How does Miller dramatize ideological conflict in The Crucible?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Miller mainly relies upon the characters of John Proctor, Rev. Parris, and the judges to illustrate the ideological conflict present in the town of Salem.  Unfortunately, the conflict has not truly died in America. 

Rev. Parris, the judges, and many of the townspeople are concerned entirely with the exterior.  Rev. Parris wants the church to appear to be good.  He wants his daughter and niece to appear to be good Christian girls so that they can advance his reputation. Likewise, the sole reason that the judges do not reverse their decisions when they undeniably know that Abigail and the girls have been faking is because they will fall from grace and authority in the public's eyes. Finally, the Putnams care nothing about eradicating the devil from their "beloved" community; they simply use the witch scare to promote their own prominence in the village by obtaining more property and power.

John Proctor sees life and religion in a completely different manner.  He knows that "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." While John has hurt his outer appearance through his affair with Abigail, especially in his wife's eyes, he eventually shows that one must be more concerned about what he truly believes and act accordingly.  For example, he does not go to church because he cannot stomach Rev. Parris's hypocrisy. He also will not lie at the end theplay to save his life andregain his standing in the community because he knows that it is morally wrong and that it would harm what Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey stand for.

This struggle between the two factions in Salem represents for Miller the struggle that still exists today between those who want absolute power over the people and those who simply want to be able to think for themselves and not be so concerned about how others perceive them.