The Dangers of Greed In The Crucible
In our society, humans tend to be greedy about a lot of things, such as money, fame, and other humans. But don’t worry, we aren’t the only people who are greedy. In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible a lot of people are greedy in the town of Salem. The play is about Witchcraft which leads to people accusing others to replace people, steal land, and get paid more. The Crucible teaches us that greed can often lead to chaos when people are not content and want more than they already have. This is shown when Abigail wants to replace Elizabeth and be with Proctor, and when the Putnams want to get George Jacobs’s land, and Reverend Parris feeling he's not getting paid enough.
In the play The Crucible there are a lot of characters that show greed, one of them being Abigail Williams. In Act I, when Abigail and John Proctor are left alone to talk about their past encounters, Abigail says to John, “She is blackening my name in the village! She is telling lies about me! She is a cold, sniveling woman, and you bend to her! Let her turn you like a-” (Miller 23, 24). Abigail is talking about Elizabeth Proctor and how she wants to get rid of Elizabeth to get with John. Here Abigail says, “ It’s a bitter woman, a lying, cold woman, and I will not work for such a woman!” (Miller 11). Abigail has a lot of greediness towards John which leads to a lot of hate towards Elizabeth. Here, she refers to Elizabeth as “It” and not a human. She also calls her “cold” which just shows how poorly she sees her and treats her like an animal. Also while in Reverend Parris’s house Betty screams out in anger, “You did, you did! You drank a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor!” (Miller 19). This shows that Abigail’s greed for John has taken her to the point where she asked Tituba to make a cursed charm to kill Goody Proctor. This shows how cold-hearted and greedy Abigail is and how much she wants to get rid of Elizabeth.
Another person’s greed that can often lead to chaos is Thomas Putnam. This is shown when Giles says, “My proof is here! Pointing to the paper. If Jacobs hangs for a witch he forfeit up his property--that’s law! And there is none but Putnam with the coin to buy so great a piece. This man is killing his neighbors for their land!” (Miller 96). Here Giles is talking about Thomas Putnam purposely accusing George Jacobs as a witch so then Thomas Putnam can secure his land. This just shows how ungrateful he is, he should just be happy with the land he has and not try to seek revenge by increasing his wealth and try to throw someone under the bus, even though George isn’t a witch just for some land. It also shows his greediness for hoarding land, which leads to him trying to accuse others of witchcraft that could cause death for no reason. Putnam also says, “I’ll clap a writ on you!” (Miller 32). Is referring to Thomas Putnam not liking others to use, or be on his land. It shows that too much greed can lead to people losing friendships and getting too caught up in their wealthy life.
The last example of a person whose greed is shown is Reverend Parris. In Act I, Reverend Parris says, “I regard that six-pound as part of my salary. I am paid little enough without spending six pound on firewood.” (Miller 29). Here he is talking about how little he gets paid for being the town’s minister, and since he is a town minister he thinks he shouldn’t have to pay for firewood. Parris also says, “The salary is sixty-six pound, Mr. Proctor! I am not some preaching farmer with a book under my arm; I am a graduate of Harvard College.” (Miller 29). Parris had left Barbados rich which makes him feel like he is a higher class than others. Later in Act ll Proctor says, “It does, sir, it does, and it tells me that a minister may pray to God without having golden candlesticks upon the altar.” (Miller 65). This shows that Parris went out of his way to basically beg for golden candlesticks for the church and how he wants to get respected by the townspeople. People even stopped going to church on Sundays because he replaced the wooden candlesticks with the golden ones. This shows how greedy and selfish Parris is, even though he has some wealth, he would go out of his way to beg for golden candlesticks just to get more or to show that he is higher tier. It just shows how this much greediness can get you hated in the town of Salem.
As stated above greed can bring out the dark side of people and cause a lot of chaos. This is shown in the town of Salem with Abigail, the Putnams and Reverend Parris, their greed often lead to them accusing each other for their own good. However not everyone in The Crucible is greedy, Elizabeth Proctor even though she was cheated on by Abigail, she forgave John and admits how bad of a wife she was. People nowadays have a lot of greed against each other. This should show them that you should be happy with what you have and to be yourself, or else it could lead to broken relationships/friendships and maybe even the death of one.
Miller, Arthur, and Annie Fox. The Crucible. Oxford University Press, 2019.