What is the major conflict in The Crucible?

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In terms of the major conflict concerning the protagonist , John Proctor, I would argue that it is of the character vs. society variety. Proctor, and his few friends and allies, seem to conflict with everyone else in Salem, a society that has succumbed to hysteria and is in the...

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In terms of the major conflict concerning the protagonist, John Proctor, I would argue that it is of the character vs. society variety. Proctor, and his few friends and allies, seem to conflict with everyone else in Salem, a society that has succumbed to hysteria and is in the throes of a witch hunt. Tituba and Abigail Williams are believed, and the accusations of witchcraft begin to fly. Innocents are dragged to the court by the dozen, and the little girls who began the craze grow in power daily. Proctor faces off against them after his wife is arrested, charged by the bitter young woman with whom he'd previously had an affair, and he is arrested too.

One could also argue, however, that the major conflict is John Proctor vs. himself. His opinion of himself changes dramatically after his affair with Abigail, and he fights to regain some self-respect throughout the play. In the end, he must decide whether his life is worth destroying his integrity, and he eventually chooses his integrity over his life. In the end, he says that he "think[s] [he] see[s] some shred of goodness" now in himself, and he longs to preserve both that goodness as well as his sense of it, and he cannot do so by lying to save himself. This inner conflict, however, could be considered the most significant one of the play.

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I think the biggest and most important conflict in the entire play is truth versus lies.  The entire play rests on that idea and every problem in the play stems from that same thing.  The girls dance and lie about it.  They find themselves in trouble and make up lies about women in the town.  Abigail finds herself in a position of power and lies about Elizabeth. 

When people try to tell the truth they they are punished.  Mary Warren tries to tell the truth and Abigail and the other girls immediately turn on her.  When she lies and accuses John Proctor of witchcraft, she is again out of danger.  The characters who lie are safe.  The characters who tell the truth are killed. 

In the end John Proctor struggles with what to do.  He can lie and save his life or stick to the truth and die.  The entire play is based on this struggle for truth.

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Conflict #1- Several girls, Betty, Ruth, Abigail, and others along with Tituba, the black house servant, go into the woods, the girls dance in the woods and are discovered. 

Conflict #2- Betty Parris is sick. Her illness is the result of being caught dancing in the woods. 

This is a serious conflict because Puritan children are not allowed to dance or engage in frivolity.

"When the girls are discovered in the woods, they know that they will be judged, and judged harshly."

Conflict #3- Reverend Parris is determined to prove that Betty's illness is not connected to witchcraft, so he calls in an expert from another town, Reverend Hale.

Conflict #4 - The Putnam's daughter, Ruth is also sick, from dancing in the woods, and helping to conjure the spirits of her dead siblings.

"The Putnams themselves set up a central conflict of the play, defining some of the suspicion, jealousy, and resentment simmering below the surface of this outwardly ordered and repressed society."

Conflict #5- John Proctor and Abigail Williams are at odds, she still loves him, he rejects her.

In my view, the Putnam family is at the center of the main conflict which is the girls dancing in the woods.  Mrs. Putnam would not accept the fact that 7 infants died on her at birth, she wanted an answer from the grave.  This sets in motion the action of the other conflicts.

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