Examine how Miller develops the ways in which conflicts are caused by beliefs in The Crucible.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Miller is able to develop the ways in which conflict are caused by beliefs in exploring how individuals can manipulate deeply held beliefs for their own benefit.  In exploring this hypocrisy, Miller is able construct a setting in which  beliefs are used to consolidate power.  The initial moment when the girls embrace the accusations of witchcraft is one such moment.  Abigail is shown to not really care about witchcraft.  She knows that the belief in witchcraft can be used to cause conflicts.  Its fear is something that can cause her own actions to be overlooked.  Abigail uses this belief to stir up conflict in order to evade responsibility and get her way.  In this, Miller is able to show how conflicts caused by beliefs end up benefiting those in the position of power who wish to advocate their own agenda.

This same penchant is seen in Reverend Parris.  Parris is shown to be insecure and desirous of power and control.  He is convinced that his seizing of the  belief in witchcraft can benefit his own condition as the town's spiritual leader.  Like Abigail and Thomas Putnam, the use of beliefs are employed to cause conflict that substantiates and consolidates power in the hands of a few.  The social power that Parris seeks and the personal power that Abigail covets is similar to the economic power that Putnam covets.  Miller is able to develop this throughout the drama.  Those in the position of power do not care about beliefs, but understand their value for consolidation of power and political gain.  In this, Miller is able to show how those in the position of power can use beliefs and the conflicts caused by them in order to advance their own agenda.