The Concept of Human Nature in "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller and "Othello" by William Shakespeare

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In nature, are humans good or bad? This is the question that philosophers have debated for decades that whether we are good and virtue in nature but is corrupted by the pressure from society or are we basically bad in nature. The concept of human nature can be seen through “The Crucible” written by Arthur Millar and “Othello” written by Williams Shakespeare. Each character from these texts represented some resemblances; having a strong desire to escape from the society and protect their freedom.

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The Crucible is a 1953 play written by Arthur Miller which tells a story of the Salem witch trials that took place in Massachusetts Bay Colony during 1692. The play began when Parris discovered his niece and daughter and other girls dancing naked in the woods. Abigail is the vehicle that drives the play, she was responsible for the girls meeting in the woods and once the truth started to unravel, Abigail blamed on Tituba and others to conceal her behavior, “She sends her spirit on me in church; she makes me laugh at prayer!” Salem was populated by the Puritans who advocated strict religious discipline. The society was a theocracy which suggested that God is the leader of the society and he expressed his true will through his people, men and women. In the Old Testament, God guided his people through Moses; similarly, Salem, was led by a man who was directly connected to God. In Salem society; the leaders lusted after power; and they were the person who made rules. Among those rules, freedom of speech and movement were limited, corrupting basic human nature of the people in Salem and their freedom. The setting of Salem contributed to every action that has occurred. Abigail accused others of witchcraft to protect herself and her freedom from serve punishments of witchcraft and adultery with Proctor. Human’s readiness to defend their freedom is a part of human nature as showed by the character of Abigail, “Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word about the other things, and I will come to in the black of some terrible night”. The quote suggested that Abigail is a rebellious teenager who when caught in this circumstances which stifle her freedom, will fight them and thus break the rules. Abigail’s survival and freedom are at risk and it is said that survival mode is triggered. Survival mode, human will behave in a manner eliminating morality and ethic, Abigail likewise. Abigail sacrificed everything even knowing what is right and what is wrong. However this does not make her a bad person, it is evident from the setting of the play that her virtue is corrupted by the pressure from the society. Her freedom of speech and movement were limited since the first day she was born, the society locked away her freedom. Therefore the society is the rooted caused of this tragedy.

Othello is a tragedy written by Williams Shakespeare in 1603. The tragedy tells a story of a general called Othello who was manipulated by his lieutenant named Lago. As a result of Lago’s manipulation, Othello strangled his own wife to death. The play took place in Venice, a predominantly white society. Through Venetians’ eyes, Othello is a Moor, and every action of his is judged much more intensely than white man’s actions would be. Venetians respect Othello and his military reputation, he earned his position as a general because of his heroism at war and the Venetians needed someone to protect them, however when he married Desdemona, a white Venetian woman, he broke the protocol. Another aspect of the setting, Venice is known for its many prostitutes. While Venetians did not consider Desdemona as a prostitute however for Othello to believe that his wife committed adultery is easier for him as he knows that prostitution is a rampant in Venice and a part of culture she grew up with. The setting contributes to the Lago is undoubtedly the person who drives the play. He manipulated and elaborated lies in order to achieve his goals.

He devoted his whole life to take a revenge on Othello knowing that it was wrong. Lago never express his motive unlike Abigail who did such things for survival. It seemed as if Lago did it for his satisfaction. In Act1 scene 1, he expressed his anger for Othello was passing him over for a promotion, “In personal suit to make me his lieutenant”. He felt as if he deserved the promotion and he also earned it. In some aspects, it seemed as if it was Lago’s thirst for power that drove him to do such things however later on, he suggested that Othello had an infidelity with his wife, Emilia, “I hate the Moor. And it is thought abroad that twixt my sheets as done my office”. This suggested that Othello had done Lago’s job as a husband on his sheets which further suggested that it may be jealousy that drove him however in some aspects, it seemed as if he was plain evil like Samuel Coleridge suggested that his behavior was a “motiveless malignity” which described his sense of resentment and bitterness at being forgotten by his wife or being denied in power and his rightful sense of happiness. Lago is the opposite to Abigail, it seemed as if Lago was basically born to be bad. Throughout the whole play, Lago never expressed his motive, making it impossible to determine whether his virtue was corrupted by his hunger for power or an affair between his wife and Othello.

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