Arthur Miller, The Crucible

avon

Forum Staff
May 2008
14,253
#11
Over being used and cast aside, as well as justified in her desire to have what other possess.
Having thought about this on and off for most of the day, no. Abigail's initial actions were exigencies to the circumstances. At the opening, she claimed to have done nothing, then her story was that the girls simply danced (dancing was only a whipping offence), then, and only after Tituba's 'confession' did her actions begin to take on some form of retributive aims. Still then were those actions gradual. I would describe her position as cumulatively radicalising, but she was not the initiator. It take her a while before she seriously begins to manipulate the situation; even after that point, she still - to a good degree - is reacting to the situation.

The question of justification also seems to me to have connotations of 'good' and 'bad'. Is Abigail the villain of the piece? Again, I would have to say no. Given that she is driven along by circumstance, I would think the villain would have to superstition and communal competitiveness (hence the cumulative radicalising of the accusations).

Am I reading the question correctly?


edit: Did you know that in actuality, Williams was eleven years old and Proctor nearly sixty, an unlikely pair—even by seventeenth-century standards. Its not important to thread, but it does no harm!!
 
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okamido

Forum Staff
Jun 2009
29,885
land of Califia
#12
Having thought about this on and off for most of the day, no. Abigail's initial actions were exigencies to the circumstances. At the opening, she claimed to have done nothing, then her story was that the girls simply danced (dancing was only a whipping offence), then, and only after Tituba's 'confession' did her actions begin to take on some form of retributive aims. Still then were those actions gradual. I would describe her position as cumulatively radicalising, but she was not the initiator. It take her a while before she seriously begins to manipulate the situation; even after that point, she still - to a good degree - is reacting to the situation.

The question of justification also seems to me to have connotations of 'good' and 'bad'. Is Abigail the villain of the piece? Again, I would have to say no. Given that she is driven along by circumstance, I would think the villain would have to superstition and communal competitiveness (hence the cumulative radicalising of the accusations).

Am I reading the question correctly?
Definately. I had to throw something out in an attempt to spur discussion. ;)
I do have to slightly disagree with Abigail as the villain. While in the beginning she did attempt to be truthful and only took to the "witchcraft excuse" opportunistically, as the story makes its' progression, malice seems to become the overriding motivation, thus, at least in my mind, she truly becomes a villain.


edit: Did you know that in actuality, Williams was eleven years old and Proctor nearly sixty, an unlikely pair—even by seventeenth-century standards. Its not important to thread, but it does no harm!!
Absolutely. Miller definately took liberties with the historical record in order to make his point.
 

avon

Forum Staff
May 2008
14,253
#13
I do have to slightly disagree with Abigail as the villain. While in the beginning she did attempt to be truthful and only took to the "witchcraft excuse" opportunistically, as the story makes its' progression, malice seems to become the overriding motivation, thus, at least in my mind, she truly becomes a villain.

Indeed, I could agree with that. But then, the overriding superstitions and all-round competitiveness (to my mind, at least) rewarded her 'confession' and encouraged her to make accusations. The more accused those around her, the higher the townsfolk came to regard her. In that sense, I see her as being picked up by circumstance and carried by events. She did little more than many others would have done. For instance, in Act I (?), the exchange between Giles and Hale:
GILES: Martha, my wife. I have waked at night many a time and found her in a corner, readin' of a book. Now what do you make of that?
HALE: Why, that not necessarily -
GILES: It discomforts me! Last night - mark this - I tried and tried and could not say my prayers. And then she close her book and walks out of the house, and suddenly - mark this - I could pray again!
 

okamido

Forum Staff
Jun 2009
29,885
land of Califia
#14
You have to admire the way the Giles "cowboy'd up" towards the end of the play though. Not wishing to give a name, he is found in contempt and tortured unto death.

The historic Giles was tough as feaking nails. By not entering a plea to his supposedly being a warlock, he makes a protest against the actions of the court. Also, without a plea, he cannot be convicted and the State cannot confiscate his lands and properties. Several days of continually added weight...you would have to be determined in order to go out that way.
 
Oct 2008
4,309
The Bright Center of the Universe
#15
A great play, one of my favourites.

One thing that has kind of bothered me however. The character of Thomas Putnman uses the trails to increase his wealth and remove the owners of land he wanted to buy. How does this translate into the McArthy Trials? I don't recall reading about anyone using those trials to further their carerr or wealth. Was this supposed to translate or did Miller put it in there for the sake of the story?
 

okamido

Forum Staff
Jun 2009
29,885
land of Califia
#16
A great play, one of my favourites.

One thing that has kind of bothered me however. The character of Thomas Putnman uses the trails to increase his wealth and remove the owners of land he wanted to buy. How does this translate into the McArthy Trials? I don't recall reading about anyone using those trials to further their carerr or wealth. Was this supposed to translate or did Miller put it in there for the sake of the story?
I don't believe that aspect had any allegory to HUAC. The truth of the matter is, the Salem township was at war with itself before the trials began to take place. The character of Putnam, while being a real person that lived in Salem at the time, was actually a composite for the play. His character was meant to show other motives outside of Abigail and Proctor, or mass-hysteria. Unfortunately, a great deal of what happened in Salem was based off of personal grudges and the desire to get even with their neighbors.
 

davu

Ad Honorem
Jun 2010
4,078
Retired - This Mountain isn't on a Map
#18
kind of puts a different light on the "founding fathers" -- so to speak -- if this is how they acted in the "new" world -- have to look up information of how they "acted" in the "old world" --

just a thought -- there should at least be several additions to the book "what my teachers - if they even knew - didn't tell me"


edit --- now i remember something i saw -- wow -- the brain moved with this one ---- the movie "silas marner" -- that shook me up over "religion"
 

okamido

Forum Staff
Jun 2009
29,885
land of Califia
#19
-- if this is how they acted in the "new" world -- have to look up information of how they "acted" in the "old world" --
How they all acted in the New World is relative to the freedom they now possessed, away from the persecution of the Old World. It also answers a question in the Religion subforum that asks why the United States still holds a huge religious population, while Europe is semmingly turning secular. It is because that is how it was founded, and a partial reason why people, partially, may still immigrate here. After the economic equation that is. ;)
 

davu

Ad Honorem
Jun 2010
4,078
Retired - This Mountain isn't on a Map
#20
did pick up two books about medieval times -- probably will have a lot to do with this subject


"a history of medieval heresy and inquisition"
"witchcraft in europe 400-1700"

should be interesting reading -- all of this falls right in the middle of the templar thing and the crusades --

must have been one crazy mixedup world --- :suspicious:
 

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