In "The Crucible," which elements of society does Miller seem to be criticizing through the characters of Reverend Parris and the Putnams?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Reverend Parris and the Putnams represent the corruption and greed that occurs with wealth; Parris and the Putnams were quite well-off, and seemed to be, as a result, overly-concerned with keeping their money, and amassing more.  They also represent bitterness and revenge, and how a desire to belong can be dangerous.  Thomas Putnam argues with others about his land boundaries, and even goes so far as to prompt his daughter to accuse innocent George Jacobs of witchcraft so that he can buy up his forfeited land.  Mrs. Putnam uses her grief over her lost children to feed bitter rumors of witchcraft, hurting whoever she can so as to feel better and not to be blamed.

Parris is fixated with his "small" salary, wants the mortgage to the meeting house, wants gold candlesticks upon the altars of the church, and voices his thought to anyone who will listen.  Another apsect of Parris that Miller refers to is his insatiable desire to be liked, to feel like the victim of "factions" or "parties" against him.  He feels constantly slighted by people of the town, because people don't really like him.  This leads to discontent, and a willing and gullible mind when it comes to finding faults with others.  He is willing to help out at the courts, in order to feel important, he aids in the accusations, gleaning a personal satisfaction from seeing those that didn't like him  be accused.

Miller uses these two men to show how greed, insecurity, and a need for belonging can be a dangerous mix when it comes to breeding dangerous accusations against other people.  In society, we need to be careful to temper our desires for vengeance, belonging, and wealth and make sure it doesn't manifest itself in harming others.

I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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