The juxtaposition between the Court/Status Quo and the diabolical Abigail is part of the abuse of power paradigm in the Crucible.

See the various banters in the final few paragraphs of the play — hateful and despising, but with the reverence of revolution..

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