Greed is an important theme found in most books, plays, poems, etc. Greed is the intense selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food. This is also a phenomenon one may experience from childhood to adulthood. In the play The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, there are multiple different types of greed encountered throughout the play; greed (in its regular form), and greed in vengeance. The play took place during the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts during the year 1692. During the trials, many people from the town were falsely accused of being witches or being involved in witchcraft due to lies that sprouted from greed and envy of others. Greed plays such a big role in the story, that some speculate it may have been the cause of the whole problem. Reverend Parris is one of the greediest characters in the story. Parris is the minister of Salem’s church, and uncle of the teenager Betty. At the beginning of the play, it was disgusted that many people did not like him that much. Some of the townspeople believe him to be conceited and focused more on earthy things other than God. One example of his greedy behavior includes his need for the golden candlesticks in the church. Even though they already had functional candlesticks made by Francis Nurse, he still continuously begged the church for them. He even took advantage of his position in the church and would mention it in his sermons as he preached. They eventually got the golden candlesticks, but that still was not enough for Parris. Over time, he began to complain that he was not making enough money per year. He would bring up how he left his business in Barbados to come to Salem in humble circumstances. Parris thought so highly of himself that he did not think he should have had to pay for firewood. Later is was brought up that he wanted the deed to his house so he could completely own it. After these accounts, the people started to see more of Parris’ selfishness and his love for the things of this world. His greed for having a high position in the community also showed when he found out about Betty dancing in the forest and getting sick. While she was ill, he was more concerned with protecting his name in the situation rather than trying to make her healthy. These examples were just some of the ways people showed greed for money and wealth in the play. Abigail Williams was also another person to demonstrate a great amount of greed in the story. Abigail was a seventeen-year-old, who used to work for the Proctor family as a maid and was considered a very beautiful young woman. The most obvious example she was greedy/envy for was for John Proctor. This envy for him eventually resulted in them having an affair and Abigail catching feelings for him. Despite all that, John was married to Elizabeth Proctor. Throughout the play, Abigail was constantly trying to get John to like her, or permanently get rid of Elizabeth so she could have been with John. Some of the ways her greed for John affected her to lead her to the idea of witchcraft. She desired john so bad that she ended up drinking blood and a potion in the forest that was supposed to kill Elizabeth. While she and some others were in the secrecy of the forest, they danced around (which was extremely frowned upon), chanted chants and Tituba tried to conjure the dead. This was also the first real evidence of witchcraft happening within Salem. Another form of greed Abigail demonstrates, is for attention. When she was finally confronted by the court she confessed. But in that society, snitches were praised, so the named names of people she “saw with the devil”, even though they were all lies. After she continued to name names of people who “sold themselves to the devil” the court began to respect her and put her more in authority. With all that happened, she was getting the attention she desired, even though she probably knew she was digging herself into a hole of lies she knew she wouldn’t be able to get out of.
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