Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Crucible–Arthur Miller

This play is really quite terrifying; I cannot think of any other way to describe it. This is the first time I’ve heard of the Salem Witch Trials, and when exposed to this book it brought to mind The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne which was also set in Puritan 17th century Massachusetts. In it, Hester Prynne is accused of adultery and is made to wear an ‘A’ as a manifestation of her sin– it becomes weight and symbol. But it is the people around them, the public, the crowd led by a few especially wickedĀ individuals that are the drivers of that hysteria, and in both The Crucible and The Scarlet Letter it is they that are really the villains and antagonists. I suppose that that these terrible punishments are sought in the name of morality exacerbates the horror; evil is evil, but when it masks or deludes itself into believing that violence should be done in the name of good is more frightening. It would be interesting to examine the psychological elements of this, in which people feel their ethics and beliefs are so precarious as to need to unload their fears this way. It reminds me of Achebe and what he said in one of his responses to Conrad: how colonists needed affirmation of their civilization’s superiority, and needed to define the object of their hatred/fear in direct opposition to themselves. It just goes to show that really, everything is internal; there are rarely external threats, only those that are conjured up by strange mutations of fear. Also curious: that the most seemingly self-assured people are really the most twisted (such as Danforth); their authority is derived from the uncertainties of others, especially the uncertainties of the best and most morally upright people.