The Destructive Power of Greed in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

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Words: 697 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Mar 6, 2024

Words: 697|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Mar 6, 2024

Greed is a human trait that has caused many disasters throughout history. In Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, greed takes center stage as a driving force behind the witch trials that occur in Salem. Through various characters, Miller demonstrates how greed can lead people to commit heinous acts in order to satisfy their own selfish desires. This essay will explore the ways in which greed manifests itself in The Crucible and its consequences.
One of the main characters in The Crucible, Reverend Parris, is an embodiment of greed. From the beginning of the play, Parris is obsessed with his reputation and material possessions. He is more concerned with his image in the community than with the well-being of his daughter, Betty, who is lying ill on her bed. Parris’ greed leads him to accuse others of witchcraft in order to deflect attention away from himself and his questionable behavior. When he learns that some people in the town suspect him of wrongdoing, he becomes defensive and paranoid, constantly worried about his own fate. This greed eventually leads Parris to contribute to the hysteria that grips Salem, fueling the witch trials and the deaths of innocent people.
Another character who succumbs to greed is Abigail Williams, the main instigator of the witch trials. Abigail is motivated by her desire for John Proctor, a married man with whom she had an affair. She accuses Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft in order to get rid of her and clear the path for her to be with John. Abigail is also greedy for power - she enjoys the attention and authority she gains as the accuser of others. Her greed escalates when Mary Warren, a former friend, decides to confess that the girls have been lying about their encounters with the devil. Abigail is desperate to maintain her power and manipulates the other girls into accusing Mary of witchcraft. Her greed eventually leads to the death of innocent people, including John Proctor, as she refuses to admit the truth and continues to lie in order to save herself.
John Proctor is another character in the play who is struggling with greed. His inner conflict is between his desire for personal integrity and his desire to maintain his reputation in the community. At the beginning of the play, Proctor is hesitant to reveal his affair with Abigail, fearing that it will ruin his reputation and his good name. However, as the trials progress and more people are accused, Proctor realizes that he needs to take a stand to stop the madness. He struggles with the decision to sign a false confession, which would save his life but stain his reputation forever. In the end, Proctor chooses to die with his integrity intact rather than to succumb to the greed for his life and reputation.
The destructive power of greed in The Crucible is evident in the consequences of the witch trials. Innocent people are accused, convicted, and executed based on the false accusations of a few greedy individuals. The trials tear apart the fabric of the town, causing suspicion and paranoia to run rampant. Families are destroyed and reputations ruined. The legacy of the trials lingers long after the play ends, as the characters struggle to come to terms with the events that have transpired.
The Crucible is a cautionary tale of the dangers of greed. It shows how a few individuals, motivated by their own selfish desires, can cause immense damage to a community. The play highlights the need for personal integrity and the importance of standing up for what is right, even in the face of adversity. The consequences of greed can be disastrous, not only for the individual but for society as a whole.
In conclusion, greed is a destructive force that is threaded throughout Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. The characters’ insatiable desire for power, reputation, and material wealth leads them to commit heinous acts that tear apart the fabric of the community. The legacy of the witch trials serves as a reminder of the terrible consequences of greed and the importance of personal integrity. As readers, we must learn from the characters’ mistakes and strive to avoid the pitfalls of greed in our own lives.

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The Destructive Power of Greed in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. (2024, March 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from
“The Destructive Power of Greed in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.” GradesFixer, 06 Mar. 2024,
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