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I am writing an essay tomorrow for English exam on the Crucible. Do you think I will be...

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alysemc | Student, Undergraduate

Posted November 16, 2011 at 7:30 AM via web

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I am writing an essay tomorrow for English exam on the Crucible. Do you think I will be able to include 'God' as a character in the Play?

Even though God is not physically present, do you believe I can discuss his spiritual presence, particularly in regards to Proctor?

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prhodes | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 16, 2011 at 7:46 AM (Answer #2)

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No, you wouldn't be able to refer to God as a character. Depending on what your question requires, however, it's certainly valid to refer to religious faith as a major issue or theme. Proctor himself doesn't make his religion a huge issue - he acts out of a sense of selfhood and is very self-critical when he has violated that.

Nevertheless, the issue of a Theocracy (a society ruled by a religion) is very important to the play. Miller shows, however, that it is not God or even religion itself which is the problem - it's the kind of mass hysteria and the self-righteousness which ensues from any fanatical belief.

 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 16, 2011 at 8:41 AM (Answer #3)

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I agree with the previous post.  I don't think you can use God as a character.  You might be able to use people's perceptions of God, but I don't think that would be a character.  After all, different characters had different views of what God's will was in this case and so really it's the individual characters that matter.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 16, 2011 at 8:43 AM (Answer #4)

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I, also, agree with the previous posts. Unless God is designated as a character in the author's character list, it would be incorrect to name God as a character. Given that God exists in different ways for each character, it would be very hard to characterize God.

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marbar57 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted November 16, 2011 at 12:39 PM (Answer #5)

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I, too, agree with the other posters that you should not include God as a character.  You could, however, strongly suggest a religious theme throughout your essay or cite godlike characteristics possessed by the actors or actresses.  Most people believe in a deity, or some higher power, that motivates them in their lives.  To that end, they become what they believe.  It is this life journey they make and the struggles along the way that is often good "fodder" for a play:  good vs. evil, moral vs. immoral, to overcome self for the good of the masses, etc. 

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 16, 2011 at 7:50 PM (Answer #6)

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The problem with this approach is that, whilst God is clearly a force to be reckoned with in the play, God is not a character that is mentioned as a character. Rather, what you need to talk about is the way that other characters respond to God and their religious faith, and how this leads characters to act differently. Consider the way that both Hale and Danforth respond to their idea of God and what he wants, particularly in Act IV. That would be the best way to mention and refer to God in this brilliant play.

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sdiurfesdhf | Student, Grade 10

Posted November 17, 2011 at 5:12 AM (Answer #7)

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YES U CAN

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litlady33 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted November 19, 2011 at 8:33 AM (Answer #8)

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I agree with the first 6 posts. Usually a character has to have his or her own traits and motivations in the play. In The Crucible, God is not an actual character who says or does anything independently. You could say God acts through the other characters or that the characters' belief in God drives their actions and motivations. You could also say that many of the characters need to appear to be working for God and their actions are dicated by this. However, saying that God is an actual character really wouldn't work.

It might be interesting to use God as a common thread for all of the characters and categorize them by who truly believes in God and wants to do God's work (Hale); who wants to appear to be doing God's work but really only care about their reputation (Parris); and who has no regard for God whatsoever.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted November 26, 2011 at 12:06 AM (Answer #9)

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I understand your perspective in asking this question: some pieces of literature have non-character elements that are so strong some scholars analyze these as inferred characters. An example of this that comes readily to mind is the house in Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables; the significance of the house as an inferred character is confirmed in the title as well as in the opening lines and paragraphs of the story:

HALFWAY down a by-street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst.

The question at hand is: Is there any evidence in the text of The Crucible to confirm God as an unstated, inferred character? One way to determine this is to examine--as above--the opening lines of the play. Upon doing so, we discover that Miller presents no textual indications that he intends God to be given the status of a character: God isn't even mentioned or even indirectly inferred in the opening portion of the play. On the contrary, the spiritual entity that is inferred is God's theological counterpart. Thus God can not properly be considered an inferred character as there is no textual element that suggests or establishes this in the exposition, which is where such an inference would be established as we've seen in The House of Seven Gables; thus, you must be content with God as a theme or motif. These conclusions are represented well by some excerpts from Parris's early conversation with Abigail:

PARRIS: Child. Sit you down. Now look you, child-if you trafficked with spirits in the forest, I must know it, for surely my enemies will, and they’ll ruin me with it… Abigail, do you understand that I have many enemies? ... in the midst of such disruption, my own household is discovered to be the very center of some obscene practice. Abominations are done in the forest ... I saw Tituba waving her arms over the fire when I came on you; ... And I heard a screeching and gibberish comin’ from her mouth ... whatever abomination you have done, give me all of it now, ....

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 26, 2012 at 7:12 AM (Answer #10)

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There seems to be a near consensus with which I would agree. God is no more a character than Gossip or Pettiness. God is a concept in this play, cited often, certainly, but not an active, defined figure. There is no action attributable to any character but those who appear in the play. 

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