The Crucible: a Time of Trouble and Despair, the Salem Trials, Characters Suffer Internal Conflicts


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The Crucible

Internal Conflicts

The Crucible written by Arthur Miller is a play that takes place in the 1690s during the famous but tragic Salem witch trials. The entire community is in pandemonium yet certain characters are also fighting internal conflicts of their own. Miller uses three characters that manifest this internal battle ever so clearly. Such as Mary Warren, whose whole personality turns upside down, John Proctor, who contemplates between the importance of his family and his own name, and Reverend Hale, who battles with himself whether to carry out his job requirements or do what he knows is right.

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Mary Warren is a shy girl who is forced with this inner turmoil throughout this play. At the outset of the play, she is perceived to be a very shy girl who will never speak her mind as shown when Proctor sends her home and she responds with, Im just going home. (21). As the play continues ands as she is influenced by Abigail, Mary begins to break this self-induced mold and does what she wants. Mary, along with many other girls get caught up in the hype of getting all the attention and exercising power via initiating and adamantly continuing these witch trials. Finally, Proctor, the rationalist, shows that when people like Rebecca Nurse and Elizabeth Proctor, who are the saintliest of people are accused of being witches, something must be wrong. Mary Warren has a difficult decision to make. She has realized that her whole way of life has been based on injustice. However, how can she extricate herself from Abigail and her friends not to mention her new feelings of c!

onfidence. Mary decides to speak out against Abigail and the others for their false accusations and said that she tried to kill me numerous times.(57). Yet, as she does this heroic act of overcoming her old reality, Abigail pretends that Mary is a witch using the poppets against her. Mary is faced with yet another grueling internal conflict: to do what she knows is right and probably die for it, or to return to her old ways. Mary succumbs to Abigails hypnosis and accuses John Proctor of forcing her to lie. Clearly the battle, which Mary faced from the very beginning, was enormous.

John Proctor, a farmer and village commoner, similarly is faced with an inner turmoil. He has committed lechery and has absolutely no intentions of joining in the witch trials unless his pregnant wife was to get involved also. John feels that he couldnt accept this. Proctor is a good and noble man and because of this he believes at first he cant be hanged and die a martyr when he has this sin blooming over him every waking moment. John later says to Elizabeth that, My honesty is broke, Elizabeth; I am no good man. Nothings spoiled by giving them this lie that were not rotten long before (136) and rather confess than die for something he flat out didnt do. However, as John confesses, he cannot allow Danforth to make it officially documented. As Danforth asks him why, John answers with a cry, Because it is my name. Because I cannot have another in my lifehow may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name (143). John feels strongly abou!

t a good name and not dying with a bad one. Proctor weights both sides of his internal conflict and realizes that he must not make another mistake. He therefore prescribes himself to death, not for his own sake, but rather for the sake of the others. As John dies, Elizabeth weeps saying, He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it away (145).

Another internal conflict is evident in Reverend Hale who initiates these problems. At first, Hale is sure about his belief that there are witches and feels that he is carrying out the desires of God himself. Yet as the play moves on and Hale sees all these honest and good people being sentenced and executed, he too sees an inner conflict. He contemplates whether to do what he is sent to do, listen to Danforth, or listen to his own conscience and denounce these proceedings as unjust and wrong. Hale decides to help out all the wrongfully accused people by encouraging them to confess and save themselves from these false proceedings. Hale attempts to repent his own sins by trying to make people confess by saying I have come to do the devils work. I have come to counsel Christians they should believe in themselvescan you not see the blood on my head (131). Hale overcomes his turmoil by following the truth he knew in his heart of hearts. Yet he is counseling people to !

prevail upon your husband and confess and says God dams a liar less than he that throws his life away for pride (133) and convinces people to lie, which is against his religion, and considered a moral sin. But he decides that earthly life is a greater gift than eternal life.

Everybody throughout their lives are faced with inner conflicts. One must make a decision based on what they think is right and true. These three characters probably just faced the most important decision of their lives. Whether right or wrong, they went with what they thought was the right decision within their hearts. For instance, Mary Warren made the decision that felt right to her in her heart, as did Reverend Hale and John Proctor. But one thing is sure in anyones heart and that is that earthly life is a far greater gift than eternal life.

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