Please discuss the following statement in relation to The Crucible: During conflict, the group is more important than the individual.Please discuss the following statement in relation to The...

Please discuss the following statement in relation to The Crucible: During conflict, the group is more important than the individual.

Please discuss the following statement in relation to The Crucible: During conflict, the group is more important than the individual.

Asked on by carrotcrap

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e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The group, as exemplified by the townspeople in Salem, seems to be in accord with this notion of crisis. Individuals are sacrificed, almost literally, for the good of the group. 

To maintain the moral structure of the society, which is of extreme importance to the Puritans, the town is willing to put to death those who would trangress the defined social/moral boundaries. 

auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would add that Judge Danforth starts out in the play as being more concerned for the good of the group (the town) than with the welfare of any one person. By the end, though, he is consumed with his own pride and self-righteousness. When Reverend Hale come back to town to plead for the lives of these innocent people, Danforth refuses to bend because bending would make him look weak. That's obviously putting one (himself) above the group (both those who are about to be hanged and the town).

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Proctor doesn't seem to think that way, right?  His family is a group, the smallest possible group.  He puts his own needs ahead of those of his family.  So he, at least, does not think that the group is more important than the individual.

Neither does Abigail.  She only cares about herself -- staying out of trouble and then getting power/prestige.  She doesn't care what her accusations do to the society as a whole.

So I think there are at least these two instances of the individual thinking they are more important than the group.

teachersyl's profile pic

teachersyl | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

In general, the benefit of the group takes precedence over the benefit of the individual. This applies in particular to the Puritans of Salem, since they were trying to establish a stable society in a harsh and dangerous new land.

The danger is when the group becomes easily swayed in a dangerous direction, as the Salem trials proved to be. A few individuals sparked mass hysteria, and then that group, in an effort to maintain control and a sense of safety, allowed those individuals to lead them down a dangerous path.

Perhaps that is why John Proctor allowed himself to get swept up in the madness-- to fight it for the benefit of the group. That is why Elizabeth's fine line is so much more poignant than flippant: "He have his Goodness now. Heaven forbid I take it from him."

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