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The most obvious example of this in The Crucibleis Reverend Parris. He is many things--haughty, demanding, bitter, indignant, cowardly, dishonest..and the list goes on. All of these attitudes cause conflicts with people of the town in this play on a rather consistent basis, it seems. At the heart of it all, I think, is Parris's fear that he will be released from his position and they won't think he's good enough.
I'm struck by this in several ways.
First, he keeps the girls' secret of dancing in the woods as long as he can, and he keeps the fact that at least on was naked is never revealed. This is the beginning of the conflict regarding witchcraft in Salem, and it's solely because he fears for himself.
He wants more money and gold candlesticks and who knows what else as an outward sign of his worth. In Act one, he and Proctor are having what appears to be a common argument for the two of them--Parris isn't getting paid enough. Proctor simply restates what has obviously been stated before, and Parris interrupts with
"I am not some preaching farmer with a book under my arm; I am a graduate of Harvard College."
This is Parris really saying, "I've studied and I know things and you aren't any smarter than I--even though you always win this argument."
Parris, even more than the girls because he knows better, continues to have and cause conflict out of his own fears.
The context of the idea seems to be coming from Miller's work. Certainly, it would be easy to select hypothetical examples from real life, but examining the work might be better in terms of developing a coherent and defensible thesis statement. It seems that all questions of conflict begin and end with John Proctor. What are his fears? What are the elements he fears most in the play? I think that asking this could yield a variety of answers. Some of his most elemental fears concerns his adulterous relationship with Abigail. The conflict that ends up arising from this impacts him on both a personal and political level, as the lies that are spawned from it are manipulated to represent something else. Proctor must confront his fear of the shame brought on and hurt caused to his wife, family, and most important, his name. I think that being able to find lines from the text that reflect his sense of fear about his relationship with Abigail and trying to put it in the past and then how he learns to confront it in order to resolve the conflicts that grip both he and Salem might be a very good start in the substantiation of the statement.
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