Book Review : The Crucible

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Throughout the history of society, there have been a number of different types of conflicts. These conflicts range from individual versus individual to society versus individual to individual versus society, as well as many others. The book The Crucible is a play set in the Puritan New England village of Salem during the infamous Salem Witch Trials. The play contains a classic example of an individual challenging society as a whole. During the Salem Witch Trials, there was mass hysteria throughout many of the villages in New England. There was a strong belief that there were witches and wizards living among the villagers that were in business with the devil. The trials closely resembled the period of McCarthyism experienced during the Cold War. Countless people were accused and hanged innocently for suspicion of practicing witchcraft. Among these people was John Proctor. Proctor was a man with deep pride that was well respected in the village.

There are many ways in which Proctor exhibited conflicts with society, the deeply religious men and women of the village of Salem.

One conflict that John Proctor had with his village was his lack of attendance at Sunday church. Although deeply religious himself, John did not share the same views about God as his minister, Reverend Parris. He also did not appreciate the fact that Parris seemed to take all the villagers money to better himself and to buy frivolous things for the church. "…when I look to heaven and I see my money glaring at his elbows-it hurt my prayer, sir, it hurt my prayer. I think, sometimes, the man dreams cathedrals, not clapboard meetin' houses" (pg 65). This quote explains why Proctor does not find need to attend Sabbath masses, he does not see Parris as a very holy man and finds just as good to pray at home. He also challenges the church by not baptizing one of his sons. When Reverend Hale asks Proctor why all of his boys have not been baptized, Proctor responds, "I like it not that Mr. Parris should lay his hand upon my baby. I see no light of god in that man" (pg 65). This again shows that Proctor does not see Parris as a holy man and how he enters conflicts with the church.

Proctor also challenged society in other ways. Throughout the course of the trials, John Proctor was a lone voice of truth in a sea of false accusations and unwavering lies. All throughout the trials, as good people were continually put on trial because of completely untrue and outrageous accusations, Proctor was one of the few people that stood up for what was right. Generally, people who spoke out about the courts were then in turn accused of siding with the devil; this kept a lot of people back from speaking out because lets face it, no one to be accused of practicing witchcraft. This however did not stop John Proctor. He was never afraid to voice his opinion and frequently protested the trials openly.

The last example of how John Proctor entered conflict with the court of Salem had to do with his pride. Although considered being a good trait to possess, John's pride was so deep that it had a nasty habit of making him rather stubborn at times. During the trials, if you were accused of practicing witchcraft, the only way to avoid hanging was to confess. Seeing this as the only way to avoid certain death, many people gave a false confession to save their own lives. As the trials dragged on and the accusations became even more ridiculous, the judges in the court began to realize that there were no witches and they were just condemning innocent people. The head judge however, was more concerned with saving face than doing what was right. Therefore, he wouldn't allow them to just release those in jail. Instead, he decided that what he needed was someone to confess to make an example for others to follow. The man he chose to make this example was John Proctor. Because of the villagers respect for Proctor, the judges thought if he confessed others would follow suit. At first, Proctor went along with the judges' wishes but he then realized the errors in his ways. He refused to admit to something he did not do and would not be made an example. Proctor allowed himself to hang innocently in protest of the trials. He did however die with honor.