The Crucible, by Arthur Miller is a play accounting for the tragic events of 1692 in Salem Village. Most people were Puritans, who believed it was against the law not to attend church. The devastating events which took place in Salem Village are known as “The Salem Witch Trials”. These Witch Trials caused many people to be accused of witchcraft and well over a dozen to be executed. The source of all this social disruption, was when many girls and Reverend Parris’s slave Tituba were caught dancing in the woods. The girls blamed their strange actions on witchcraft.
This one incident, along with two of the girls having had fallen ill, was the trigger for the deadly witch hunt. The chaos of frantic accusations caused the community to lose order. For an individual to be exonerated of witchcraft, a person had to reveal who was a suspect of witchcraft. Those who would not falsely accuse others were jailed and some even sacrificed their own life. The Crucible illustrates the sacrifices made by John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor and Rebecca Nurse. The sacrifices made by these individuals, were essential to restore social order.
These characters were victims of the turmoil however, their sacrifices and courage were necessary because the society needed integrity, honesty and loyalty to restore social order. John Proctor was the husband of Elizabeth (Goody) Proctor in the play. John Proctor was not an extremely loyal husband due to his relationship with Abigail Williams. Abigail was one of the girls in the woods and worked for John and his wife in their home as a servant when Elizabeth was sick. Abigail later became an accuser of witchcraft in order to avoid herself being accused of witchcraft, due to having danced in the woods.
Abigail also seeked revenge for both John and Elizabeth Proctor. John Proctor’s decision to reveal his adulterous relationship in court demonstrated his sacrifice to save his wife, as well as to the benefit of others to understand Abigail lied. While in court, he testified “God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a whore’s vengeance, and you must see it; 1 set myself entirely in your hands” (Miller 102). He wanted to do what was right, save his wife’s life, and tell the truth.
However, his wife did not testify to his adultery in the court, and as a result, Abigail’s reason for lying about Elizabeth Proctor being a witch, was not believed by the court. Even though he did not save anyone’s life. This admission helped John Proctor to remove his guilty feeling. After many months in jail, John Proctor would not falsely accuse anyone with the devil. He displayed his integrity when he said “I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another. Crying out with hatred: I have no tongue for it” (Miller 131). He sacrificed his life for his family not to be remembered as dishonest.
His actions helped to restore social order because the continuous false accusations needed to be ended. He concluded “Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name! ” (Miller 133). He wanted to maintain his honor even when it meant his life would be lost. Rebecca Nurse, an elderly woman, was accused of witchcraft and unfortunately, the outcome of the events resulted in her death. She and her husband Francis were very well-respected citizens of the community, who owned hundreds of acres of land.
Rebecca was known as a sincere and caring person in Salem Village. The play begins with Rebecca comforting the Putnams because their daughter, Ruth fell ill. “A child’s spirit is like a child, you can never catch it by running after it; you must stand still, and for love, it will soon itself come back” (Miller 25). Rebecca displayed her compassion and empathy, so the parents could remain calm. Unfortunately, Ann Putnam envied Rebecca because Rebecca had eleven healthy children, while Ann had lost many children at birth.
Rebecca also attempted to create calmness and stop the madness of blaming sickness on the devil, “If so he is, then let us go to God for the cause of it. There is no prodigious danger in the seeking of loose spirits. I fear it. I fear it. Let us rather blame ourselves and -“(Miller 26). Later, Rebecca affirmed her good sense of judgment and morality, when she was asked to confess by the judge and she replied,” Why it is a lie; how many may I damn myself? I cannot. I cannot”(Miller 129). She did not argue or express her opinion onto others. Rebecca stuck to her beliefs, as well as her morals.
When she left the court to be hanged, she almost collapsed. Instead of causing a scene, Rebecca simply stated, “I’ve had no breakfast”(Miller 134). She kept her honesty, when at a time this quality was difficult to find. She was brave and did not fear her death because she stated, “Let you fear nothing! Another judgment waits us all” (Miller 133)! Her devotion to her religion and beliefs were not lost by being a victim. Her actions helped restore social order because many knew her family, and knew she was a good and truthful individual. Elizabeth Proctor, the wife of John Proctor did not lose her life.
However, her sacrifice for her family helped restore social order in many ways. She defended her husband even after she knew of his relationship. Instead of being resentful and having selfpity she moved on and did what was best for her family. During a discussion concerning her husband’s relationship with Abigail, Elizabeth expressed her suspicions. Although, she attempted to assert her confidence in her husband’s character, she said, “I do not judge you. The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you. I never thought you but a good man, John-only somewhat bewildered”(Miller 52).
Later, when Reverend Hale checked on the Proctors for suspicion of witchcraft, Hale asked John Proctor if they knew the Commandments, and John forgot one commandment. Elizabeth delicately stated “Adultery, John” (Miller 64). When Elizabeth was falsely accused of witchcraft due to Abigail William’s seeking revenge. Elizabeth accepted her fate, and willingly left her home. She gave these instructions to the servant, Mary, and her husband, “John-I think I must go with them. Mary, there is bread enough for the morning; you will bake in the afternoon. Help Mr. Proctor, as you were his daughter-you owe me that, and much more.
When the children wake, speak nothing of witchcraft-it will frighten them” (Miller 73). Elizabeth’s concern for her family was more important than herself. Overall, the witch trials resulted in substantial sacrifices for many involved. Especially for those who were hanged and lost their lives. These sacrifices helped restore social order because those who remained loyal to their beliefs were regarded as good citizens, as well as respectable members within the community. If the accusations had continued, more people would have been killed, therefore these sacrifices were necessary.
John Proctor’s truthfulness, even though it meant he would die, showed sincerity and he helped restore the society. Rebecca Nurse and Elizabeth Proctor could have testified they had seen witchcraft, which would have freed them from jail. Social order was restored because they did not continue the repetition in accusing innocent people of false witchcraft. Unfortunately, these people were victims of a make believe witchcraft and a witch hunt however, they stuck to their morals and told the truth, so others could live. Their courage and perseverance allowed society to get back to where it belonged.