“Envy blinds men and makes it impossible for them to think clearly.” – Malcom X
During the summer of 1692, there was great hysteria in Salem, Massachusetts. This period of great chaos would be known as the Salem Witch Trials, a one of the worst of the proceedings that went in front of a colonial court. These trials and the actions resulting in them and during them is the story line for the show The Crucible by Arthur Miller. There are numerous themes that one might say lead this mass hysteria in Salem. The biggest theme made clear throughout the whole show is envy, specifically the two peoples, Ann Putnam’s envy of Rebecca Nurse and Abigail Williams’ towards Elizabeth Putnam.
One of the most clear examples of envy in The Crucible is Goody Putnam’s towards Goody Nurse. During act one this hatred like envy becomes very clear when Mrs. Putnam gets into a rage of jealousy over the fact that Rebecca Nurse has not lost one child or grandchild, while Ann Putnam has lost all, but one child: “But I must! You think it God’s work you should never lose a child, nor grandchild either, and I bury all but one? ” (841). Goody Putnam is very upset because she believes that her daughter Ruth is under the control of a witch and Rebecca wishes to look to God for the solution. Thus, causing Ann to get into a rage and start making her jealousy over the fact that he lost almost all her kids and Mrs. Nurse lost none. Another point of jealousy can be inferred in act two when Francis Nurse tells Reverend Hale that Rebecca Nurse has been arrested “for the marvelous and supernatural murder of Goody Putnam’s babies,” (858). Although it is not mentioned in the show, one can guess that the only person that would have the motives to charge Goody Nurse of murder and being a witch would be Ann Putnam, a jealous woman seeking revenge. Ann Putnam is so envious of Rebecca Nurse that she charges her with murder, causing her to be hung, for Rebecca will not lie and confess even if it will save her life.
The other person that shows the most ammout of jealousy of another character would be Abigail Williams’ envy of Elizabeth Proctor. In act one, during one of the times that Betty speaks, Betty brings up the fact that Abby did not just drink dance, but she drank blood “You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor!” (837). Abigail loves John Proctor because the two of them had an affair together while Mrs. Proctor was sick. Abigail believes that if Elizabeth Proctor just dies that then she can have Proctor all to herself and not have to keep their relationship a secret. In addition to trying to kill her off, another example of envy that Abby had towards Goody Proctor is when Abigail charges her of murder in act 2: “Why, Abigail Williams charge[s] her? ” (859). This scene is where Cheever comes to arrest Goody Proctor for attempted murder of Abigail using a poppet. Mary Warren created this poppet and Abby made sat there and watched her make the poppet. Thus, an inference can be proposed that Abby made sure that a needle was in her body and the poppets body in the same location. Abby has a clear jealousy of Elizabeth Proctor and Abbigial gets revenge on Elizabeth by causing hysteria and having Goody Proctor arrested.
During the very famous Salem Witch Trials in 1692, specifically the summer, many claims and charges of witchcraft were laid. These charges are clearly false, but in the very devout Puritan community, these accusations were taken very seriously. So seriously, that many would be hung; these proceedings are what Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. This show has many themes upon which one might argue is at the root of this mass hysteria. The theme that is quite evident throughout this entire production is envy, and specifically two lead characters envy of other characters, Goody Putnam’s towards Goody Nurse and Abigail Williams’ towards Goody Proctor.