Where does one with unique points of view standby the rest of the society in The Crucible? How does the society respond?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Crucible, different points of view are rejected as evidenced by John Proctor's arrest for witchcraft and his execution at the end of the play.  In Act I, Proctor is determined to stay out of the witchcraft hysteria that is beginning to grip Salem.  He dismisses the whole process involving Abigail and the other girls as a temporary distraction and predicts that it will blow over in short order.

He is a casual observer in Act I, he does not believe that there is any witchcraft going in in Salem.  He blames Reverend Parris.  He says the following to Abigail Williams as he arrives at the Parris household.

"I come to see what mischief your uncle's brewin now." (Miller)

Proctor does not trust Reverend Parris, he has stopped going to Sunday services because he does not feel that the Reverend is a truly spiritual man, in fact, he believes that Parris is more interested in his own material wealth than the spiritual well being of his congregation.  Proctor believes that Reverend Parris uses the pulpit to frighten the people of Salem with sermons of damnation just so he can enrich himself materially.  He wants to own the house he lives in, he wants extra pay in the form of firewood.

Proctor speaks out against Parris, right in front of him telling Rebecca Nurse:

"I have trouble enough without I come five mile to hear him preach only hell-fire and damnation.  Take it to heart Mr. Parris.  There are many others who stay away from church these days because you hardly ever mention God any more." (Miller)

Proctor has set himself apart from the community and has made a decision to separate himself and his family from the Puritan congregation, his behavior draws attention when Reverend Hale comes to Salem to investigate the charges of witchcraft at the request of Reverend Parris.

Proctor's desire to remain out of church also stems from another aspect of his life, he has committed adultery with Abigail Williams, so he also bears a guilty conscience.  He does not want to be reminded that he is a sinner and will go to hell. 

Because of Proctor's behavior, his record of not attending regular Sunday services and his disbelief in witchcraft being in Salem, he is interviewed by Reverend Hale, along with his wife and they are both found to be lacking in Christian faith. 

 With the town caught in the grip of the witchcraft hysteria everyone becomes suspect, even respected members of the community like the Proctors.  Therefore the reaction of the community is to be suspicious and throw people in jail if they have the slightest disagreement with the general population and that is what happens to John Proctor and his wife.  

"Miller links the mass hysteria of Salem to the community's excessive religious zeal and very strict attitudes towards sex. Sexual relationships and other instances of physical expression seem on the surface to be repressed and the fact that the girls fear being whipped for dancing and singing suggests the strict codes of behavior under which they live."   



See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team