January 14, 2011
Sometimes when powerless individuals are given a little taste of power they become power hungery and it becomes out of control. This happens in many different regions in many different situations. The girls involved in the Salem witch trials were greatly empowered. The Crucible, by Arthur Miller shows that Salem witch trial empowered multiple people who were previously powerless.
The first two people to be empowered in the play were Abigail and Betty. Betty was the daughter of Parris, and Abigail was his niece. Abigail was not known to be the most saintly girl around. She was once a servant for the Proctors but she was dismissed for having an affair with Elizabeth Proctor’s husband, John Proctor. Abigail has a bad reputation and is fairly low in the social rank. Abigail and Betty were close to each other. Betty was one of Abigail’s followers. She was empowered along with Abigail.
Abigail wants all the power to herself. In The Crucible, a servant named Tituba also begins to gain power through false confessions and also by accusing innocent people. Abigail saw that Tituba, a powerless servant, had caught everyone’s attention. After Abigail realized this she says, “[…] I danced for the Devil; I saw him; I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!” (Miller 189).
Abigail continued to name a few more people that she supposedly saw with the Devil. Hale and Parris were very satisfied with Abigail and believed every word she said without one question. They take it as a God sent them Abigail to help them find the other witches. Abigail was once a dirty mistress and now everyone began to praise her for all the information and great knowledge that she had. Betty was also praised for this. They both knew this was false but Parris and Hale believed them. Abigail and Betty were empowered through the madness and could now accuse anyone they wanted and get away with it.
As mentioned earlier, Tituba was another person who was once powerless but gained much power. She was the first to gain power to accuse people of witchcraft. Tituba is one of them most powerless individuals. She is a black slave from Barbados whose owner is Samuel Parris. Since she was a slave, she did not have very high social rank. She had no say in any decisions or control over anything. She had no power at all. In the play, Parris and Hale are trying to convince Tituba of practicing witchcraft. They threaten Tituba and she does the only thing that she thinks will save her. Tituba lies. She turns the story to make her look like a good person by saying that she has seen Lucifer and he wanted her to kill Parris. She says, “He say Mr. Parris must be killed! Mr. Parris no goodly man, Mr. Parris mean man and no gentle man, and bid me rise out of my bed and cut your throat!” (189) but she stood her ground and did not kill Parris. Mr. Parris, feeling that Tituba practically saved him, now believes every word that she says. This empowered Tituba and enabled her to blame the devil.
The third person that gained power in the play is Mary Warren. Mary is a servant. Her owners are the Proctors. Servants are the lowest rank of the Puritan society. Mary Warren didn’t have any power at all. She was often beaten and treated harshly. Mary suddenly gains power and is working in the court trying possible witches. When John Procter finds out about this, he is angered. He does not the trial should even be happening. They command that Mary not return to the court, but Mary refuses. This once powerless slave stood up for herself and went against her owner. Mary thinks she is doing a good thing. She even tells the Proctors that in court she saved Elizabeth Proctor’s life. Procter thinks it is ridiculous and threatens to beat Mary. She replies saying, ‘I only hope you’ll not be so sarcastical no more. Four judges and the King’s deputy sat to dinner with us but an hour ago. I – I would have you speak civilly to me, from this out.” (Miller 196). Mary, filled with this newly found power, put her foot down. She would not have this anymore. Not only did she say that he speak kindly to her, but after, she threatens Procter to stop beating her or she will not speak so highly of his family next time. Mary gained the most power of all the girls in The Crucible.
The girls involved in the witch trials were greatly empowered. Most of the slaves were gaining power through the tough situation that they had never had before. The Crucible is a great book because it is not only talking about the Salem witch trials. Even today there are many situations similar to this empower once powerless individuals.