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The “Weights” of the World: A Central Motif in ‘The Crucible’
Throughout the play, Miller uses the word weight figuratively numerous occasions. A single of the clearest situations when Miller does this is when Mr. Hale arrives. Hale carries six books: Hale: Pray you, somebody take these! Parris, delighted: Mr. Hale! Oh! It is great to see you once again! Taking some books: My, they’re heavy! Hale, setting down his books: They should be they are weighted with authority. (36) It is at this moment that Miller connects the literal heaviness of the books to the figurative which means of the “weight of authority” of which the books contain. Hale arrives in Salem with the aim of discovering the truth of the proposed powers of Satan that have overtaken the youth of Salem. Arthur Miller straight incorporates the “weight of truth” as a significant theme of the play in the really first scene. Reverend Parris pleads with Abigail for her to inform him the truth about the events that occurred within the woods as soon as he discovers Betty’s sleeping fit: Now inform me correct, Abigail. And I pray you really feel the weight of truth upon you, for now my ministry’s at stake, my ministry and possibly your cousin’s life. What ever abomination you have accomplished, give me all of it now, for I dare not be take unaware when I go just before them down there. (11) Once more, the use of the term “weight of truth” here is utilised to describe the literal predicament and it is also used figuratively to encompass “all of its figurative meanings: seriousness, heaviness, gravity, value, burden, stress, influence – all of which are connected to religion and law, the foundations upon which the theocracy of Salem village is constructed.” (Marino 489) By doing this, Miller sets the stage for the rest of the play. Miller establishes the tone for the word “truth” as the literal thing that every person is trying to discover, but is obscured by the differences among governing with law and governing with religion. The earlier paragraph leads to an additional conflict inside the play. This conflict is the difficulties and complications that come along with governing through religion and law at the exact same time.
All trials and legal circumstances ought to be investigated in a logical and scientific viewpoint. Mr. Hale and a few of the citizens of Salem look at the situation from a logical viewpoint. It is this choose few that learn the truth of the witch accusations, the truth that Abigail and the other girls are lying and that there are no witches or any signs of Satan in Salem. By hunting at this from a logical viewpoint, Mr. Hale separates himself from the other head members of the court. As Stephen Marino states, “Hale and his texts, weighted so heavily with the authority of religion, become at odds with the civil authority of the law, and irony in this theocracy exactly where Church and State law are intertwined.” (Marino 490) Religion has no location within the judicial or legislative system of a country. This only leads to the same difficulties that Miller portrays in The Crucible. In Everson vs. Board of Education of the Township of Ewing (No. 52) Mr. Justice Black of the supreme court stated: “The Initial Amendment has erected a wall in between church and state. That wall have to be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” (par 24) It is in Salem that this “wall” is crumbled to nothing but a pile of rocks. Miller often intertwines the 3 “weights.” Miller orchestrates the play in such a way that the “weight” is distributed equally amongst the more prominent characters. It is set up so that the individuals that are getting accused by the girls, and some might argue the girls themselves, have to face the challenges that come along with carrying the “weight of truth” or the “weight of law”, and the members of the court that must carry out the rulings are faced with the “weight of authority”. This weight is ideal professed through Mr. Cheever when he went to arrest Mrs. Elizabeth Proctor: You know yourself I need to do as I’m told. You certainly know that, Giles. And I’d as lief you’d not be sending me to Hell. I like not the sound of it, I inform you I like not the sound of it. He fears Proctor, but starts to attain inside his coat. Now believe me, Proctor, how heavy be the law, all its tonnage I do carry on my back tonight. He takes out a warrant. I have a warrant for your wife. (72) It is in this scene that Hale realizes that the court is acting without having his information or authority. Hale, being an outsider, discovers the truth about John Proctor and the falseness of Abigail’s. This is the moment when Hale’s “weight of truth” becomes considerably greater than his “weight of authority.”
What is the difference between heaviness and weight? If a single is discussing these words figuratively then how does one differentiate amongst the two? When someone experiences “weight,” it is something that is manageable. It could not be straightforward, but manageable nonetheless. For instance, the expression “weighing on one’s mind” indicates that the talked about individual is thinking about some thing, some thing that they just cannot look to get off of their thoughts. On the other hand, the term “heavy” is something that is unrestricted. It can be crushing. An additional example, the expression “heavy on one’s mind” portrays the feeling that the individual can not believe of something else. They are most probably overthinking the predicament and causing themselves mental torment. They are causing themselves physical discomfort. Whatever is on their thoughts is crushing them. Notice the above quote in the preceding paragraph. Notice how the word “weighty” did not seem. Alternatively, Miller utilised the word “heavy.” Stephen Marino described the significance of this by stating, “Thus, describing the law as “heavy,” as opposed to “weighty,” removes the religious association and endows it [the law] with the power to suppress, pressure, and crush whoever opposes it, accurately foreshadowing what will occur to Giles Corey, Rebecca Nurse, and John Proctor.” (Marino 492) This is the dilemma with having a court that functions entirely off of religion. The girls in the play that had been caught dancing in the woods use the theocracy of their society to their benefit several times by enacting the old practice of scapegoating. Neslihan YÄ±lmaz Demirkaya describes scapegoating as “an age-old practice that singles out an individual as accountable for the guilt and shame of a community, whereby members of that community project their guilty conscience on to that single person.” (Demirkaya 124) These girls immediately point their finger at Satan and say that they have been forced to obey him by witches. These girls, nevertheless young, expertly use the governing system in Salem to their benefit by stating that they “saw” specific folks with Satan and undertaking other unholy deeds.
