The Crucible By Arthur Miller

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“Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution.” (Emerson). The Crucible by Arthur Miller is a work of historical fiction that illustrates the Salem witch trials that occurred between 1692 and 1693 in Salem, Massachusetts. In the play, several esteemed members of Salem are tried and hung for the crime of practicing witchcraft. A wave of hysteria washes over the town as people realize that nobody is safe. In the play Arthur Miller explores the potential of using the word “name” to create a system of checks and balances on the characters in the play. In the beginning of Act I, just after Betty Parris has fallen ill, Parris asks Abigail about her credibility in the town. Reverend Parris had found Abigail, Betty, and Ruth Putman dancing in the woods with Tituba. Parris had walked in on them and supposedly frightened both Betty and Ruth into a coma-esque illness. At this point in the book, Parris wonders how much weight Abigail Williams’s words will have in the town if he should need someone to corroborate his story. “Your name in the town - it is entirely white is it not?” (1031). At this point in the play, the meaning of the word “name” has come to represent one’s reputation. Reverend Parris uses this word This gives power to Abigail Williams as it establishes that she is a credible source. In Act II, as the chain of accusations began, Abigail Williams accuses Goody Proctor of practicing witchcraft.

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