Thursday, September 1, 2011

Crucible Act One

The Crucible, despite being written in the nineteen fifties, has quite a few characteristics of Puritan writings about it. First of all, the sentence style is very much puritan sounding in the narration. The author uses fairly short, declarative sentences with little extra in them to add much flavor. This can be seen very well in the beginning narration, and especially in the following passage.
The edge of the wilderness was close by. The American continent stretched endlessly west, and it was full of mystery for them. It stood, dark and threatening, over their shoulders night and day, for out of it Indian tribes marauded from time to time, and Reverend Parris had parishioners who had lost relatives to these heathen. (Miller 5)
Though the phrase "dark and threatening" probably would have been omitted if the play were written by an actual Puritan, the lack of drama and passion when talking about Indian killings certainly savors strongly of Puritan.

Another Puritan quality in the writing is the many references to religion. The main difference in the play and Puritan writing is who the characters reference when they talk. In Puritan writings, God is talked about in every aspect of every event. In The Crucible, the devil is the constant religious figure being referenced and talked about. Although the story is centered around accused demonic encounters, were it written by a Puritan it would have a thousand time more references to God himself.

One thing that shows how the Puritan faith was declining was that all of Reverend Parris' sermons were about the impending doom awaiting in hell for the faithless. Mr. Proctor says "I have trouble enough without I come five mile to hear him preach only hellfire and bloody damnation. Take it to heart, Mr. Parris. There are many others who stay away from church these days because you hardly ever mention God anymore (Miller 29)." When the Puritan faith was declining, the preachers tried to pull their parishioners back by scaring them with such speeches of hell. I am really not surprised that that did not work, because no one really wants to be told they are going to hell. You catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar.

Another sign of declining faith in the region was that even though Procter did not go to church often at all, he was still a very respected member of the community. In the old Massachusetts theocracy, people such as Roger Williams were exiled for a difference in belief. In the days of the Salem witch trials, faith must have waned a great deal for such absence from church to make so little difference.

Overall I think that The Crucible is a very good example of Puritan writing even though it was written much later than that period. I think that a lot of it is different than Puritan writing, especially in all of the details in the author's descriptions, but that for the most part it is very close.

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York, NY: Penguin, 1996. Print.

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