Sarah SaleemMs. KoyaAmerican LiteratureOctober 27, 2019The Theme of Revenge“Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you know I can do it, …and I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down!”(Miller, 20). Abigail’s manipulating words here are able to make the girls listen and follow her commands. Abigail’s strong death threats were overt and able to oblige the girls keep their mouths shut. In the play The Crucible, Arthur Miller uses the theme of revenge to demonstrate how characters would try to get their own retribution by doing an act like accusing others of certain acts. These revengeful acts show their characterization and motives. An example is when Abigail had an affair with John Proctor and then ventures out to get revenge on Elizabeth Proctor by performing witchcraft. Abigail makes accusations on Elizabeth show the reason she wants her revenge. And this is because of her feelings for Proctor. This play occurred during the Salem Witch Trials. These trials were a sequence of events that resulted in executions and hearings of people accused of witchcraft in the towns of Salem Village. These events that occur can be represented as “mass-hysteria”. Throughout the play, all the characters are shown to be having malicious behavior against others and the village. Throughout the entire play, all the characters are portrayed to have hateful behavior towards each other and the village. In the play, Abigail, and Mr. and Mrs. Putnam are some of the characters that seek to get their revenge. In the play, Abigail Williams tries to seek her revenge on the Proctors. At the beginning of the play, Abigail had an affair with John Proctor. Proctor is now married to Elizabeth Proctor. It is known that people can commit dangerous acts when they want to get their revenge. Abigail had an insatiable lust for Proctor and she strongly believes that she should be in Elizabeth’s place. She falsely accuses her of keeping poppets for witchcraft and stabbing her. Abigail also then says that Elizabeth sent a spirit to do wrong harmful acts. Betty talks to Abigail about her wrong act, that Proctor is not informed about. “You did, you did! You drank a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor!”(Miller I. 113-132) This shows how Abigail committed a harmful act which was to kill someone. When Abigail gets questioned by Reverend Parris, she fears she will get into trouble so she tells one lie. Her lie was believable, and then soon realizes that she can use the accusations of the trials to her advantage. Abigail disliked that Elizabeth sent her away from Proctor. For this reason she is vengeful. If the girls were to speak of the truth about what was happening in the forest, then Abigail threatened to kill them. If they betrayed her, she threatened to kill them, which here shows how dangerous her revenge is. Mary Warren says, “She’ll kill me for saying that. Abby’ll charge lechery on you,”(Miller II.427-436) This demonstrates how Abigail made sure all girls are aware of the consequences that will happen if they dare to speak the truth. Mary told the truth to Proctor, who wanted her to tell the truth in court, but Mary refused to do so because she was afraid of Abigail’s death threats. In the court, Abigail makes up the lie and protects her image which is very important to her. Although Abigail tried to get her revenge, her main motive behind her revenge was her reputation that she wanted to keep. Her reputation in the village is very important to her, and this is shown when Reverend Parris is interrogating her. To conclude, Abigail Williams tries to obtain her own revenge on the Proctors for her own personal reasons. In the Crucible, Ann Putnam is trying to get revenge on Rebecca Nurse. Another act of revenge was performed when Ann Putnam gave birth to eight children, but only one child survived. Rebecca Nurse delivered her children and Ann believes a spell was cast on her during delivery. Ms. Putnam says, Rebecca Nurse was the one “You think it God’s work you should never lose a child, nor grandchild either, and I bury all but one?”(Miller I.568-573) This begins to show Mrs. Putnam’s dislike towards Goody Nurse. Ann Putnam is scared because she is protective of her last child. This further shows how this foreshadows that Rebecca Nurse will be put on trial for the murder, witchery and spell casting on the murdered victims. “Ann Putnam ‘Did you not bring the Black Man with you?’ Goody Nurse ‘The Lord knows I have not hurt them. I am an innocent person.’ ‘There is a murderous witch among us’ ‘For murder, she’s charged! For the marvelous and supernatural murder of Goody Putnam’s babies’.”(Miller I. 246-252). She is accused and with the trials going on in the village, the court will believe any accusation, especially made by the Putnam’s because of their well-known image. Rebecca is found guilty of murder and the practice of witchcraft used on the death of the children because of Mrs. Putnam’s accusations. Rebecca Nurse’s punishment was a public hanging in the middle of Salem. This happened because Ann Putnum could not accept that God would choose to take her children while allowing all of Rebecca’s children to survive. So, Rebecca was accused of causing their deaths. Although Mrs. Putnam tried to get her revenge on Rebecca Nurse, her reasoning behind it was her high reputation she wanted to guard. Her husband has a well-known reputation, so she was also trying to keep hers. Mrs. Putnam’s accusation shows how she tries to get her revenge on Rebecca Nurse. Lastly, in the play, Thomas Putnam is trying to get his revenge on Giles Corey and other villagers. He accused the citizens of Salem by saying they put spells and magic on his daughter Ruth. He used his daughter to accuse people whose property he covets. Once these people were found guilty of witchcraft, they were sentenced to death by hanging in the town of Salem. He took advantage of the witchcraft hysteria and his daughter being sick, which then caused the accused people to lose their land. He appears to be acquisitive in his ability to obtain land during his life. Mr. Putnam seeks revenge by taking the land of those who were found guilty and obtained it for personal use. “If Jacobs hangs for a witch he forfeits up his property—that’s the law! And there is none but Putnam with the coin to buy so great a piece. This man is killing his neighbors for their land!” (Miller 2. 190-194). He did this because he wanted to become a wealthy landowner in Salem. This makes him feel powerful because the more people accused, the more land he can buy. Thomas Putnam is trying to get his revenge on Giles Corey by accusation. Giles Corey heard from a man that Ruth gave Putnam a gift of land by accusing George Jacobs. Giles does not want the man to get arrested or any sort of trouble so he doesn’t say who it is. It is conveyed here that Giles has proof of Mr. Putnam’s greedy act, but he was unable to substantiate his claim to the court because of his status. Corey was distraught because of this, but he had to do this for the sake of his children. While this may be true, Mr. Putnam tried to get his revenge on Giles Corey and others, his purpose behind this was his reputation that he wanted to keep across the village. He is known as a wealthy landowner and he doesn’t want his image to be changed or looked at differently. To conclude, Mr. Putnam attempted to get his revenge on Giles Corey and other villagers through different acts.In The Crucible, it is clear that Abigail, Mrs. Putnam, and Mr. Putnam were some of the characters that tried to get revenge on the other characters for their own personal reasons. Abigail Williams was trying to get revenge on the Proctors. Mrs. Putnam was getting revenge on Rebecca Nurse. And Mr. Putnam was getting revenge on Giles Corey and other villagers. The deep paranoia that these characters held within themselves caused them to make accusations with no actual evidence against others. Most often it is believed that revenge is a dangerous act of emotion and that getting retribution will help. Revenge is a way of gaining closure after a wrong which some may use for their own personal issues.MLA Citations:Miller, Arthur. The Crucible: A Play In Four Acts. New York: Penguin Books, 1976. Print.
Table of Contents