Belonging: the Crucible
Belonging is a far-reaching yet intricate concept that is powerfully explored in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. It illustrates a range of elements of belonging, where it can be compared and contrasted with concepts in other texts such as Oliver Parker’s film Dorian Gray and Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s poem We Are Going. These texts present ideas of power and isolation, which subsequently lead to individuals either belonging or not coming from the community. Through the use of a range of literary, film and remarkable techniques, the authors can stress and communicate the comparable (or varying) elements of belonging found in each text.
Power is an evident theme in The Crucible that suggests it manages the fragile town of Salem. As such, an individual’s sensation of belonging is affected by Salem’s theocratic and reliable government. The characterisation of Hale enables the audience to realise this, as he immediately belongs and assumes a position of power. Initially, Hale is the driving force of the witch trials, as he represents the theocracy, is informed and has books that are “weighted with authority”. This feeds his ego as the ‘expert’ and demonstrates his ability to put in power onto the townspeople.
He also stresses that “Faith is a fortress; no fracture in a fortress may be accounted small”. This clearly reveals that you either belong or do not belong in the community, which those who select not to belong do so at their own peril. However, Hale’s regret grows throughout the play when he realises the bitterness of the accusations and metaphorically explains his actions with “What I touched with my bright self-confidence it passed away, and where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood streamed up”. This seemingly shows the extent to which Hale can apply power and his ensuing sensations of regret.
Ultimately, Hale concerns his faith and eliminates himself from the sense of belonging fostered in Salem. His assertion of “I knock these proceedings, I quit this court! “emphasise his withdrawal from the community and choice not to conform. The exact same concept of power can be compared to Oliver Parker’s film Dorian Gray, and recommends that there can be ravaging consequences when one permits themselves to be affected by others in order to belong. Since Dorian possesses wealth, appeal and fountain of youth, he is a powerful but vain character.
Being a newcomer, Dorian wants to belong and so for that reason, he allows himself to be influenced by Henry Wotten’s hedonistic way of life. When Dorian reveals “Possibly I ought to nail my soul to the devil’s change”, he ponders the idea of adhering in order to sustain power and belong. Dorian does ultimately follow Henry’s example and ends up being accepted by society. Parker likewise uses the method of slow motion to stress this. When Dorian enters and announces “Well here I am”, time momentarily slows in order to highlight his power and influence.
Dorian’s good friends, who are now old and bitter, are awestruck by the sight of him. As such, his sense of belonging is increased due to the adoration and acceptance he gets from society. However, Dorian eventually develops a conscience and acknowledges he has actually led a sinful life. Parker uses the motif of a deteriorating painting to show this. The painting advises Dorian that he ought to preserve his own values and to start with belonging to himself before coming from society. As an outcome, he realises the unfavorable consequences of trying to conform and loses his power by ruining the painting as a sign of self-belonging.
Seclusion is another concept explored in The Crucible, recommending that indivuals can face barriers to belonging, which therefore result in sensations of alienation. Abigail and her circle of good friends are the ones who feel the most loneliness since they are young and unmarried. This requires them to secretly rebel and dance in the woods. For Abigail, the requirement for acceptance is shown through her affair with John Proctor. Miller juxtaposes love and desire to highlight their differences. Abigail’s exclamation of “You liked me John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you enjoy me!” programs her repeating of the word ‘love’.
Nevertheless, Proctor only uses ‘lust’ to explain their relationship. As a result, the audience sees that Abigail is a character who is constantly rejected with a desperate requirement to belong. Furthermore, Abigail’s weeping of “Kid! How do you call me child! “emphasise her failed effort at belonging, and recommends that the only method for a lady to be accepted in society is to be a spouse. John Proctor is the reverse of Abigail and eventually picks not to belong. His words “I can not mount the gibbet like a saint. It is a fraud. I am not that man” are metaphorical and symbolize his rejection of the Salem justice system.
Although he believes he is not worthy of anything due to his affair with Abigail, Proctor ultimately discovers “a shred of goodness” in himself by maintaining his own worths and choosing to belong to himself. His redemption is also shown through Miller’s phase directions. The drumroll crash and streaming sunlight in the final scene contrasts with previous scenes and signifies that he has actually done the best thing by choosing to die and belong to himself instead of sign himself to lies. In comparison to The Crucible, Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s poem We Are Going also communicates styles of isolation.
Likewise to Abigail, the Aboriginal personality faces a barrier to belonging. The alienation of which the personality feels is due to the white settlers and the substantial loss of culture and identity. “Numerous white males rush about like ants” is an example of a simile that suggests that the settlers are hectic and stressed out. This is a contrast to standard aboriginal life, and reveals the varying point of views between the inhabitants and the storyteller. Here, the juxtaposition of the 2 ethnic groups is parallel to Abigail and Proctor’s view on love and lust, and reinforces the idea of isolation.
Furthermore, Noonuccal uses repetition, especially with the word “Gone” to emphasis the lost feelings of belonging. Noonuccal writes: “The scrubs are gone, the eagle is gone, the bora ring is gone” to stress the loss of culture and connection with the land. The poem also uses cumulative first-person narration to provide the audience a personal understanding on the disappointments of not belonging. “We are going” are the three words in the title and conclusion. It indicates that the aboriginals are not invite in their homeland and will release the past and their old methods.
This echoes the idea of belonging to one’s self, which is found in The Crucible. Like Proctor, the aboriginals choose not to conform and choose to leave in order to maintain their uniqueness and “self belonging”. The Crucible displays scenarios where human beings have the need for power and acceptance. These ideas of belonging (or not belonging) can likewise be compared in Dorian Gray and We Are Going through a range of remarkable, movie and literary methods. For that reason, these concepts are delicately communicated with a higher effect on the audience’s understanding of the concept of belonging.