Power and Authority in Arthur

Even Tituba is accorded greater status than before. Women, traditionally marginalized in a religiously oppressive society, can gain power through the mechanisms provided by the witch hunt and the tribunals headed by men who believe the girls (or want to believe the accusers). Some of the men leading the hunt seem to genuinely think that they are doing Gods work, while others seem to have more mixed motivations. All seem to enjoy demonstrating their authority, although they do not fully realize the degree to which they are being manipulated by the girls.

Power-hungry Abigail suddenly has more authority than even Elizabeth Proctor had as a wife overseeing a household. Elizabeth once had the power to expel Abigail from her home; now the town is in fear of who the girls will discover to be a witch. People are afraid to upset the young women. The townspeoples own prejudices mix with their fears and belief in witchcraft — John Proctor is disliked because of his independence and Giles Corey because of his relative prosperity as a farmer, for example.

Both will die as a result.

Perhaps the greatest exemplar of authority in the play is that of the Reverend Parris. Parris clearly believes that he has the power of God behind him when he fights against accused witches, and that he is saving his young daughter Betty from their grasp. But although he has the authority to condemn others, he is really being used by Abigail to further her agenda — to do away with Elizabeth, so she can have John to herself. Parris foolish actions show that possessing authority means little without intelligent judgment and responsibility. The dynamic between Parris and Abigail shows how the existence of power can have many forms. Power in the form of Abigail Williams twists institutional beliefs and judicial mechanisms to suit a girls ends and makes a man in authority like Parris a plaything of a love-sick, irrational adolescent..

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