The Crucible


The Crucible: Men of God

 
 
Men of God?

The Crucible by Arthur Miller is a play in which the Red Scare from the 1950's is paralleled to the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. It contains a wonderfully developed plot, which displays society's flaws by establishing a good versus evil scenario. Miller creates characters to fuel the evil and others that evolve to show the outbreak of good. Two of these characters are Reverend Samuel Parris, and Reverend John Hale. These men are the spiritual leaders for two neighboring towns in New England, whom many in the community looked up to. Although the personalities of these "men of God" seemed very similar throughout the first half of the play, self-centered and inhuman, their differences became more evident as Hale evolved into a compassionate man of God, and Parris remained the conceited character he was at the beginning of the play.

In act one, the corrupt, self-serving Reverend Samuel Parris is first introduced. In this scene, Parris' daughter Betty is ill and even the doctor cannot determine what is ailing the girl. Strangely enough, instead of worrying about the fate of his daughter, Reverend Parris seems more concerned about the rumors flying accusing Betty of dealing with the devil, leaving her unconscious. Parris denies all witchcraft accusations, and refuses to believe his household was involved in dealing with the devil. Showing that he is solely consumed with thoughts regarding his reputation, Parris says to his neice, Abigail Williams, "They will topple me with this"(Miller 17). This displays Parris is obviously insecure with his place among the people, and concerned with the effects this event many have on him rather than his daughter. Parris wants to stop the rumors, and therefore calls upon Reverend Hale, a supposed "witch-craft expert" to mediate the controversy surrounding the town of Salem. Parris says, "He's not coming to look for devils" (Miller 28), but most are aware that Hale is coming to find the source of the evil, which will most likely be determined as dealings with the devil.

Another aspect of Parris is also shown in Act 1. Parris is incredibly insecure regarding his standing with the people, and uses his pulpit as a way to satisfy his selfish desires. Parris desired to own property as respected man did in the Puritan community. A way to grant this wish was to obtain the deed to the church, and the house he was given to live in. No pastor in Salem had ever before made a request such as this, and to break the precedent created, Parris used the pulpit as means to attempt to parallel his desires with the word of God. Many in the church interpret this as corruption, and Parris is aware of those that disapprove of his actions when he says, "There is a party in this church. I am not blind; there is a faction and a party" (Miller 32). In the first act, Parris appears to be a selfish self-serving character, far from the God he claims to serve, unfortunately in this act he is not alone.

Further into Act 1, the minister whom Parris has called upon to investigate the situation appears; John Hale. Hale seems to be looking for the same type of attention Parris is, and speaks as though he has been divinely appointed to bring the devil from Betty Parris. Instead of investigating the situation clearly, Hale jumps directly to the cause of witchcraft when told what suspicions had been circling the town. Hale puts on the show everyone wants to see, and says everything they want to hear. What seems peculiar is the fact that instead of examining Betty alone, he turns the bedroom into a stage where his spectacle will take place. Hale says before doing his so-called "tests" on the girl, "If she is truly in the Devil's grip, we may have to rip and tear to get her free" (Miller 41). Throughout the act, Hale threatens and manipulates people into falling into the thought that the Devil was involved here. By the end of the act, Hale convinces Tituba (the slave from Barbados), and other girls involved to confess with regards dealing with the Devil. The act resolves with the girls naming names of random people that they claimed to have seen dealing with the Devil. In Act 1, there are many similar personality traits seen in both Parris