The Affect Of Power In The Play The Crucible

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Power doesn’t corrupt people, people corrupt power (William Gaddis). Puritanism was a powerful religious, social, and political order in New England colonial life. In a Puritan society, humans wanted to reform the Christian church and believed that the devil had servants that worked for him on Earth.

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Arthur Millerr’s play, The Crucible, explains the persecution of persons falsely accused of being witches in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. The play portrays power and how that power shifts among the characters. It shows which characters have power and how power can overtake people causing them to abuse it for material gain, self-preservation, or revenge. Two minor characters, Samuel Parris and Thomas Putnam, acquire power; one desperate to keep it and one hungers for more.

Power and authority are the epitome of this Patriarchal Society where men control all: wives, children, servants, courts, and the church. Reverend Samuel Parris holds an important position of authority and places himself even higher than others in the community. He is a weak man, obsessed with power and control, and throughout the play is only concerned with his reputation and money. When challenged, especially by John Proctor, Parris resents this opposition and reminds others that Proctor does not attend church on a regular basis; therefore, his opinion doesn’t matter about reforms to the church. Proctor, a well-respected man in the community, is quick to point out that he dislikes Parris sermons because [he] hardly even mention[s] God any more (Miller 27). Parris is supposed to be a man of the Lord and live a simple life, but his materialistic demands on the community continue throughout the play. Using his religious position, Parris assumes that his newly made contract will support and maintain firewood to last him a lifetime. Much to his dismay, Parris is met with constant opposition and wonders why he cannot offer one proposition but there be a howling riot of argument (Miller 28). Proctor reminds Parris that his salary is sixty-six pounds, including six for firewood. When Parris expresses the need for new, gold candlesticks, Proctor once again openly disagrees and is adamant that he will not attend church in a place where he preach nothin but golden candlesticks until he had them (Miller 62). Parris fear of being put out like the cat, relieving him of his position in Salem, push him to demand the deed to his current residence (Miller 28).

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