Morality in the CrucibleIf I wanted to talk about Morality and Puritan Law/beliefs, how would I start my paper?  I was planning on using Rev.Hale, Mary Warren, and Elizabeth Proctor.

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e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Morality, for the puritans, was a culturally definitive and community defining set of beliefs. Regardless of how closely each individual hewed to the moral code of the community, it was the strictness and the outwardness of the moral code which helped to distinguish this group of people from other groups. 

Acting morally wasn't necessarily the point. However, we see in Abigail and example of what happens when immorality in the community becomes overwhelming and threatens an individual's identity as a member of a morally defined community. She leaves Salem, in the end, and the group is allowed to go back to thinking of itself as a morally integral community again. 

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not sure they had to do the opposite, but many of them certainly had to make some compromises to live within the Puritan laws/faith.  I think of John Proctor, of course, and one incident in particular.  He knew he was to attend church as part of his faith, and he knew he was to have is children baptized by the minister.  Proctor made the choice to violate those tenets of his faith because of something he also felt strongly about--that Parris was not truly a man of God. 

So it seems to me it comes down to being obedient to one's faith vs. following one's personal morality rather than breaking laws in order to keep them. Which is the higher law?

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hmmm... I'm not sure I agree.  I think that what Danforth, et al are doing is a perversion of Puritan morality, not the real thing.  We'll see what others think.  If I were going to write a paper on your topic, though, I would start it something like this:

In "The Crucible" all of the people who are truly moral are the ones who act in ways that violate the Puritan law.  The Puritan law was so harsh and unjust that a person could not follow it and still be moral.  Many of the characters in the play, including (name your picks) illustrate this point for us.

Does that help?

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Puritans liked to think of themselves as moral, and were on a constant search for immorality among them, as it was a sign of the Devil's influence.  They had a somewhat twisted morality though, in my opinion, and in some cases were more immoral than non-Puritans in the way they treated other Christians, and the authority with which the Church wielded all power.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Can you tell us what you are planning to use as your main point?  That would help me, at least, to know how you should start your paper.  Are you saying that the Puritan law was moral?  Or that it wasn't?  Or something else altogether?  Let us know, and you'll surely get plenty of responses.

mmaddigan | Student

For my paper I want to get the point across that the characters had to do the opposite of Puritan belief in order to be moral, if that makes sense.  i.e. Rev. Hale had to deny his former beliefs of Puritan law to choose the moral road.