In addition, these girls “deliberately and cynically give false evidence, or incite others to do so, for their own private gain or gratification.” (Welland 60) 1 of these girls (possibly far more, although not directly stated in the play), Mary Warren, was burdened by the “weight of truth” and was compelled to set free her guilty conscience by creating her plea to the court. Mary’s proclamation that the girls were lying and pretending leads to the first accusation against that accusers. The court had blindly trusted the girls up till Mary’s confession. Prior to her confession, John Proctor mentioned that the girls had been untruthful the complete time when his wife was arrested on account of attempted murder on Abigail Williams. Proctor exclaimed: Why do you never ever wonder if Parris be innocent, or Abigail? Is the accuser often holy now? Were they born this morning as clean as God’s fingers? I’ll tell you what’s walking Salem — vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we usually have been in Salem, but now the tiny crazy kids are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and widespread vengeance writes the law! (77) Proctor points out that the accusers are nothing at all much more than kids playing with adult toys. They don’t realize the significance of their lies, but they are lies all the same. Proctor’s exclamation that vengeance writes the law is considerable since it is but one more issue that occurs when a court does not proceed with the understanding of logic and science. The individuals who carried the “weight of authority” would place the “weight of law” upon the citizens of Salem. This “weight of law” that the theocracy possessed holds as significantly energy as the court. It is the power that court held. The court would crush its victims with the “weight of law.” As Proctor stated, this weight became driven by vengeance.
Maybe the most significant quote in the whole play can be linked back to Mr. Giles Corey. Giles was the first to say that the witch claims have been a hoax. He claimed that he had a witness who claimed that Mr. Thomas Putnam was convincing some of the girls to accuse his neighbors of witchcraft so that he can obtain their forfeited land. The court demands that Giles reveals the name of his witness. Giles refuses. This is when the court shows their full and unrestricted authority. They torture Giles for the info. Elizabeth must inform John about his death: Elizabeth, quietly, factually: He would not answer aye or nay to his indictment for if he denied the charge they’d hang him surely, and auction out his house. So he stand mute, and died Christian beneath the law. And so his sons will have his farm. It is the law, for he could not be condemned a wizard without having he answer the indictment, aye or nay. Elizabeth: Fantastic stones they lay upon his chest until he plead aye or nay. With a tender smile for the old man: They say he give them but two words. “More weight,” he says. And died. Proctor, numbed — a thread to weave into his agony: “More weight.” Elizabeth: Aye. It have been a fearsome man, Giles Corey. These final words of Giles connect the literal and figurative which means of the word “weight.” The literal sense of this line is fairly easy to grasp. He asked for more weight so that he could die a Christian in the law so that his youngsters could keep his land. Nevertheless, the figurative meaning is considerably far more considerable. The heavy stones, notice the use of the word heavy here, represent the limitless power, manage, seriousness, cruelty, and hardness of a theocracy. Giles would not submit to the “weight of truth” that he carried, just as he would not submit to the “weight of law” placed upon him by the court, but by refusing to submit, he was eventually crushed by this weight.
There was no escape for anyone in Salem. A single could feel the relief from the “weight of law” by confessing to the accusations, but in turn feel the “weight of truth” one could deny the allegations and in turn feel the relief from the “weight of truth,” but die from the “weight of law” or a single was on the court and was burdened with the “weight of authority.” There was no escape from the “weights of the planet.”
1. Marino, Stephen. “Arthur Miller’s “Weight of Truth” in the Crucible.” Modern day Drama, vol. 38, no. four, Winter95, pp. 488-495. EBSCOhost, libprxy.muw.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=correct&db=a9h&AN=9602020634&site=ehost-reside two. Demirkaya, Neslihan YÄ±lmaz. “Scapegoating Non-Conforming Identities: Witchcraft Hysteria in Arthur Miller’s the Crucible and Caryl Churchill’s Vinegar Tom.” Journal of History, Culture & Art Research / Tarih Kültür Ve Sanat Arastirmalari Dergisi, vol. 4, no. 2, June 2015, pp. 123-135. EBSCOhost, doi:10.7596/taksad.v4i2.444. three. Welland, D. S. R. (1983). Miller, the Playwright. London: Methuen. “Everson v. Board of Education of the Township of Ewing.” LII / Legal Details Institute. Cornell University, n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2017. <https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/330/1>.
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