The Crucible Through the Marxist and Gender Lenses


The Crucible Through the Marxist and Gender Lenses 

In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, readers can see how decisions can sculpt society and form the people we are. It is identifiable in the play, The Crucible, the different lenses that are being used. Throughout the play, we see a power struggle, whether it be if you are a woman in Salem or the theocracy itself. It is evident that there is an unjustifiable advantage between the people of Salem and the theocracy. Using the Marxist and Gender lenses, Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible reveals what happens in a corrupt society. 

The Crucible through the Marxist lens shows us the different power dynamics at play in the Society of Salem, like how people gain and use property, whether it is land, livestock, or wealth, gives them access to power and influences how they use their gained power. In The Crucible, this condition is seen with many characters from Giles Corey to Mister Putnam. The people of Salem have a tough decision, either protect their reputation or their integrity. According to June Schlueter and James Flanagan, The Salem witch trials were a corrupt time in society during 1692, nineteen women and men and two dogs were hanged, one man was pressed to death, and 150 were imprisoned (31). The people in Salem use their power to accuse others of being witches or to fight against the witch trials. When people sought economic control by owning animals, Marxism entered the equation and wanted someone to be at fault if the animal died. In the case of Martha Corey, Miller illustrates this. A pig was sold to Mister Walcott by Goody Corey, but it died shortly after, and he wanted his money back. Martha Corey told him that “if you haven’t the wit to feed a pig properly, you’ll not live to own many,” and did not give him money (Miller 72). Salem is dominated by the strict conduct of Puritanism derived rules. Theocracy plays a direct role in the life, reputation, rank, actions, and future of every person and the entire society of Salem in the play. Due to democracy, the future of the accused members was solely contingent on the judgment of the religious officials during the Salem witch trials. Danforth states, “While I speak God’s law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering. If retaliation is your fear, know this—I should hang ten thousand that dared to rise against the law, and an ocean of salt tears could not melt the resolution of all the statues. Now draw yourselves up like men and help me, as you are bound by Heaven to do” (Miller 129). This quote shows the way of the Puritan society in Salem, it shows how the theocracy ruled over Salem and had the most power. Along with the theocracy affecting society, it also is corrupting the government. According to Miller Burdick, The judges of Salem, along with everyone else, suffer from unreliable moral ignorance (90). Because of the lack of any tangible proof of spirits or the Devil, their decision was focused on their perceptions of people's tales. People accused of witchcraft could either "come to the side of Heaven". Through the Marxist lens readers see the highs and lows of Salem's society and how the government can be amoral. 

The Crucible through the Gender lens shows us the different roles men and women have in the society of Salem. Edward Murray stated, John Proctor is physically distrustful of authority and strong-willed, Abigail is depicted as commanding, dangerous, sensitive, and sexually passionate (64). Although the men in the story aren't shown as emotionally sensitive, during Proctor’s affair with Abigail, he might not have as intense an emotional connection, he must feel something regarding their relationship. As it is written, it appears that he feels nothing at all except anger, which only comes as a reaction to Abigail’s over-emotional state. The male influences in the play have more power over the female characters. The narration in the play states, “Both afraid of him and strangely titillated: Id best be off. I have my Ruth to watch. Good Morning, Mr. Proctor” (Miller 21). In Act 1, Proctor enters, all the girls are slightly scared of him. Their reactions indicate their respect for and inferiority to Proctor. This shows that in their society in Salem, women are inferior to men. According to Christopher Bigsby, the first three witches named were, a slave, a laborer's wife, and a woman who had absented herself from church (85). For instance, it is noticeable that the majority of the people being accused of witchcraft were women, and the men that were accused were most likely associated with the women who were accused primarily. Since women started the trials it was easier to accuse more of them, a way that the powerful men could take over. There are multiple occasions in the play that we see where men hold more power over women. For example when Parris was yelling at Tituba, “You will confess yourself or I will take you out and whip you to your death, Tituba!” (Miller 44). This quote from the play demonstrates how women, like Tituba, are powerless. In the society of Salem, women are inferior to men and it is shown that they hold a powerless status in Salem's community.

As a final observation, The Crucible shown through the Marxist and Gender lenses shows the toll it takes on society. It also shows how much society has changed over the years. Using the Marxist lens readers can identify the different power dynamics and how it plays a role in the society of Salem. As a result of the Gender lens, readers see the disadvantages women have in Salem. Analyzing The Crucible through the Marxist and Gender lenses reveals the advantages people have in society.

 

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