Term Paper: Arthur Miller's the Crucible

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¶ … Crucible by Arthur Miller [...] whether justice was denied to those accused during the Salem Witch trials. The characters in "The Crucible" who go to court expect fair justice against the false accusations by some vindictive members of the community. However, what they find is not justice at all, but rather superstition, fear, and "spectral evidence" that only clouds the judicial system and creates injustice and unfairness. The court in "The Crucible" does not give justice to the accused, and they suffer the ultimate fate because the court cannot see past superstition and false accusation.

At the heart of this story is the 17th century justice system and how belief systems, superstition, and religion blended to corrupt the system and condemn innocent victims. At first, Reverend Hale has complete and utter faith in the justice system. He advises Francis Nurse not to worry, that his wife, Rebecca, will be vindicated by the court. He says, "Let you rest upon the justice of the court; the court will send her home, I know it" (Miller 67). Yet, at the end of the Third Act, Hale's ideas have changed dramatically. He says, "I denounce these proceedings, I quit this court" (Miller 111) in an entire turnaround of his previous trust in justice and the law. He has seen the court taken in by a vindictive child, and he understands the law is not infallible, and neither is justice in this court. Famous literary critic Harold Bloom states, "At bottom Abby knows that her prophetic fit is self-induced, that the witchcraft she denounces is non-existent; but once the fit is on her, she can produce a convincing performance and induce the same kind of hysteria in the children" (Bloom 43). Thus, the court bases its opinion on hearsay, there is no solid evidence other than the testimony of the supposed possessed against other "witches." This is not justice, it is hearsay, and basing a legal decision on hearsay is the worst form of legal perversion and injustice.

Indeed, critic Bloom notes that the entire theme of this play is perversion of the law, as well. He continues, "Miller, in the Crucible, deals with the perversion of the Law in the township of Salem and, by extension, with a persistent threat to any democratic system" (Bloom 39). While the play may be a moral commentary on law and justice, the theme is intertwined with religious beliefs and superstition as well. Judges of the time ruled by the word of the Bible, rather than study and contemplation of the legality of their decisions, as noted below. The Bible's word was the final word, and it was difficult to appeal what the judges felt was Biblical law and spiritual guidance.

If only considering the facts of the play, which are based on historical characters and documents, it is easier to see how the courts could and would rule for witchcraft. The pious Puritans of the day took the Devil and his powers seriously, and it was entirely possible to them that the Devil could (and would) bewitch… [END OF PREVIEW]

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