This is the essay question "Explore how Miller presents the conflict exisitng between individual chocie and social expectation in ‘The Crucible"

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Humayra Chowdhury 10E
Explore how Miller presents the conflict exisitng between individual chocie and social
expectation in `The Crucible'
`The Crucible' written by Arthur Miller is a great example of an allegory which explores the conflict
existing between individual choices and social expectations. In Salem the society may have power
over certain individuals such as Mary Warren but not over strong willed characters such as Abigail and
Proctor. This community holds power over individuals who fear other individuals and is made up of a
dominant group. Miller uses this idea to make a comparison to McCarthyism in the 1950's. During this
time in McCarthyism the government had most authority over America and almost brainwashed
them, while in Salem people were ruled over by the Church and Court. Miller conveys this in `The
Crucible' to strengthen and prove the purpose of the play. In this play power and reputation are the
key elements which cause conflicts between individuals and society and expectations society holds.
Also there are some individuals who rule over other individuals e.g. Abigail and the girls.
In the beginning of `The Crucible' Miller presents Proctors personal and religious choices as being an
important cause of the conflict. This individual rejects to have his third child baptised and rarely
attends the Church, representing him as a "Christian" by name. In the play, Salem follows a theocracy
government where the society is formed by religious belief. This makes Proctor stand out awkardly
and dangerously as he is separate from this society. This independent character, has no respect for
Parris's station and insults the Reverand when he sacrcastically says, " I must find it and join it". Hatred
is shown as he refers to joining the faction against Reverand Parris. The `Christian' man sees "no light
of God" in the minister, exposing his hatred for him and indicating his version of religion he promotes.
This is quite ironic, as the audience is already aware that Proctor has fallen short of his own high
standards. His prejudice against Parris reflects the hypocrisy which is still residing within him. Proctor
has no faith or trust in Parris as he refuses to let him "lay his hand upon my baby". This uneducated
character is initiating this segragation from society and causing suspicions. Ultimately, Miller seems to
be drawing the audiences attention to the dangers of individul though and action. The audience can
see the potential pitfalls of Proctors choice as he is not falling into line with his social expectations.
Therefore, he is portrayed as a confident character who is not afraid to express his feelings,
however displaying rebellious attitude makes him an easy target later in the play.
Another social expectation which Proctor breaks causes a massive conflict throughout the play with
Abigail. Proctor breaks another commandment "Thou shall not commit adultery" which he shamefully
forgets when quizzed by Reverend Hale. This adulterer at first defends Abigail through individual
decision by cleverly manipulating the situation. He brings in other people's opinions by mentioning
"the town go silly". The lecher is protecting his victim, cunningly which increases the tense of the
existing conflict between individual choice and social expectations. In addition, he continues to shield
her by describing her as a "saint"; this is stereotypical which connotes pure, holy and good. It
suggests Abigail's character has slyly twisted his mind. Although, this adulterer is preserving Abigail's
sins, he is giving himself an unforgettable reputation which is known by society. Proctors identity and
reputation has changed negatively through the affair, making him guilty of hypocrisy. Throughout, the
play Proctor faces many inner conflicts and breaks many social expectations but decisions he makes
changes over time from negative to positive.
Moreover, we are introduced to another strong-willed individual named Abigail, who creates more
and more conflict between individual choice and social expectation in `The Crucible'. In Salem, girls
were given the duty to work for the townsmen, then be married off and have children but Abigail has

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Humayra Chowdhury 10E
broken this by having an affair with the leecher, Proctor. The charming girl is desperate to have
relationship with him, even though this is against social expectations as she sweetly talks to him, "You
are no wintry man", a metaphor which creates a positive reflection of Mr Proctor. She exposes her
love to Proctor with her emotive language as she repeats, "I cannot do" certain things without you.…read more

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Humayra Chowdhury 10E
these authorities are frail then society must be too. This confides to why conflicts are existing
between individual choices and social expectations.
End of act three Miller presents conflicts existing between individual choice and social expectations
when Proctor outbursts blasphemous. Proctor is pressured by Danforth to confess but he refuses as
he outbursts with rage. The non religious character goes against religion and social conventions as he
exclaims "God is dead".…read more


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