Picture what it would be like to go back in the days of the Puritans. The people you’d expect to see would be kind, honest, religious and in every way ethical because that’s how a Puritan should be. Although there were many good Puritans, you’d turn around to see that some were deceiving, vindictive, dishonest, and disloyal. In the Crucible, by Arthur Miller, it all begins with authority and how each character holds their role in it. In the following paragraphs, I’ll be explaining some of the views on authority, who had authority in Salem, and what I believe Miller is really trying to imply as the true source of authority in the Crucible.
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Authority is defined as an official power certain people retain. Persons that first come to mind who possess this power are usually kings, presidents, governors, mayors, priests, and any people that head a position. To receive authority, you must earn it by getting the publics favor. In the Crucible, Danforth is the governor, Hawthorne is the judge, and Hale is the reverend. If not all, most of the people of Salem respected these characters and their beliefs, but the question is who influences them? Who did the authorities respect and believe? Who else but a few innocent-looking girls who would do nothing but good for the town of Salem (or so the people thought). These girls were manipulative, and did anything to get their way. “Why, I am sure it is, sir. There be no blush about my name” (Miller pg. 9) Said one of the most conniving of them all, Abigail, Reverend Paris’s niece.
In the Crucible, you’d have to think about whom really took control in Salem. The authority belonged to the governor, the judge, and the reverend, but whom did it go to? It went to these young girls who could easily trick these authorities into believing them and only them. They lied about dancing in the woods. They denied doing witchcraft. They placed the blame on others and claimed that they were the ones who committed these crimes. “I saw Alice Barrow with the Devil! I saw Goody Hawkins with the Devil! I saw Goody Bibber with the Devil! I saw Goody Booth with the Devil!” (Miller pg. 46) and the authorities believed them. It even got to the point where people like Mary Warren and John Proctor weren’t able to mention what they knew because they couldn’t stand a chance. Salem was taken over by these cunning girls who didn’t want the blame for something they did wrong and put the spotlight on others so they would be the ones that look bad. So, the real authorities, in a way, handed down their power to Abigail and the girls just for believing them. Therefore, they unfortunately were the ones with full authority.
I believe the true source of authority in the Crucible that Miller is implying is the fact that they couldn’t make their own judgements, so they went “witch-hunting” by placing the blame on others as a way to resolve the problem even though that wasn’t a solution. It just covered up the situation, but it didn’t resolve anything. It was the only way out just as in McCarthyism and that whole situation where they named names and had no solid proof. All these things put together were some of the major problems in those time periods, and even to this day. This was the true source that Arthur Miller was trying to imply. This was the actual authority that took control of Salem.
So, there was my interpretation on some of the views on authority, who had authority in Salem, and what Miller is really trying to imply as the true source of authority. The Crucible by Arthur Miller itself showed the many views of authority. It shows how mankind tends to accuse others just so they won’t be the ones that look bad. However, think about all those victims who suffered because of this. Having authority in a society is needed to hold you all together, but make sure to have authority over yourself first to make the right judgements before it tears you all apart. “I have given you my soul; leave me my name!” (Miller pg. 138)
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