Puritans arrived in America during 1600’s. Their agenda, as always, was to establish a ‘nation under God’ (Finley). Puritans were collective conservative Christians who passionately believed that what they were doing was a divine imperative. They wanted transformation within the system and believed that they had the destiny to enact political change who (Finley).
Puritans were not only focused on their personal relationship to God, but they also indulged themselves politically and socially to make things “under His Kingdom.” The story of “The Crucible” shows how the authorities in Salem strictly attach themselves to Puritan religion to fulfill their divine duties. The story also presents how the characters used their individual freedom to empower and save their reputation.
After learning that the alleged cause of the children’s seizures and hallucination was witchcraft, a massive hysteria broke in the community. The community got out of balance. The authority who was believed to be a divine sanction and did God’s work immediately rolled into action. Huge witch trials took place. Since witchcraft was believed to be a communion with the devil and considered an ultimate sin, the punishment for the guilty will be death. The government as a Puritan wanted to “purify” the community of Salem through eliminating the devil worship.
The massive investigation of the witchcraft caused the community of Salem to be even more divided than it already was. Repressive grudges were exposed. The division confronted their personal issues with other individuals. Innocent people became a candidate of wrong accusations. It was a colossal battle between men. Wrong accusations became a cliché. Everybody was a potential witch.
Individual freedom in “The Crucible” was presented through confession. Characters such as Abigail and Tituba used the given power to speak to uplift their identity in the story. They took advantage of their given freedom to speak. .
The freedom given to Abigail gave restrictions to Proctor’s freedom to reveal the truth about her. He did not want to compromise the truth that Abigail became his mistress. He might be a candidate of witchcraft since the court assessed character of each individual according to Christian standard. Hale used his power as an opinion leader as well. He was reputed to be a witch craft expert .He clearly enjoyed being called to Salem because it made him feel like an expert (Douthat and Ward).
The characters took advantage of and abused their individual freedom. Dialogues of the characters boast their knowledge about Christian standard, but only Proctor’s goodness and honesty in the end justified the real Christian standard. His principle separates him from the rest of the accused. His unwillingness to sign his name to the confession results in part from his desire not to dishonor his fellow prisoners’ decisions to stand firm (Douthat and Ward). He made the choice to do what was right even if it means his destruction.
There was an obvious conformity of decision. The fear to make their own choice restricted the characters to use their God given individual freedom. However, those characters who were given the opportunity abused it for their selfish desires and intention. There were too many characters to mention, but Proctor stood out because of his honesty. The witch trials were harsh, but the choice to follow the real preference of Christianity was still a choice. In the end, the community became more imbalanced because of their wrong choices.
They abused their power. They started to be autocratic to defend themselves from destruction. For example, the court later realized that they made a mistake in hanging the suspected witches. They understood that they arrested suspected innocents. Nevertheless, they cannot stop the punishment to the remaining prisoners because their credibility as divine servants of God was at stake. There was a struggle of power. They became authoritative. They forced Proctor to make false accusations with the remaining prisoners to give them reasons to hang them as well (Douthat and Ward).
All in all, the characters in the story were too protective with their reputation and they abuse their freedom of choice. They were so attached to the authority as well. They forgot to check their level of ignorance when it comes to Christian standard. As I observed, ignorance sometimes restrict the characters to be totally free. As a result, their choices were limited.
Douthat, Ross and Selena Ward. “Act IV–Epilogue.” In SparkNote on The Crucible. 2008. 3
October 2008 <http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/crucible/section6.rhtml>.
Finley, Gavin. “Puritan History; Past, Present and Future.”End Time Pilgrim. 2003
September. 3 October 2008 <http://endtimepilgrim.org/puritans.htm>