In The Crucible, are there any historical events or events in our current society that may contribute to "the encountering conflict" theme?Okay, so the EXAM is coming up pretty soon but I'M SO NOT...

In The Crucible, are there any historical events or events in our current society that may contribute to "the encountering conflict" theme?

Okay, so the EXAM is coming up pretty soon but I'M SO NOT READY and i need your help!
I'm pretty confident with The Crucible play itself but when I have to include all these other supplementary materials, I'm pretty much stuck except for 1950s McCarthyism. Besides this, can anybody please please suggest any historical events or any issues in our society that could relate to "conflict" ?

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booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

"Encountering conflict" is a central focal point around which human existence revolves. Someone who solves one problem only to face another, or someone who is beating conflict off as if using a baseball bat can attest to this. Some of us are those very people.

So if conflict is a part of the human experience. Where do we see it today? I would think that President Obama is having his fill of it, as will many "new" Presidents. The idea of the "honeymoon" phase right after the inauguration, when the other side backs off for a while, is the easiest part of a President's new term.  However, once that time is over, the "gloves come off...and it's every man for himself. (Sorry for cliches.)

If we look at any President trying to address a mountain of problems that already exist when he comes into office, there is the "encountering conflict" theme.  For President Obama, just before the election, the "depression" hits; once the President enters office, he takes on health care, bringing the military home from overseas, unemployment, educational reform, buy-outs for enormous corporations (i.e., automotive manufacturers), etc. In a very real way, the conflicts just keep coming. They are generated by social problems requiring immediate reform, and well as partisan politics, when the "other guy" is always "watch-dogging" and looking for any excuse to attack. (Such is the way with politics in general.)

Historically, could we not look at World War II? Hitler's armies were spreading through Europe. In their wake, specific groups (the Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, the handicapped, etc.) were targeted for imprisonment, and for the most part, extermination. People lived in fear of being identified to the Nazis, just as was the case in "The Crucible." One word whispered against you, and you, your family and everything you owned were gone. The concentration camps were places of abuse, torture, scientific experiments, and death. The Italian government joined forces with Hitler. France was over-run (as were so many other countries), and then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

These conflicts were based upon ideological differences, a lust for power, and sheer madness. World War II affected people all over the world: not just those in the midst of the mayhem, but families throughout the world, waiting for news, Allied troops fighting on the ground and in the air, women taking over the jobs traditionally held by men as the men were off fighting, and families world-wide destroyed by the insanity of a tyrant (based on his own personal demons, it would seem) with a vision to "cleanse" the world.

You could also address the problems faced by the early Christians, as well as those trials historically faced by those of the Jewish faith and culture.

"Encountering conflict" is nothing new to mankind, but for the sake of argument, above are listed several areas that you might want to research a little more thoroughly so that you are prepared when asked to respond to this theme.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think one of the many strengths of this excellent play is the fact that it can apply to so many different historical periods and generations, and even today we can see situations that can be compared. This play highlights the conflict between the security of the community and individual freedom. Salem was a community which literally felt under siege, threatened by the dangers of teh wilderness, the possible corrupting influences of other Christian sects, and a genuine fear of the Devil. You are right in indicating the parallels that exist between the Salem witch trials and the McCarthy investigations, which were proceeding when it was first produced. However, you can also see this play much more widely as an allegory of the abuse of state power by those who persecuted and denounced people who were thought to be undermining the American way of life. Just as in Salem, any who opposed McCarthy's investigations were treated as enemies of the state.

You might want to think about any modern parallels. I must admit, but slightly controversially, that George Bush's statement following 9/11 when he said "You are either with us or against us" could be used as an example. This of course meant that anyone who opposed American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq was, according to him, "against" America and "for" the terrorists. You might also like to think about famous people who have made a choice to stand up for what they believe against states who do not permit freedom of expression. Aang San Su Kyi is an incredible example of this, as are numerous protesters in China. Hope this helps! This really is an amazing play that stretches so far.

dtarver1003's profile pic

dtarver1003 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

In The Crucible, are there any historical events or events in our current society that may contribute to "the encountering conflict" theme?

Okay, so the EXAM is coming up pretty soon but I'M SO NOT READY and i need your help!
I'm pretty confident with The Crucible play itself but when I have to include all these other supplementary materials, I'm pretty much stuck except for 1950s McCarthyism. Besides this, can anybody please please suggest any historical events or any issues in our society that could relate to "conflict" ?

 Looking at The Crucible, we see situations in which the law does not keep people’s baser instincts in check. What this means is that people must fall back on their own instincts and their own judgements – they “are what [they] always were, but naked now”. Situations have arisen that the laws or past practices are inadequate to deal with. If a healthy and just society is to emerge from these times of trial – from widespread social conflict – it will do so because of the work of those who can rise above petty self-interest and demonstrate a higher level of empathy and morality. If the wrong people triumph, the resultant injustices will persist for generations.

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