From a thematic point of view, compare and contrast between the play The Crucible and the short story 'Nineteen Thirty-Seven?"Although both The Crucible and "Nineteen Thrty-Seven" occur in...

From a thematic point of view, compare and contrast between the play The Crucible and the short story 'Nineteen Thirty-Seven?"

Although both The Crucible and "Nineteen Thrty-Seven" occur in different settings, they address some of the same issues. In a brief essay, explain the relevance of culture and what each culture reveals through its setting. Explain why hysteria, accusations, and punishments were able to arise in each of the settings. Additionally, explain how issues of superstition and fear are developed in each selection. Compare and contrast those themes as presented in The Crucible and "Nineteen Thirty-Seven." Use specific examples from the text.



Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that there are some distinct points of similarity between both works.  From a thematic point of view, the issue of social punishment as a way of silencing "the other" is evident.  Both works feature settings where individuals who are uncertain or unable to understand "the other" are subjected to isolation and a sense of demonization.  Along these lines, the lack of credible reasons for their imprisonment is another similarity.  The world in which Danticat sets her story is one where Josephine's mother is presumed to be "guilty" of something rather nebulous and undefined.  In other words, the only crime of which she is guilty is simply being "different" in her beliefs, practices, and notions of the spiritual good.  Abigail and the girls in Miller's work manufacture accusations and Danforth and his court have little in way of what Giles Corey and John Proctor would call "solid evidence" in support of their claims.  Finally, I think that a similarity is present in how both groups of targeted individuals posed a threat to the Status Quo of control.  In Danticat's setting, feeling Trujillo's repressive army and representing a living example of dissent is the reason that Josephine's mother is imprisoned.  Proctor poses a threat to Parris' leadership of the church and ends up challenging Danforth's proceedings. Corey poses a threat to both the court and to Putnam's land ownership and how he profits off of the suffering of the accused.  Abigail's interests are threatened by Elizabeth, while Francis Nurse threatens Ann Putnam in the fact that she can deliver healthy children while she cannot. In both works, the threat to those in the position of power seals the fate of those who actively dissent.

I think that there are some primary differences, though.  In Miller's work, the source of conflict redemption exists on a different personal plane than what Danticat depicts.  Miller's origin of all redemption comes in Proctor and in his relationship with his wife.  Josephine's redemption lies between she and her mother.  Danticat is concerned with the transmission of redemption between mother and daughter, while Miller sees it on the level of husband and wife.  Through both private actions of redemption there is a call for social change, but the familial location of this salvation differs.  I think that another distinct difference is that this redemption is viewed differently in each nation's historical narrative.  Miller narrates a tale that speaks to how American History must avoid the mistakes committed in Salem.  At its conclusion, one feels that the lessons gained are ones that will spur its readers to embody such lessons so that American History can learn from this.  In other words, one feels that the narrative will not go unheard.  In writing his drama at the time of the McCarthy hearings, this becomes even more relevant.  Yet, while Danticat might want to construct this at the end of her short story, there is the distinct feeling that the repression will continue and that Josephine's story is one of a minority or will too be silenced.  It seems that Danticat's continuation of the mother and daughter narrative is one that exists between them.  It is not one conceived for broad social and historical change, but rather to honor the sacrifices that the former made for the latter.   For Miller, the emphasis is for social and political change.  For Danticat, it is more personal, existing in the bond between mother and child.

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The Crucible

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