Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible” is a fundamental example of social injustice when the citizens of Salem, Massachusetts. Citizens didn’t speak up for their neighbor for fear of being accused of being a witches themselves so, the kept their mouths shut. “The Crucible” identifies the reason the Salem witch trials of 1692 came into existence. Salem was settled by people who wanted to worship their own way without outside interference. The people of Salem’s had very strong religion beliefs, had no personal freedom outside their church, and feared the devil most of all. A group of girls were caught dancing around a fire in the woods. The girls knew their punishment would be severe for participating in such a horrendous act. Abigail decided the only a way to take the suspicion off of them was to say the saw others of the church with the devil. The other girls had no choice, but to go along with what she said. Abigail cries out, “I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!” (1.1. 45). Citizens of Salem were sent to their deaths by a corrupt system that had lost sight of what a punishable crime really was. Guilty until proven innocent became the mindset of the people and courts of Salem which sent innocent townsmen to the unjust deaths.
The righteous people of Salem, Massachusetts spread hysteria, fear, and injustice in their small community by accepting an evil selfish person accuse innocent people of being witches without any proof. Abigail Williams, a selfish evil person could tell lie after lie and have a powerful group of men commit acts of evil without asking for any proof except her word. These men were considered to be holy and honest. This group of powerful men wrongly accuse and kill innocent people out of fear and ignorance. However, the righteous men did not know they were just being used by Abigail Williams to have the married man she loved.
Two characters in Miller’s play, “The Crucible,” spoke out about the social injustices of their wives being charged as witches without proof. Corey and Proctor find themselves the targets of the girls making these accusation. Corey made an accusation about his wife to others about her reading books. Corey didn’t know his words would be used against her in the near future. Corey cried out, “I never said my wife was a witch, Mr. Hale, I said she were reading books! (2.1. 68). Corey couldn’t accept the fact that his own accusation condemned his wife to death. So, he stated that he knew it was his neighbor Walcott who accused her. “That bloody mongrel Walcott charge her. Y’see, he buy a pig of my wife four or five year ago and the pig die soon after.” (2.1. 68). Proctor ask who had accused his wife of being a witch. Mr. Cheever stated, “Why, Abigail Williams charge her.” (2.1. 69). Proctor was so surprise when he heard who had accused his wife. At first, Mr. Hale a preacher from another town first took the side of the courts and the girls. Later, he saw the social injustice and tried to convince all of them to say they were witches to save their lives.
Giles Corey is an old man who owns a farms with his wife Martha. Corey is an elderly man who is not considered to be very smart. Corey had just converted to Christianity. Corey and his wife are courageous throughout the play. However, Corey and his wife are very out-spoken and both are sentenced to death. Martha was sentenced to death for being a witch. Corey was sentenced to death for contempt of court when he was trying to tell the court that his wife was not a witch. One could say a simple question to a learned man would condemn both Corey and his wife to their death.
Corey has witnessed his wife reading from strange books more than once. Corey had never learned many prayers in his youth or as an adult. Whenever his wife would read from her books, he could not say his prayers for some reason. Corey often stumbled over his prayers anyway, but felt that his wife reading these strange books somehow affected his ability to say his prays. Corey continued and told how he could say his prayer when his wife quit reading her book and left the room. Corey wanted to know what books she was reading, and why she hid them from him. Corey told the Reverend Hale about his wife reading the strange books, and how he could not say his prayers when she was reading them. The Reverend Hale told him to let him think on it, and they would talk later.
Corey was often accused by his neighbors for any wrong doings going on in the town. If a cow was missing they would look for it at the Corey’s. Corey was asked in court about an incident with a pig of his acting strangely and said the pig must have the devil in its shape. When asked what had frightened him about the pig, Corey said. “He had never used the word frightened in his life. “I do not know that I ever spoke that word in my life. (1.1. 38).
Corey feels terrible about tell Hale about his wife reading books, because this was the reason she was charged as a witch. Corey knew his wife was innocent and recognized that his own actions have led to her incarceration and impending death. Corey attempted to defend his wife by going to the court and telling them his wife was not a witch. This backfires and Corey is held contempt of court and is jailed himself. Corey is one of a very few that spoke out about the injustice of the magistrates and the court for holding trials without any proof of wrong doings. The court was taking the word of young girls as their only proof that those accused were witches.
Corey's incredible strength of character is shown in the end when he neither confesses to, nor denies, the charges of witchcraft. By doing so, he ensures that his sons can legally inherit his property. Even though he is brutally tortured by having crushingly heavy stones place on his chest, the only thing Corey says is 'More weight' (4.1. 186). Heavy stones were laid upon Corey’s chest asking him to confess to being a witch. Corey never would confess to being a witch. Corey kept requesting more stones until he died.
John Proctor, a country-man speaks his mind and is well respected by his peers. Proctor is really a good man. Proctor has one flaw and that is his lust for the maiden Abigail Williams. Abigail that is the center of all the hysteria and speaks out against her neighbors and accuses them of being witches. Abigail believes if she can get rid of Proctor’s wife Elizabeth; she can have Proctor for herself. Abigail believes her love for Proctor is true love and not just lust.
John Proctor speaks out about the injustice of the court and the magistrates. Abigail Williams accused Proctor’s wife of being a witch because she wanted Proctor for her own. When Elizabeth Proctor found out that her husband had bedded Abigail, she made her leave her home as a servant never to return. However, when Proctor tried to save his wife he was condemned to the same fate Elizabeth.
Proctor is a proud man and values his reputation and works hard to defend his wife. Proctor was asked to sign a statement with a false confession. If Proctor signed the confession, he would be released. Proctor considered signing a false statement. Proctor could admit the lie of being a witch, but he could not sign a false confession to display for the entire town of Salem to see. Proctor refused to give up his integrity refusing to give the courts what they wanted. 'Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!'
John Hale, a trained witch hunter, who is the voice of authority and serves on the court. Hale is has staunch religious beliefs and is committed to the truth. Hale has a strong belief in witchcraft. Hale is summons to the Parris house to see if the Parris’s daughter’s sickness is the result of witchcraft. Hale believes that witchcraft is the cause of her illness by believe the lies of the slave Tituba. Hale does not see the truth of the situation is based on lies. The truth to Hale is what he believe to be truth. Hale take things on faith until he sees them undeniably for himself. Truth to Hale is what he believes, but not necessarily what is the real truth.
When the false truth is shattered, Hale looks for a new truth and a way to rectify his wrong doings. Hale realizes that the court has accepted what they thought to be the truth was based on lies. Hale set out to free the falsely accused that was being destroyed by the chaos and hysteria of the false witch hunt. When John Proctor is convicted, Hale’s confidence is shattered and he storms out quitting the court.
After some soul searching, Hale comes back to town hoping to save some lives. Hale councils the convicted witches. Hale is telling the accused to lie and say they are witches to save their lives. Hales has lost all faith in the law. Hale’s last effort is to save lives, but he is not able to convince anyone to lie.
Social injustice has been around since the beginning of time. A person’s innocent or guilty should not be based on one source of the evidence. Whenever someone is accused of a crime, they have the right to present evidence in their innocence and question the accuser. People who knows of a person’s innocence should speak out. Everyone is entitled to justice and should be granted to all. A person should always be innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent.