Can you tell me about the common man in The Crucible by Arthur Miller.I need a passage from the book, application of concept to passage and contextual passage.

Expert Answers
missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act I, Miller gives an account in narrative form of the Puritan life. This life's common man held beliefs that cast great suspicion on any type of vain pursuit, likewise, it positioned two men to wander the town during church who maintained that people were not at work while the Sabbath was being celebrated. Here is a passage that articulates their common values that impact us today:

They believed, in short, that they held in their steady hands the candle that would light the world. We have inherited this belief, and it has helped and hurt us. It helped them with the discipline it gave them. They were a dedicated folk, by and large, and they had to be to survive the life they had chosen or been born into this country.

A couple of paragraphs later, another paragraph begins with "The Salem tragedy." This will provide similar traits of the common man.

We see these values at work in the character of John Proctor who is referred to as hard-working, and often leaves a scene to go work or cut wood. We see this with the pressing discipline of the entire town to get to truth. They worked for it so hard that the truth that was right under them could not be seen. The magistrates want to take every aspect of testimony, no matter if real or not, as truth. The townspeople press on all the more to demonstrate how the girls were not presenting truth. They thought they had a flawless religion, but this incident reveals how religion can be taken to an extreme that hurts people.

Act 3 demonstrates this clearly. Giles Corey, Francis Nurse and John Proctor enter with real evidence for the court. The magistrates want to listen to truth, but even though Giles presents a case, they won't hear it because Giles won't turn on his source when he provides the most serious piece of evidence stating that Putnam is trying to get George Jacobs land:

GILES: My proof is there! If Jacobs hangs for a witch, he forfeit up his property - that's law. And there is none but Putnam with the coin to buy so great a piece. This man is killing his neighbors for their land... The proof is there! I have it from an honest man who heard Putnam say it! The day his daughter cried out Jacobs, he said she'd given him a fair gift of land!

Read the study guide:
The Crucible

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question