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Characters are tested in the conflict in Salem. What do we learn about the kind of...

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wetpyl | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 19, 2009 at 7:37 PM via web

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Characters are tested in the conflict in Salem. What do we learn about the kind of people they are?

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 19, 2009 at 8:53 PM (Answer #1)

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What the reader learns from the conflict that occurs in Salem is that there are two kinds of people who live in the village, those who have a true belief in morality, ethics and are real Christians, and those who pretend to be honest, moral Christians, but are really phony, vengeful, angry people who feel hatred toward their neighbors.  Certain members of the community are not living according to the Puritan belief system, they are not real Christians in their hearts

For example, the truth about John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor emerge, regarding John's affair and Elizabeth's sense of duty to her husband and her marriage.  The conflicts reveal the character of Abigail Williams to be a disturbed, unstable young woman who does not adhere to the Puritan faith or its principles, she has an adulterous affair with a married man, a serious sin for a young woman to commit.

Rebecca Nurse emerges as a true Christian woman, one who chooses to die for her principles, her faith, rather than participate in the evil doings that are going on in the town.  And, because of the vendetta of Ann Putnam, Rebecca's accuser, who is revealed to be a pathetic, angry woman needing to blame someone for the loss of her infant children, these two women are in direct contrast to each other.

Reverend Hale and Reverend Parris, both men of God, one comes to realize that he should be working to save people, Hale, while the other, Parris, is more concerned with saving himself.  Reverend Parris is a man more concerned with his material wealth, rather than the welfare of his congregation. Reverend Hale, also consumed, at first, with the power that he has tapped into as an authority on witchcraft, learns a lesson about what he should be doing as a servant of God, saving people from the evil nature of man.

Overall, the reader learns that the Puritan community was struggling with the same concerns that any other group of people encounter, regardless of their severe form of religion.  They had wayward children, teenagers who disobeyed their parents, scandal, gossip, and all the negative aspects of what it means to be human in any time period in history.

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tpisano | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted August 19, 2009 at 9:38 PM (Answer #2)

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Conflict in literature will always teach us about the characters.  It is during times of conflict that we learn the most about the type of people are characters are. This holds true in The Crucible.

First we have a conflict between John and Elizabeth Proctor and Abigal Williams.  Here we see Elizabeth trying to maintain the role of John's wife although there is an affair going on.  We can clearly see that Abigal is not living her life according to the Puritan ways.  She is mischievous  and she is needy.  Her actions throughout the play go against everything that her Uncle believes in. 

The reverends, Hale and Parris, also both reveal their true personalities during the conflict. Reverend Hale proves to have integrity.  Yet, he is not willing to stand up for John Proctor in court.  He will not question their decisions.  Although he is a fair man,he is also weak.  Reverend Parris, Abigal's Uncle, is weak throughout the play. He is more concerned with reputation than he is with what is right and what is wrong.

Throughout The Crucible the reader learns that the Puritan society struggled with the same issues all other societies struggle with.  Young people will always questions the beliefs and actions of the older generations. This is an age old truth that we see time and time again in literature.

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writergal06 | Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted August 19, 2009 at 10:40 PM (Answer #3)

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The inhabitants of Salem can be divided into a few different categories based on their responses to the trials. The first group are the stubborn/legalistic characters. Judge Hathorne is a good example of these characters. Despite the very obvious evidence that the girls were lying Hathorne refuses to admit that he was wrong. Also in this group are the Putnam's who will do anything to gain more power and more land. There are also those who are dynamic supporting the trial at first then seeing the invalidity of the system. Hale is a good representative of this group. He truly wanted to do right but was misled. He quickly changes side when he realizes the problem. Finally, there are those who let integrity define their actions. The Proctors, Francis Nurse, and Giles Cory all stand by their convictions and do not let the court keep them from being honest and upright.

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