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The Crucible's Cultural Analysis

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In a time where the view of man in society was simply as a sinner, unworthy of salvation and individuality was scarce, numerous things were bound to go wrong. In Puritan culture, life was remarkably different than it is now. Everything was revolved around God and his teachings. Religion played a huge aspect in daily life and members in Puritan society were expected to follow a strict moral code, with church and prayer being the most important thing. Going to church was a huge part of daily life, and not going was thought to be sinful. Not only this, but Puritans very much believed in witchcraft, and thought about it often. Also, the roles of women and children were a lot less significant than the role of men. Men worked, and were the Reverends and Preachers, while the women did housework and took care of the children. Children were not thought of highly at all and they were not even allowed to look adults in the eyes because it was a sign of disrespect. All these aspects of Puritan culture, especially the limited roles of women and children, the considerable influence of religion, and the focus on community rather than individuality had a paramount effect on the outcome of the play The Crucible, by Arthur Miller.

The influence and center of Puritan culture on religion greatly impacted the events in the play. The church and reverends in the town of Salem during the Witch Trials had the most power because religion was the center of Puritan culture. The church having the most power was especially unfortunate because it could not be overpowered, and it was becoming exceedingly corrupt. In “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller, Reverend Hale states, “We cannot blink it no more. There is a prodigious fear of this court in the country-” (Miller 513). After the hangings and arrests of many people in the town, people were afraid to speak out against the court, because just like in Puritan culture, they had to follow the religion because that was the most important thing, going against the court would cause immediate suspicion and they could have possibly been accused. If Puritan culture had not been so strict, or the church did not have the most power, the play would not have ended up the way that it did, because the people in Salem would not have been scared to speak out against the church for what was right, and the lies and hysteria would not have spread. Religion and church being the center of life in Puritan communities also affected other aspects of the play. 

When Abigail had accused Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft, and Reverend Hale questioned Proctor and her about their devotion to church and asked them to say their commandments, Proctor forgot one of his. Proctor forgetting one of his commandments led to more suspicion of them, along with Proctor stating he did not believe Reverend Parris was a holy person. In the text, Hale states, “Theology, sir, is a fortress; no crack in a fortress may be accounted small (He rises; he seems worried now. He paces a little, in deep thought.) (Miller 496). Reverend Hale’s suspicion grew when Proctor forgot one of his commandments, which might not seem important, but because of the significance of religion in Puritan culture, this was a huge deal.

The main focus of Puritanism was around religion and the community as a whole, which left very little room for any focus on individuality. Without a source of individuality, many characters in The Crucible, were conflicted and did not speak out against the community, but others like John Proctor, Rebecca Nurse, and Giles Corey did and were punished for their sense of individuality. In the text, when Reverend Parris is questioning Proctor about hidden poppets in he and Elizabeth’s house Proctor states, “There might also be a dragon with 5 legs in my house, but no one has ever seen it” (Miller 516). Proctor speaks his mind and believes in honesty, which eventually causes him trouble. Later in the play, when there had been many accusations and many of the accused were confessing to witchcraft out of fear, Rebecca Nurse, Giles Corey, and John Proctor would not confess, they held on to the truth, and were hanged for it. In the text, it staes, 

The focus on community and lack of individuality in Puritan culture, and therefore in the town of Salem, made it nearly impossible for any truth to come out. People were forced by fear into creating lies and hysteria because the rest of the town was. The little individuality shown in the play, eventually led to the deaths of some of the main characters. Also, the lack of individuality in Puritan culture, and in the town of Salem led some of the characters to act impulsively and revolt against the rules. When Abigail went out to the woods at night with the other girls, she knew it was against the rules, but because as a child in puritan culture, they did not have many rights, they had to go against the rules. In the text it states, “          

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