"To belong or not to belong is a basic human desire or need." Discuss this with reference to The Crucible by Arthur Miller.I have an essay on the concept of "belonging" with...

"To belong or not to belong is a basic human desire or need." Discuss this with reference to The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

I have an essay on the concept of "belonging" with reference to The Crucible. I would very much appreciate any help with quotes.

Thank you very much :)

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pmiranda2857's profile pic

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

Posted on

The Puritan community functions on the belief that everyone works collectively for salvation.  Therefore, the concept of belonging is very important, everyone must work for the same goal, everyone must attend church, everyone must seeks God's grace for the sake of everyone's salvation.

This is why John Proctor is identified as an outsider in the play.  He wants to be an individual, rather than a member of the community.  He makes his own decisions, not acceptable to the community which is centered in the church.  Proctor is a rebel who does not want to belong, he just wants to live his life according to his own beliefs.  His choices come into question when he has an affair with Abigail Williams, behavior that is strictly forbidden.

Proctor opens himself up to criticism and ridicule because he has committed a mortal sin.  The community's belief in oneness is then reinforced by the fact that had Proctor been a more faithful Puritan, he would not have fallen into sin. 

Belonging is necessary for survival in the Puritan community.  That is why, when members of Salem experience hardship and loss, they look to outside forces of evil as the cause.  If the community is functioning as a unit and everyone is acting in a way that pleases God, then infant deaths, deaths of livestock, sickness and loss of crops should not happen. 

It is the expression of individuality and not belonging that starts all the trouble.

ms-mcgregor's profile pic

ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The need for belonging is personified in the character of Mary Warren. Mary is meek and subservient both to the Proctors and to the girls making the accusations. However, her need to belong to a socially approved group allows her to stand up to John Proctor at two critical times. First, Proctor tells Mary she cannot go to court because, as the Proctor's servant, she has work to do at their home. Mary, who has gained a lot of attention by being a member of the girls making the accusations, tells Proctor that she is now a member of the court and that she must attend the proceedings. During that conversation, she reveals that Elizabeth Proctor has been accused of witchcraft but Mary, in an attempt to placate the Proctors, says she stood up for Elizabeth. John then convinces her to go to the court and testify that Abigail is lying. However, when Mary gets to the court, Abigail is able to manipulate her by claiming to see a bird in the rafters and accusing Mary of of sending the bird to hurt Abigail. Mary's need to belong is stronger than her conscience and Mary recants her testimony and then accuses Proctor of being on the side of the devil. Mary's need to belong eventually leads to Proctor's death.

lizbv's profile pic

lizbv | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

Miller's play, The Crucible, really splits up the citizens of Salem into two groups: the leaders and the followers.  Abigail Williams and John Proctor are definitely the leaders, each setting out on their own to do what they must: for Abigail, that means leading the accusations to help her get Elizabeth out of the way so she can have John; for John, that means doing what he must to show that Abigail and the girls are frauds.  The girls are an example of the "basic human...need" to belong.  Partly out of fear of Abigail, partly out of peer pressure, the girls who follow Abigial's lead demonstrate Miller's meaning. 

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