Within most works of literature and storytelling, there will always be conflict with eventual resolution. A shining example of such being The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, which details the brutal nature of the Puritan’s superstitious witch hunts in Salem as an allegory for McCarthyism. This play follows a variety of characters, each presented with their own conflicts, predominantly the conflicts being those of man versus society and man versus man. Most of the conflicts in Miller’s play resolve in extremely macabre methods. Major conflicts in the play that become resolved are Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor have a conflict of man versus man when Abigail attempts to remove Elizabeth so she can have John Proctor instead, Reverend Hale displays a conflict of man versus self when he questions his faith and profession once he evaluates his beliefs in his occupation, and Tituba, Parris’ slave from Barbados, demonstrates the conflict of man versus society when she is accused of dancing with the devil.
Reverend John Hale, a devout Christian, is a young minister who devoted his life to studying witchcraft and how to eradicate it in the name of God. Hale is invited by Reverend Paris to Salem to investigate the rumors of witchcraft circulating throughout the town.. However, his entire point of view begins to crumble under the weight of his self-doubt in his crusade against the “witches” of Salem. Hale’s conflict mainly arises in his own conscience in an example of man versus self whilst being intensified by the overbearing village of Salem calling for blood and presenting evidence at face value. Initially, Hale appears to be successfully removing the threat of witchcraft from Salem when he gets Tituba to confess to dancing with the devil and allegedly “curing” her.
Later on however, Hale reluctantly expresses doubt in his work and himself when he converses with John Proctor over the possibility of the girl’s claims of witchcraft being intentionally false. When Proctor inquires, “And why not, if they must hang for denyin’ it? There are them that will swear to anything before they’ll hang; have you never thought of that?” Hale responds with, I – I have indeed. It is his own suspicion, but he resists it. He glances at Elizabeth, then at John.
” (Miller 74). With this admittance of doubt the cracks in Hale’s ideology slowly begin to surface and resolves when Hale eventually has had enough of the trial’s violation of human rights. When Mary Warren accuses John Proctor of witchcraft Hale finally breaks down and openly shows his detest for what he and the courts have done to the victims of the trials by declaring, “I denounce these proceedings. I quit this court!” (Miller 122).
Reverend John Hale resolves his conflict of man versus self and sought repentance through his his acts of attempting to clear the Proctor’s name of witchcraft.With mob mentality in human nature it is obvious there would be a conflict of man versus society within the play. Tituba, a slave of Reverend Parris from Barbados, is the first scapegoat of Salem to find a culprit for the rumored witchcraft in the town. When Tituba, Abigail, and the other girls are discovered dancing in the woods and practicing satanic rituals, Abigail accuses Tituba of orchestrating the rituals and bewitching Betty and the other girls. In a moment of pure desperation, Abigail proclaims, ” Sometimes I wake and find myself standing in the open doorway and not a stitch on my body! I always hear her laughing in my sleep. I hear her singing her Barbados songs and tempting me with—” (Miller 50). The play hints that the practices displayed by Tituba, referred to as black magic, were brought on by Abigail manipulating Tituba into doing so for her own selfish needs. With the following outrage directed towards her and the possibility of being hanged, Tituba reluctantly confesses to the accusations stating, TITUBA, terrified, falls to her knees: No, no, don’t hang Tituba! I tell him I don’t desire to work for him, sir.
” (Miller 50). When Tituba does this, her conflict of man versus society resolves partially due to Reverend Hale offering her asylum in exchange for her admittance to the culprits of witchcraft. With Reverend Hale’s assistance, Tituba eventually shifts the focus off of herself and onto those that she and the other girls accused of “being with the devil.
” However, in the play that did not mean that the persecution from man versus society subsided but instead shifted to those accused of witchcraft such as Elizabeth Proctor.John Proctor, an upstanding citizen and husband of Elizabeth Proctor, has a major arc centered on the broken marriage between him and his wife for a variety of factors. The major conflict of man versus man however, is between Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor. Abigail was a major contributing factor to the problems in the Proctor’s marriage due to previously working for the Proctors and being discovered in having an affair with John . Due to this, Abigail and Elizabeth openly detest each other. Abigail, in her disdain for Elizabeth sought out Tituba to try to place a curse on Elizabeth so she could have John to herself.
When Abigail is caught doing so, she and the other girls involved start falsely accusing others of being with the devil, namely Abigail used this opportunity to set up a devious plan in order to separate the Proctors by eventually accusing Elizabeth of witchcraft. Abigail even pretends that Elizabeth’s spirit attacked her by sticking her with a needle. This act is presented by Cheever stating, “The girl, the Williams girl, Abigail Williams, sir. She sat to dinner in Reverend Parris’s house tonight, and without word nor warnin’ she falls to the floor… And he goes to save her, and, stuck two inches in the flesh of her belly, he draw a needle out… she—to Proctor now—testify it were your wife’s familiar spirit pushed it in.
” (Miller 80). While Abigail builds up a case against Elizabeth, suddenly the accusation of witchcraft shifts over to John Proctor. Realizing her plan had failed and that she had condemned John Proctor to hang, Abigail steals from Reverend Parris and flees Salem as stated by Parris to Danforth, “Excellency, I think they be aboard a ship. Danforth stands agape. My daughter tells me how she heard them speaking of ships last week, and tonight I discover my—my strongbox is broke into.” (Miller 128). The conflict between Elizabeth Proctor and Abigail Williams finally resolves when Abigail flees Salem permanently after causing John Proctor to hang.The Crucible, by Arthur Miller portrays many conflicts and resolutions.
Man versus man is displayed in the Case of Abigail trying and failing to get rid of Elizabeth Proctor, man versus society is displayed in the case of Tituba facing and eventually evading the claims of witchcraft, and man versus self is portrayed in the case of Reverend Hale doubting and eventually changing his beliefs in himself and his faith. Man versus man was resolved for Elizabeth when Abigail fled, man versus society was resolved when Tituba confessed to witchcraft and found asylum with Reverend Hale, and man versus self was resolved when Reverend Hale gained the courage to change his beliefs and not take the given evidence at face-value. Since the play is an allegory for McCarthyism, the play shares similar conflicts to those of the Second Red scare in which many were falsely accused of being communists. For this, Arthur Miller masterfully displays many of the possible conflicts in literature while still finding connections to other significant events.