How is the oppression of women presented in The Crucible by Arthur Miller?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The persecution of women and girls for the fictitious charge of witchcraft is itself a prime illustration of the oppression of women in this patriarchal society. To be sure, men in Salem can also be arraigned on charges of witchcraft, but it's mainly women who bear the brunt of the...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The persecution of women and girls for the fictitious charge of witchcraft is itself a prime illustration of the oppression of women in this patriarchal society. To be sure, men in Salem can also be arraigned on charges of witchcraft, but it's mainly women who bear the brunt of the terrible witch-craze that has descended on this small town like a plague of locusts.

It says something about the lack of power and opportunity available to women in this part of the world that one of their number, Abigail Williams, can only really get to exercise some measure of control over her life by going around and falsely accusing others of being witches. For the first time in her life, Abigail is in control. She's the one who holds the power of life and death in her hands, a role traditionally accorded to a (male) tyrant. In exerting that control, Abigail is unconsciously subverting and undermining the patriarchy, albeit through sacrificing the lives of innocent women.

It is ironic indeed that the male judges of the court should be so in thrall to a young woman and hang on every lying word she utters. Even more extraordinary is the fact that a woman of such low reputation should be the animating spirit behind a moral crusade, most of whose victims are themselves women whose behavior goes against the established norms of the Calvinist patriarchy.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team