The Human Lust For Power By Arthur Miller

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The human lust for power is a concept that is universally evident across both the historical and literary worlds. Historians and philosophers alike constantly analyze its corrupting influence and recursive nature. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, however, highlights a different facet of power: the means by which individuals strive to obtain it. In particular, he focuses on social power and the use of accusatory labels, such as “witch,” to obtain this power. The story is also a clear extended analogy for American McCarthyism, comparing the absurdity of the Salem witch trials to the equally ridiculous accusations of “communist sympathies” that destroyed the careers and reputations of Americans during the 1950s. However, if we limit our view of Miller’s work to these two time periods alone, we do him a disservice, as the thematic concepts within The Crucible are equally applicable to both those situations and societies within the modern era as a whole. The use of false accusations and labels to obtain power over others is a much more widespread phenomenon than a cursory examination of The Crucible leads one to believe. In this paper, I will highlight several examples of these devices in periods throughout the modern era in order to show that the issues raised by Miller’s work are not limited to the events described, or to the past. In The Crucible, the accusations of witchcraft were handled by a justice system with questionable protocols. The suspicious nature of the judge made
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