In "The Crucible", how do relationships in the play enhance the plot, create mood and add complexity? Relationships including specific people and even the relationship between the people...

In "The Crucible", how do relationships in the play enhance the plot, create mood and add complexity?

Relationships including specific people and even the relationship between the people of Salem in general.

Asked on by farhan

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sullymonster's profile pic

sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I would argue that the most important relationship is that of John and Elizabeth Proctor.  John is shamed by his affair.  He is angry at his wife because he believes that she has been cold towards him, but he is also ashamed of his behavior.  He loves Elizabeth.  This reason this is so important is because it leads John to get involved in the trials.  Until Elizabeth is arrested, he has stayed out of the town and the courtroom plot, even though he knows that Abigail is lying.  However, when Elizabeth is arrested, John decides it is more important to save her than to save his reputation.

Not only does this add complexity, but the relationship creates suspense.  Readers wonder "does John love her enough?" 

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amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The Crucible includes many complex characters and background knowledge that the reader gradually becomes aware of as conversations take place.  Had Reverend Hale been aware of all the bad blood among the members of the community, he would have never called for court proceedings.  In fact, he is the first of the ministers to doubt the girls' integrity.

The most obvious relationship is that of Abigail Williams with John Proctor.  They had a fling, and Elizabeth had her fired from her job to protect her marriage.  Abigail points the finger at Elizabeth for witchcraft because she wants to take Elizabeth's place as the new "Mrs. Proctor".

Another relationship that we become aware of is Thomas Putnam's desire to acquire more land. Both Giles Corey and John Proctor mention that the Putnams (dated back to Thomas' grandfather) had a habit of claiming land that didn't actually belong to them. They are accused of putting Ruth, their daughter, up to claiming witchcraft on those whose land the Putnams' covet.

We also know that the Putnams blame the midwife for all their stillborn children.  Looking for someone other than themselves to blame for these dead children, they point the fingers at her for murdering their children.

Another heated relationship is that of John Proctor and Reverend Parris.  Proctor dislikes Parris since he sees the Reverend as a greedy, ungodly man--Parris complains of candlesticks and low salary. 

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