The Crucible “The Plot”

9 September 2016

The overall message of Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, is that when uncontrolled hysteria is combined with ignorance, the outcome is tragic. While Miller offers his audience some comic dialogue to soften the events it does not mask the horrifying reality of the witch hunt and its aftermath. Rather, the humorous insights serve to reveal the simplicity and innocence of people living rustic lives in a God-fearing community. Several characters, Paris and Hale, Mary Warren and John Proctor, provide the audience with some comic dialogue, and Giles Corey is the most amusing character of them all.

The hysteria which abounded in Salem allowed small, inconsequential, even comic, events to form the basis of sinister fabrications. Farmers who were envious of the area of land owned by others, or who craved a remedy for imagined wrongs, took the opportunity to bear false witness. Seemingly comic situations, such as Mary Warren reporting to the Court that when she did not give the beggar woman, Goody Osborn, bread and a cup of cider, she ‘mumbled’, had tragic outcomes. Martha Corey was arrested because a pig she sold to a farmer had died a short time after he took delivery of it.

The Crucible “The Plot” Essay Example

At the time Martha had said to him, “Walcott if you haven’t the wit to feed a pig properly, you’ll not live to own many. ” Although that was four or five years earlier, the farmer told the Court that Martha had bewitched all subsequent pigs and caused them to die also. Giles Corey innocently asks the Reverend Hale why he could not say his prayers when his wife was in the room reading books. Later, after Martha Corey was arrested, he tried to clarify his point: “I never said my wife were a witch, Mr Hale, I only said she were reading books. When Reverend Paris implied that he should be paid more than sixty pounds a year (with six dollars extra for firewood), because he was a” graduate of Harvard College” , Giles quickly replies “Aye, and well instructed in arithmetic. ” Many lies are told, and believed; but the irony is, of course, that neither the telling of truths nor the refusal to betray a confidence, protects the innocent in the overtly Christian community of Salem. John Proctor admits to the Court that he has ‘known’ Abigail Williams because he wants to protect his wife, Elizabeth, from hanging.

However, when she fails to say that John is an adulterer, the Court disregards his ‘truth,’ Abigail Williams remains free to continue on with her vengeful lies, and he is taken into custody. Giles Corey not only possesses wit and humour, he is also loyal. He dies a slow, horrible death because he fails to reveal the source of his knowledge that “The day Putnam’s daughter cried out on Jacobs, (Putnam) said she’d given him a fair gift of land. ” He does not give the name because he says “He’ll lay in jail if I give his name. ” There is, among the characters of the play, a simple honesty and a moral way of being which leads to tragedy.

While readers will laugh at Mary Warren telling her employer, John Proctor, that she will go to bed when she wishes as she is ‘eighteen and a woman, however single’, and note with the amusement the pompous certainty of the Reverend Hale when we first meet him laden with books, “Here is the invisible world caught, defined, and calculated. ” They will also find the ignorance and cunning pretence of some characters deeply disturbing and horrifyingly tragic. While Miller may have wished to ease our sorrow at the hysterical, deadly lies told by the children of Salem with some comic moments, the tragic events of the play overrule them all.

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