Which has more religious emphasis between Edwards's "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" and  Miller's The Crucible?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, Edwards's sermon has more religious emphasis than Miller's The Crucible.

Religion plays an important role in both works.  However, The Crucible has other subtexts that play an equally important role.  For example, Danforth and Hathorne act with political considerations when presiding over the trials.  Putnam is driven by efforts to consolidate his land ownership.  Proctor and Elizabeth struggle with their relationship.  Religion is a weak area for them, as seen in how Proctor cannot recall the commandment about adultery.  However, their struggles also manifest in the concepts of trust, forgiveness, and unconditional love.  Even the girls dancing in the woods can be seen as rebelling against social expectations more than against religion.  Abigail is motivated by coveting Proctor more than she is by spiritual identity.  Very often, Miller's story lines connect to elements outside of issues in religion.

For Jonathan Edwards, there is nothing else but religion.  Every word in the text is related to spiritual identity, transgression, and God's forgiveness.  Edwards's sermon is intended to galvanize his audience into religious awareness: "There is nothing that keeps wicked men, at any moment, out of Hell, but the mere pleasure of God.”  The emphasis in Edwards's sermon is purely on religion.  

Arthur Miller's drama emphasizes religion, but not exclusively as Edwards's sermon does.  Miller wishes to explore different dimensions in the human experience. Jonathan Edwards sees religious relationship as the only critical element to human identity and relentlessly emphasizes it in his sermon.

Read the study guide:
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

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