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Themes, Motifs, Symbols
· Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a
literary work.
· Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can
help to develop and inform the text's major themes.
· Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colours used to represent
abstract ideas or concepts.…read more

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Themes ­ Intolerance
· set in a theocratic society: church & state are one, religion is a
strict, austere form of Protestantism = Puritanism.
· Due to theocratic nature of the society = moral laws + state laws
are one & same: sin and the status of an individual's soul are
matters of public concern.
· No room for deviation from social norms, since any individual whose
private life doesn't conform to the established moral laws represents
a threat not only to the public good but also to the rule of God and
true religion.
· Salem, everyone belongs to either God/devil; dissent is not merely
unlawful, it is associated with satanic activity.
· dichotomy functions as the underlying logic behind witch trials. As
Danforth says in Act III, "a person is either with this court or he must
be counted against it." The witch trials are the ultimate expression
of intolerance (hanging witches is the ultimate means of restoring…read more

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Themes ­ Hysteria
· Hysteria tears the community apart & in end, can only thrive
because people benefit from it
· Enables people to believe that their neighbours, whom they have
always considered upstanding people, are committing crimes
· Communing with the devil, killing babies etc.
· Hysteria gives them a chance to act on long-held grudges
· Abigail ­ accuse Elizabeth of witchcraft so she can be with John
· Reverend Parris ­ strengthens his position within the village by
making scapegoats of people who question his authority e.g. Proctor
· Thomas Putnam gains revenge on Francis Nurse ­ accuses
Rebecca Nurse convicted of the supernatural murders of Ann
Putnam's babies.
· It suspends the rules of daily life and allows the acting out of every
dark desire and hateful urge under the cover of righteousness.…read more

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Themes ­ Reputation
Reputation important in theocratic Salem, public & private
moralities are one. In an environment where reputation plays such
an important role, the fear of guilt by association becomes
particularly pernicious. Focused on maintaining public reputation,
the townsfolk of Salem must fear that the sins of their friends and
associates will taint their names.
Paris ­ He fears telling people about seeing his daughter, niece
and their friends practising witch craft will ruin his reputation
John Proctor ­ He has the chance to stop the girl's accusation but
in desire to protect his reputation stops him from testifying against
John Proctor ­ However, at the end of the play, Proctor's decision
to keep his good name leads him to make his heroic choice not to
make a false confession but to go to his death without signing an
untrue statement "I have given you my soul; leave me my name!"
he cries to Danforth in Act IV. By refusing to relinquish his name,
he redeems himself for his earlier failure and dies with integrity.…read more

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Motifs ­ Empowerment
· Witch trials empower characters who were previously
marginalized in Salem society ­ women occupy the lowest rung
of male-dominated Salem, few options in life:
· work as servants for townsmen until they are old enough to be
married off & have children
· Abigail ­ unmarried young girl: slave to Proctor's sexual whims
­ he trips away her innocence when he commits adultery with
· he arouses her spiteful jealousy when he terminates their affair
= Puritans' greatest fear = defiance of God, Abigail's
accusations of witchcraft & devil-worship immediately command
the attention of the court.
· Abigail aligns herself, with God's will = she gains power over
society, so do girls in her pack, and her word becomes virtually
· Tituba ­ despite being black - deflect blame from herself by…read more

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