The Quest for Puritan Idealism

The Puritan’s mission in America was to create a city on a hill. This paper analyzes how this idealism and quest for perfection resulted in the death of so many residents as described in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”.

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, was written in the context of the historical Salem Witch Trials, and shows many innocent people being accused of crimes and sins they did not commit. Miller wrote The Crucible to show society has been blinded in response to witch hunts.
In The Crucible Miller describes the life of a puritan community in Salem as being rigid and somber, and for allowing little room for people to break from the monotony and strict work ethic that dominated this society. Furthermore, the Puritan religious ethic informed all aspects of society, promoting safeguards against immorality at any cost to personal privacy or justice. The Puritans of Massachusetts were a religious faction who, after years of suffering persecution in England, developed a rigid sense of community. This puritan society is characterized by a paradox which seems to be a major theme of The Crucible: in order to keep the community together, members of that community believe that they must interfere in others’ affairs to guard against immorality. In this book Miller writes about an intense paranoia over morality typical of the Puritan community and about their belief that they are in some sense chosen people who aim at founding a New Jerusalem (The Crucible p.5), a New City of God in the New World. In addition, this community is one that promotes interference in all personal matters and intensely criticizes any sinful conduct without allowing for any legitimate expurgation of sin, contrary to the Catholics. For this reason, the witch trials may be considered as a mean to break from this strict atmosphere and publicly confess one’s sins through accusation. For example, the confession of Proctor of having had a sexual relationship with Abigail probably relieves him from the burden of hiding his sin.