Arthur Miller’s play about the Salem witch trials in 1692 realistically portrays human nature in all its corruption and vice. Witchcraft itself is scrutinized as an excuse for certain characters with selfish reasons to gain profit from others’ misfortunes.
John Proctor is one character who is motivated by a noble reason—to free his wife from the accusation of being a witch. He sacrifices his own reputation to try to save her. However, even he has hidden sins behind his superficial integrity which have serious consequences. In Salem, hypocrisy and hatred combine into a collective sin under the guise of faith and religion. The seven deadly sins all are visible through the characters’ actions in spite of their strict Puritan doctrines.
Miller cynically describes how far a person would transgress his/her neighbor in pursuit of personal vengeance and greed. Injustice and false accusations begin with Abigail Williams’ testimony of witchcraft, an action prompted by her own lust, pride, and fears. She is the primary antagonist who almost single-handedly destroys the credibility and safety of every citizen in Salem. Abigail is truly despicable, not only because of her deceit, but also for the “respect” that the judicial authorities give her without any doubts. Parris, the minister and Abigail’s guardian, also supports the ridiculous proceedings under the pretense of justice and Puritanism. As Miller narrates the story, the reader becomes enveloped in the devastation created by one lie told to hide a vulgar, indecent incident. Salem’s theocracy becomes corrupted as cruel government officials use the idea of God to justify the execution of innocent people without mercy or compassion. Stirring and remarkable, The Crucible severely tests any belief in the existence of human merit.
Original review: ‘The Crucible’ is a powerful tragedy, Examiner.com