"Miller makes sure that Salem's sins are redeemed by the play's ending." To what extent do you agree with this assertion?

2 Answers | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I am not totally sold on the idea that the ending of the drama represents one in which the sins of Salem are redeemed.  I think that this would make things too "neat" for what Miller is trying to do.  The fact of the matter is that Miller argues that Salem's predicament was caused by individuals and human beings acting in their worst of manners.  This can only be alleviated by fellow human beings who stand for what is right and represent a sense of dignity and decency in an indecent time and one that is devoid of dignity.  Miller stresses that human action is the cause of what happened in Salem and human action can represent how it can be changed.  This idea does not automatically guarantee redemption and a sense of remedy.  The drama centers on Proctor and his own redemption.  Proctor remains silent for a good chunk of the play, convinced of the need to not take action.  Proctor also remains in a role throughout the play where his own redemption is the basis of evolution.  Proctor's primary concern is with his "name" and how he is able to stand up as an example to his children.  Proctor's last speech is subjective, driven by his own need to stand up and represent a force of decency to his children.  There is little in his speech that speaks to the redemption of Salem and little that drives at a universal condition of absolution.  This is because Miller understands that Proctor's utility lies in his inspiration to others' sense of duty and their action.  Miller is not suggesting that with Proctor's death moral order is restored in Salem.  Yet, he does seem to be suggesting that individuals like Parris, Abigail, and Danforth and Putnam caused the state of Salem to be horrifically undignified and uncivil.  It can be on the shoulders of individuals like Proctor, Corey, and Rebecca Nurse to change things if others can follow their examples.  This is not a direct guarantee of redemption, but it is one in which it is possible.  This is why I would have to hedge my support of the initial assertion given what I see in the ending of the play.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question