What does this play say about each of the following: person's name, the powerful and the powerless, jealousy and greed, and witch hunts?
At the end of the play, Danforth wants to nail John's signed confession to the door, and he says to Danforth, "Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!...How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!" This is a turning point for John because he then decides to hang rather than lose his name and his soul. His name will be carried on by his children, and he can't stand for them to have to carry the burden of his acts.
The powerful in the play are the ministers and the girls who cry witch. They control the fate of the powerless to prove the charges against them. How do you prove you are not a witch? At first, the girls chose only the poor, such as Sarah Good, but as they got braver in their accusations, they began to accuse people like Rebecca Nurse.
Jealousy and greed is seen most in the Putnams. Mr. Putnam has his daughter accuse people so he can get their land. Once a person was indicted, his land went up for auction to the highest bidder. Mrs. Putnam's jealousy is also used to accuse others. She resented Rebecca Nurse for her large family because all but one of her own chldren had died.
Miller wrote this play because he saw the similarities between the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s the witch hunts of Salem. Both of them started out of fear. People fear what they don't understand and act irrationally when they can't explain what they don't understand.