How is intolerance a theme of The Crucible?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Miller's work thematically develops the idea of intolerance in different contexts.  Intolerance can be considered a theme in the drama because it is seen in different characters towards different characters.  For example, there is automatic intolerance whenever someone, anyone, is accused of witchcraft.  Consider the immediate attitudes towards Tituba.  The intolerance and exclusion shown to her is representative of how quick the community of Salem demonstrates it when someone is accused of witchcraft.  There is intolerance shown even amongst the girls, themselves.  When Mary Warren tries to voice disagreement with Abigail, she is met with brutal and quick intolerance to silence her and put her back in line with the wishes of the group.  At the same time, as Abigail assumes a greater prominence in the drama, there is greater institutional intolerance demonstrated.  Judges Hathorne and Danforth exhibit intolerance towards anyone who disagrees or even tries to speak out against the court's decisions.  Francis Nurse, Giles Corey, and John Proctor are all examples of experiencing this intolerance of the court in a direct manner.  In these contexts, the idea of silencing voices, preventing full discourse and denying a sense of humanity becomes the key elements of intolerance, representing it as a theme in the drama.


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