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What “the Crucible” Can Teach Us About Life

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Essay title: What “the Crucible” Can Teach Us About Life

What does the term “crucible” mean? A “crucible is a dish that tests the melting point of certain metals. In the play “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller, a community is being tested for it’s sanity and morality by the hysteria caused by the Salem witch trails. Though the majority of the community is caught up in the hysteria, there are a few individuals who refuse to be sucked in-Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor, and Reverend Hale, each having very different personalities and each gaining insight from their experiences. Insight, an instance of understanding the true nature of something, sometimes through intuitive understanding, may either be positive or negative. In the cases of Elizabeth Proctor and John Proctor, their insight would be considered positive. The same can not be said with Reverend Hale, though. The insight he gained was some-what negative, but all three characters were most definitely changed by their newly found knowledge.

Elizabeth Proctor, the wife of John Proctor, gained insight about herself more personal matters. The first gained insight was about her John Proctor, her husband. Before her husband was to be hanged, Reverend Hale and Reverend Parris pleaded with her to try to persuade John to confess his witchery. During their last intimate moments together, Elizabeth confessed to holding a “cold house” (137). Elizabeth realized that she should have acted more loving towards John, which would have added “warmth” to the house, when she had the chance. She also realized that she if she had not acted so cold toward John, he would not have committed adultery with Abigail Williams, her housemaid. Elizabeth Proctor also gained insight about John Proctor himself. During their last conversation together, John asks Elizabeth what he should do-confess and have his life, or die and have his integrity. Elizabeth, wanting him alive but also wanting him to do the right thing, decides not to direct his decision, but let him make his own. At first he decides to confess, but then changes his mind and decides to be hanged. Though deeply grieved by John’s death, she had much respect for his decision because it showed his goodness. She was able to see his determination to do the right thing, and also his loyalty to his friends. Elizabeth also learned of John’s love and respect for her, because he asked for her forgiveness and her advice during his last hours. Although it took something as painful and dramatic as her husband’s death, Elizabeth was able to admit her faults, forgive herself and her husband, and accept the consequences. She had to make big sacrifices for her gained insight.

Reverend Hale, a young minister reputed to be an expert on witchcraft, gained insight about people in general, and their ways of thinking. The first insight he gained was about the way the laws revolving around witchery. Towards the end of the play, Reverend Hale is trying to confess Judge Danforth that John Proctor is innocent, and when no one will listen to him, he decides to quit the court. He realized that the judges, Judge Danforth and Judge Hathorne, were being very stubborn about the whole situation. For example, when people brought in evidence to prove Martha Corey, Rebecca Nurse, and Elizabeth Proctor’s innocence, Judge Danforth says, “a person is either with this court, or he must be counted against it, there be no road between” (94). Reverend Hale realized that all the hysteria caused by the witch trials was completely frivolous. He also realized that the hysteria had caused everyone to turn against the innocent, and that the laws enforced were absurd. Reverend Hale also gained insight about his moral priorities. After Abigail and the girls started accusing innocent people, Reverend Hale decided to go around to each house and interrogate each of the family members. For example, he asked Elizabeth Proctor whether or not she believed in witches and she said if he thought she was one, then there are no such things as witches. Reverend Hale realized that, even though he wanted to be right about the existence of witches, he knew that

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