Arthur Millers The Crucible is a play that discusses many issues and spurs contemplation within the reader. While reading this play, because of the controversy of many issues detailed within, it is difficult for one not to take a look at ones own morals and determine what one would do if placed in a similar situation. The key issues discussed within this play, the effects of hysteria, marital betrayal, and the murderous powers of lies, are portrayed intriguingly and effectively. The lessons that can be learned from The Crucible are still quite applicable today.
Hysteria is an uncontrolled fear complemented with excessive emotion that leads to poor decisions and actions done with complete lack of forethought. The hysteria that existed in the town of Salem was largely caused by the peoples extreme devotion to religion, as well as their refusal to delve into other possibilities to explain the predicament of the time. These circumstances still exist today, and it is quite possible, as well as frightening, that a similar event could recur today. One would like to think that one would never lose control of their opinions and thought, but hysteria is a powerful force and can bring even the most intellectual of people to lose sense of what is occurring. More modern examples of hysteria such as the McCarthy trials and the ostracizing of people infected with AIDS show that learning to properly evaluate a situation for its reasonability and integrity prove to still be a valuable lesson for today.
Martial betrayal forms a central basis for the relations between the main characters of Abigail, John Proctor, and Elizabeth Proctor. John betrayed his wife by cheating with Abigail, and throughout the course of the play, he attempts to redeem himself. This brings up an interesting topic of whether cheating can ever be justified. Elizabeth feels partially responsible because she was cold to him, and she believes that it was her coldness that led her husband to betray her. However is there ever an excuse for cheating? Can cheating on ones spouse be justified if ones spouse is not loving and well treating of their spouse? Martial betrayal still is relevant today, it is a human flaw that will not simply just disappear from our society. Even prominent figures such as Bill Clinton have been accused of such actions and society still contains several such cases of adultery. By considering the mistakes of John Proctor, one will be prompted to take a look at the consequences before cheating on ones spouse.
Honesty certainly plays an important role in the unfolding of events of The Crucible. The young girls told vicious incriminating lies about various townspeople, many of which leading to the death of the accused. The lies told in this case are obviously immoral and unjust. However, there exist circumstances in which lying may be considered acceptable. John Proctors decision to die instead of signing a false confession brings up a rather controversial issue. John Proctor is portrayed as a hero for this action, although could he have been a hero if he had signed the confession? He did have a family to care for, and by choosing to die he abandoned his wife and children. Today members of society are faced with questions of their morals and integrity every day, and these issues in the play provoke contemplation of what one would do if faced with a similar decision. When faced with such a decision, one should consider the effects of lying, and take into consideration the decisions and outcomes of the characters of The Crucible, before deciding if lying is appropriate or unacceptable.
Arthur Miller portrays the issues of hysteria, adultery, and honesty in an in-depth and controversial manner within his play. However, this is worthless unless one takes these issues that are presented and gains some sort of knowledge and understanding from them. One who believes that these topics are irrelevant to todays society and only apply to the Puritan times of a small town is very nave. Humans are still human, and by no means have these moral challenges disappeared from daily life. Readers of The Crucible will gain a new understanding of themselves and their views on such issues, and this understanding can be directly applied to effectively make important decisions.