Monday, January 2, 2012

Church and State

          Intolerance, scrutiny, and theocratic society all run rampant in The Crucible by Arthur Miller. In retaliation to the outrageous accusations of people being communists without any evidence, Republican U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy was the figurehead of the Red Scare at its height. Similar to McCarthy and his followers, Miller expresses his distain towards McCarthy's fear mongering by using the setting of Salem, Massachusetts during the early 1600s to show that McCarthy's hunt for communists were no different than the witch hunts committed back more than three centuries ago. After reading through The Crucible, I was able to pull more ideas on how to make comparisons to the Church's rule in the past while also borrowing some characteristics from certain characters.
          During the time period of The Crucible, the Church spread its influence in all aspects of life and everyone was deemed either in support or against the Church. A completely black and white outlook with no room for grey areas. If you obeyed all the rules and established a good name for yourself, then your chances of going to heaven seemed that much more likely. Since religious laws were also society's laws, any who dabbled in scandalous behavior such as dancing or other forms of entertainment were looked down on and considered a bond with the devil. "You must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. This is a sharp time, now, a precise time-we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world."(Act III, The Crucible, Arthur Miller). Like the Church, the Librarium views the world in the same black and white mindset. Any peasants who are openly against the Librarium are condemned to death and labeled a threat to the world's stability like how the Church would hang those who did not support the Church or its beliefs. The Librarium uses the Wings of Justice to conduct witch hunts of their own and considered the Librarium's most lethal and loyal force.
          In The Crucible, John Proctor is the protagonist and serves as the voice against the Church and ultimately the iron grip it holds society in. As the play progresses and the witch trials escalate and it becomes more apparent to Proctor and the audience that all of these trials are groundless and illogical, Proctor starts seeing how flawed the system is and in the end rebels against it. It comes to a turning point when Proctor loses all faith in the Church when they accept the word of the manipulative and insane antagonist Abigail Williams. "Show honor now, show them a stony heart and sink them with it!"(Act IV,  The Crucible, Arthur Miller). Once the protagonist of my story joins the Wings of Justice and is forced to kill innocent people, he starts realizing just how unfair and controlling the Librarium is in terms of magic and denying the peasants and ordinary citizens of the world to learn how to use it. Roland, my protagonist, ultimately  rebels against the Librarium and organizes a standing army to fight them.
          News of the devil making its way into Salem reaches the surrounding towns and cities which brings the attention of those who have experience in dealing with witch trials, specifically Judge Danforth. Over the course of the play, Danforth becomes the ruling authority of the court in Salem and represent the Church's theocratic principles and authority. While he is by no means an idiotic man, Danforth would rather keep his well respected name rather than admit the trials as a sham and makes it clear that there can never be a middle ground in the Church's society. "Do you take it upon yourself to determine what this court shall believe and what it shall set aside?....This is the highest court of the supreme government of this province, do you know?"(Act III, The Crucible, Arthur Miller). The Librarium has no concern with the millions of refugees that scatter the entire world. All they really want is to try and find the most intelligent of these peasants and convert them to the Librarium's cause. The enthrallment of power and knowledge has been enough for the Librarium to have these recruits abandon contact with their families and friends. If they don't, the other option is death.
          The Crucible is exceptionally insightful play that has helped me gather new ideas and circumstances as I continue to work on my own story. I would recommend The Crucible to anyone interested in authoritarian governments or other oppressive regimes. This along with my other mentor texts can only benefit my final product!