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Ironies in The Crucible

1. The Pilgrims escaped Europe because of religious persecution only to set up a repressive, intolerant, insular and theocratic society that thrives on persecution.

2. The hunt was originally a hunt for the devil — yet the devil was in the hunt itself. The greatest crimes are those committed by the hunter (the authorities) not the hunted. The only real evidence of witchcraft is in the camp of Parris, yet his opponents become the scapegoats.

3. You cannot mount a defence against witchcraft. Any defence you raise is seen as subversion, undermining the efforts of the courts. If you try to defend yourself you must be guilty. The only way to prove your innocence and save yourself is to confess your guilt.

4. Lies are accepted as truth and truth is disposed of as undermining the authority of the court.  Danforth’s ironic words: “I will not deal in lies, Mister”

5. The concept of one’s name In a close knit insular community your name was vital to your acceptance in the community.

Parris: “Since I am come to Salem, this man, (Proctor) is blackening my name

Abigail: “my name is good in the village! I will not have it be said.. that my name is soiled”

Mary Warren: “My name, he wants my name

John Proctor: Casts away his good name to save Elizabeth to no avail: “A man will not cast away good name” I have made a bell of my honour, I have rung the doom of my good name.”

Elizabeth lies to save John’s good name: “She only thought to save my good name”

John Proctor: Eventually tears up his confession: “Because it is my name.. ..I have given you my soul; leave me my name”

6. Power of silence over language: Both Giles Corey and John Proctor wield more power by not speaking than they do by all their protestations. Perhaps they were following the biblical saying:

            “The heart of fools is in their mouths, but the mouth of the wise is in their heart”.  

Other Sayings on Silence:

  Relying on my command of the language, I remained silent.

  Words can mean that that  I want to make you into a friend.  Silence can    mean that I already accept you being one.

  Silence is the most beautiful music.  (Maestro) 

  Brecht and Beckett both played with pauses on stage, attempting to stretch them to the maximum.

 

7. The court — set up to restore and maintain order, merely creates mayhem, chaos or anarchy. At the end of the play cows are wandering the roads and orphans are roaming the streets.

8.  Sheer hypocrisy of the courts;  “It’s strange work for  a Christian girl to hang old women.”  Proctor to Mary (58).  

.   The perverse logic; the only satanism is the satanic majesty of the state.  (Peter Craven)

9.  John Proctor recites all the ten commandments except “Thou shalt not commit adultery”  

10. To us a virgin forest represents pristine nature - an expression of God’s miraculous creation while to the Puritans it represents the devil’s playground and is associated with dark uncontrolled evil forces.

 


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