Religion is strict with its limitations; a matter often destroying the specific constructive liberal structures of the society. Although it is not considered detrimental, the extensive rules that religion often imposes create more harm than good to its members. With such strict commandments, the response of the people were rather common; to hide secrets, to deal with matters in a hypocritical manner, presenting themselves clean when they actually are doing something else behind the back of the church’s knowing. Among the primary characters who could be noted for such consideration of the church’s laws include John Proctor and Reverend John Hale.
John Proctor is the husband of Elizabeth Proctor. A simple farmer who tends to his land, John was seemingly an ordinary man following by the laws and the principles of the church. He presents himself as a zealous follower of the church (Abbotson, 2005). He has developed a particular attitude towards hypocritical individuals, especially those who are working within the church themselves. He shows through his language that he is in distaste of such individuals through using harsh words when addressing them. However, John himself has a secret; a matter that could ruin his reputation. He has an affair with Abigail Williams, the reverend’s niece. He remains quiet about anything that he knows about Abigail Williams especially that of her being a fraud, in the hope of protecting his own name. It is noted through the narrative that Proctor hates hypocrisy, his strong dismissal of the idea could be shown through his relative reaction to the people around him, who he knows have something kept for themselves; facts they may not want to share with those they mingle with (Blakesly, 1992). However, he himself is a hypocrite. Knowing that he has something kept in secret, Proctor’s careful handling of the situation could be seen as to how much protection he gives to Abigail. In a way, he simply uses the hate towards hypocrisy as a mere cover up to his own misunderstanding of the concept of honesty and transparency. In a way, many among individuals at present are just like Proctor; they often find it easier to conceal themselves by faking a façade that they think would keep them off the grid of the critics that they hope would never find out their secrets.
Meanwhile, Reverend John Hale is a young minister of the church. He does his duties to the church as zealously as possible. Being an expert in witchcraft, he was called in to examine those who were accused of being witches. He was strongly convinced that what he was doing at first was right. His critical thinking suggests that such killings where necessary. However, in the end, he admits his mistake and hopes he could do something more for those accused with witchcraft. At the said point, he realizes that everyone else sins and everyone else is accounted for his own self. His supposed cleanness is nothing different with others, especially those who are simply accused of the atrocity of being a witch and practicing the craft as part of their daily lives. It is through this scope of the story’s character presentation that particular themes have been given attention to. In the story, the differentiating theme of intolerance and hypocrisy has been given attention to. Observably, the church, strict with its rules and specific with its principles, has created a society that is judgmental especially when one commits something that is not under the limiting laws provided by the church. Religion is a primary element that establishes the overall context of the story (Bloom, 2008). It is presented more like a machine that dictates how the human individuals should live their lives; how they should decide on matters and how they should consider themselves to be worthy of being called as members of the church. With such state of control, the church was able to make sure that each person would conform with its laws (Miller, 1992). It was as if the people existed to live within the constraints of religion and make sure that other members of the church also do the same. This aspect of the story could be defined under the distinct presentation of how the church [in the story] intended to turn matters around and make sure that the society it is involved with become purified through the annihilation of the ‘witches’[individuals or group of individuals who were suspected to practice the art of witchcraft; an act strongly denied by the church]. With such strict guidelines, people allegedly suspected as witches are killed, some even burned to death to be able to show the society what could happen if they choose to go against the laws of the church. Reverend Hale, being the representation of the Church supposedly believed that the truth backing his actions up were real, however in the end, he realizes the mistakes he has taken into account, he begins to accept the wrongness of the path he has chosen to take.
Taking from this particular reading, it could be understood that religion and hypocrisy often go hand-in-hand. People who want to be accepted simply keep themselves out of the limelight, trying to hide whatever it is that they cannot give up in support of the principles and the laws that the church implies. This same idealism specifically questions the real value of religions existing in the society today.
Abbotson, Susan C. W. 2005. Masterpieces of 20th-century American Drama. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
Blakesley, Maureen. 1992. The Crucible, a Play in Four Acts. Heinemann Plays ser. Oxford: Heinemann.
Bloom, Harold. 2008. Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Chelsea House.
Miller, Arthur. 1992. "A Note on the Historical Accuracy of the Play." In Blakesley (1992, xvii).
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