Hypocrisy In The Crucible
How does hypocrisy relate to The Crucible?
The community of Salem, Massachusetts throughout The Crucible is extremely religious, and the citizens present themselves as pious, obedient servants of the Lord. Salem is an austere community, where the citizens are more concerned about their reputations than they are towards the benevolent treatment of their neighbors. Despite their righteous appearances, many members of the community reveal their hypocritical nature throughout the play.
Although Reverend Parris is considered the spiritual leader of the community, he is depicted as a greedy, callous, selfish individual. Reverend Parris's hypocrisy is revealed by his desire for money and social status. According to Proctor, Reverend Parris is more concerned about having golden candlesticks than he is about spreading an encouraging message of hope and salvation. Reverend Parris is also more concerned about his position and reputation than he is about his daughter's well-being. His concerns are self-centered, and he is the epitome of hypocrisy throughout the play.
The Putnams, who are considered to be respectable, land-owning Christians, reveal their hypocrisy by inciting the witchcraft hysteria in order to enact revenge on Reverend Parris and the Nurse family. Thomas Putnam also uses the trials to increase his wealth by buying the land of accused citizens.
Deputy Governor Danforth and Judge Hawthorne are also depicted as hypocrites throughout the play. They are supposed to be the figureheads of Christianity and justice, yet are portrayed as corrupt, malevolent, and authoritative officials of the court. They purposely reject anyone who challenges their authority and sentence innocent citizens to death.
To a lesser degree, John Proctor is a hypocrite, who hides his infidelity to protect his positive reputation. Elizabeth Proctor is also a hypocrite because she does not exercise forgiveness even though she is a respected Christian woman. The rebellious girls, who later accuse innocent citizens of witchcraft, are also hypocrites. Despite the fact that they participate in suspicious behavior by breaking the rules of the community, they present themselves as upright, Christian figures in court, who simply wish to protect their town from witchcraft.
The Puritans in The Crucible are complete hypocrites. Tenants of the Christian faith to which the Puritans prescribed suggest that love, forgivess, and compassion should be normal habits of daily living. Judgment, deceit, and cheating were all habits they should have abhorred. However, judgment ran rampant among Rev. Parris, the Putnams, the magistrates, and the Proctors. The girls were manipulated into deceiving the entire community that good, righteous people were actually bewitched or possessed. Abigail Williams lied at just about every turn, and she coerced the girls to join her.
Elizabeth failed to forgive her husband for his adulterous affair for the majority of the drama, and compassion was never bestowed on even the most innocent characters.
The most blatant hypocrite comes in the form of Reverend Parris, the town's minister. Although he should be a beacon of light and grace, Parris preaches about hell and barely mentions the forgiveness of God. In fact, he is a symbol of the fire and brimstone messengers that represent the era of the Puritan minister. Throughout the 3rd and 4th acts, Rev. Parris looks for ways to help accuse the innocent and land them in jail. A pastor or minister should not look for sin in order to punish it, but in order to help redeem it.
Yes, yes, to everything above. Please, however, do not forget that the play itself was written to allegorically highlight all of the gross hypocrisies of McCarthyism by way of the gross hypocrisies of the Salem Witch Trials. In its very existence, the play is there to highlight HYPOCRISY. Arthur Miller was, of course, targeted shortly after his play was published. Because, god forbid, any artist should shine a light, set a stage, make a statement against the wrong doings of a government.