The Crucible

The Stream of Conscience in Arthur Miller's The Crucible

In Arthur Miller's powerful stage play The Crucible, written in 1953 as a metaphor for the McCarthy hearings on communism in America, the idea of conscience is greatly emphasized in many of the main characters. Miller himself once said that The Crucible focuses on "the conflict between man's raw deeds and whether conscience is in fact an organic part of the human being or merely an adjunct of the state or mores of the time" (Bloom 146).

In this play, conscience appears to be based on Christian concepts, especially the ideas of morality, the confession of one's sins and the guilt and penance for these sins. At the beginning of the play, conscience, as an issue of morality, is defined very clearly, for Reverend Parris, "gullible, uncaring, and villainous who cares more about his reputation than truth" (Paton 67), states "a minister is the Lord's man in the parish. . . not to be so lightly crossed and contradicted" (Act 1, Scene 1). Thus, this establishes that theologically, a minister is the ultimate decider of morality in the parish of Salem, Massachusetts, where all of the action of The Crucible takes place. The church, in such a theocratic community, defines conscience; right and...

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