Symbolism in the Crucible
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What does The Poppet, John Proctor and Witchcraft?
Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose. In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, it focuses on chaos of the Salem Witch Trials. In the play, young Abigail Williams had an affair with her former employee, John Proctor. As a result, John’s wife, Elizabeth, fired Abby thus placing a wedge between the married couple. Abigail, not one to be scorned, set out to make matters right. She decided that Elizabeth had to pay and that John had to be hers. In doing so, she began to cry witch against anyone that stood in her way and many people suffered greatly because of it. In Miller’s play, he used the voodoo doll, Elizabeth’s pregnancy, and Giles’ death to symbolize a deeper meaning throughout the play. How could so much innocence cause so much tension? Mary Warren, an admirable, selfless young woman, spent countless hours making a poppet doll for Goody Proctor, a cold-blooded woman herself. The voodoo poppet doll became a gesture of evil. When Abigail saw Mary Warren making the doll, her cruel intentions were to accuse her of witchcraft. Why I made it in court, sir, and give give it to Goody Proctor tonight (Miller 1177). Mary was Abigail’s pawn in this unknowing act in court and tried to justify that she did not put the needle in the stomach of the doll to hurt Elizabeth. At this point, officers of the court arrive at the Proctor farm with an arrest warrant for Elizabeth on the charge of witchcraft. They search the house for poppets (dolls) and find the one Mary gave to Elizabeth. They discover a pin in its stomach and take it for proof that Abigail’s stomach pains are the result of Elizabeth’s witchcraft (Sundstrand 5). Not only did Mary’s actions produce tension in the play, but Elizabeth was accused of witchcraft which led her to fight for her right in Act IV. All in all, no good deed goes unpunished during the Salem Trials. He-ro noun: a person admired for achievements and noble qualities; one who shows great courage; the principal character in a literary or dramatic work used specifically of a principal male character especially when contrasted with heroine (Hero 1).
By the dictionary definition, Giles Corey was the true definition of a hero. Corey was a fearless and bold man for his family. Before any witch trials began, he and his wife, Martha Corey, were happily married. Although they thought nothing could go wrong, everything went wrong. Martha was reading strange books and withheld them from Giles. He stated that her books retained him from praying. As can be seen, witchcraft dominated the couple and Martha is accused of witchcraft. Once Giles had comprehended what had occurred, he plead for his wife to be discharged. While trying to save his wife, Giles ends up in court himself after refusing to confess. He was promised clemency. “I will not give you no name. I mentioned my wife’s name once and I’ll burn in hell long enough for that. I stand mute” (Miller 1196). The hot eleven pounds of burning stones symbolize the weight of Salem’s sins since he did not plea in court. Although Giles did not want to speak of his wife, he was an idol himself for compelling his existence courageously for his wife, his companions, and his relatives. The harrowing scene in which heavy stones are laid on a stubborn old man named Giles Corey until he dies under their weight is more harrowing still in an eyewitness account: Present-day Salem folk acted as extras in the film, and the cast found them both amusing [“I have the original rock that crushed Giles Corey in my driveway,” mimics Bruce Davison] and a tad chilling (Gates 76). Although he did not plead in court, his heart was desired to take his life with heated stones for his family. He turned from an average man to a genuine, honorable individual in the Salem Witch Trials. In Act III, Proctor stated, But if she say she is pregnant, then she must be! That woman will never lie, Mr. Danforth (Miller 1193). Elizabeth was known as a trustworthy person; a lie had only come out once to save her husband’s life. John Proctor, Elizabeth’s vain husband, is asked many questions about Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Although John conveyed that Elizabeth was pregnant, there was no certainty that she was during this period of hysteria.
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Danforth offered her a month to let her pregnancy symptoms produce. Luckily, she was pregnant and the court decided to let her live for a year. Elizabeth’s pregnancy symbolized that there will be hope for the near future. Hellman stated, “We see here that the aforerumored pregnancy of Elizabeth Proctor is a reality; John Proctor’s name, live or die, will continue most immediately with this new child” (Hellman 9). John was a loving and caring man through thick and thin. He would have done anything for his reputation and name to remain the same. John Proctor will be known as a legend if his name follows through. He knew that if he confessed, his child would develop a cherished new life in the next generation. Given these points, The Crucible, had a small amount of symbolism, but they all had a profound meaning behind them. The process of accusing Elizabeth of witchcraft led to her pregnancy, which postponed her confession time by a year. In Salem, dolls were known as evil, but in today’s society dolls are acknowledged as gifts and joy for children. Be that as it may, Mary’s kindness made Goody Proctor a poppet doll, she was accused of witchcraft in return. Although Corey did not plead in court, he wanted to keep his land and his life, but there was no choice at that point of witchcraft. The torturing, hot-pressed stones took his life with in a blink of an eye. Overall, Miller’s choice of symbols was conducted well in the format of the play.