Monday, September 22, 2008

Evil, The Crucible, and Us

If you asked Arthur Miller to define "evil," what do you think he would say?

How would you define "evil" (if you believe in it)?

Thinking about the articles we've read and their connections to The Crucible, what do you think is the greatest "evil" that our society faces today? Explain your thinking.

71 comments:

AustinD said...

I think Miller would define evil as giving in to lies. As Miller potrayed The Witch trials, I'd say that is what that divides the two sides. Those who are "evil" has bought the lies span by the series of odd occurances (no matter where they stood before hand) and used it to their advantage. Those who aren't tend to be those who will not give in to the peer presure at the cost of their lives.

For me, Evil is when someone counteres what I believe is right. From common criminals to dictators in other countries, most evil people have oppinions that isn't what I believe is right (the law needs to be upheld, people shouldn't suicide for religion, etc.).

sdermody said...

I believe from what we have read Miller would define evil as; someone who corrupts a system for their own benefit causing pain to others. I saw Abby as the evil one in the story and she did exactly that- corrupted her village and hurt innocent people for personal benefit and satisfaction.

I believe evil is someone or thing that causes pain or suffering of others.

Looking back to all we have studied thus far, I think the biggest evil facing our society is the conflict in the middle east. It not only is killing soldiers, but creating tension (politically) and suffering (economically) in America.

morganw said...

I believe Arthur Miller would define "evil" as non-existant. Based on The Crucible, it seems that he didn't believe in evil at all and thought that all of our actions were merely the malicious, vengence-seeking parts of human nature showing themselves.

I would define evil as something that is purpose driven with the intent of causing mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual pain to something else.

I think the greatest "evil" that our society faces today is the evil amoung us. The evil that hates the individuals amoung society and intends to hurt them.

chelseas said...

I think that Arthur Miller would define evil as a factor that causes people to feel pain and turn against one another. I think that Arthur Miller is trying to show the "evil" side of humans, and show that it is human nature to have this feeling. I also think that this evil causes some people to triumph, while others are defeated by evil, and by the power that lies have on one another. Like Sabrina, I thought that Abigail was the most evil one in the story because she caused fear and restlessness in her town. I think that she used the evil inside her to bring down others by telling lies, and by doing this, she was able to control the court and the charges against people. She seemed to get some self-satisfaction out of seeing her fellow village people getting accused because of her lies.

I would define evil as something that drives people to cause harm and pain of some sort, to others, intentionally.

I think that the biggest evil that our society faces is the evil forces that propel people throughout the world. I think that there is an evil force that causes people to act the way that they do, which is especially true in other countries. For example, some countries believe that it is honorable to die for your country, by committing suicide, and such. I think that many evils are portrayed in a manner in which they cause people to think evil thought about certain decisions, and that this causes our society to have an evil force about it.

Ryad said...

I think Miller would define evil as going against what you believe is right and good. Proctor is made to seem like the hero when he cannont give in and lie at the end of the Crucible. He is portrayed as strong and moral as is Giles. Those who gave in are barely menchiond and have no sense of grandure.

I believe in evil but I have a hard time defining it. I suppose I define it as a person who seriously injurs others, whenther phisically or mentally, for their own personal enjoyment.

I'm not sure that I can pick one single evil that we go up against today. I suppose our greatest evil is our own predjudices against others. Because when we are truly predjudice we don't care if the other person is killed or hurt and we may even get a small satisfaction knowing that there is one less of that kind of person alive.

melissaz said...

Evil in this story is portrayed as something that is very hard to overcome and an aspect found in everyone. Miller seems to place evil as this little "fire" inside of everyone. With the right circumstances, the fire can get larger and blown way out of proportion, and it is hard to get back under control. It is something that seems to always be there. This can be seen with how the circumstances caused so many people to turn to their evil side, very few being able to control this.

It is hard to put a sentence to evil because it is something that is so strong and heavy. I think that evil is the absence of good and happiness; a state where something happens to harm another where it could be avoided. Evil is something that sadly, I see will always have its place in society. In some situations it has grown more than others, but in most instances there is always some flicker of evil.

marissas said...

I think that Arthur Miller would define evil as anyone who is willing to betray others for personal salvation. I believe that he feels like people in The Crucible, such as Abigail and the others who accused one another to save their own names, are evil. They take the lives of other people everytime they make a false accusation. They put thier own selfish interests first, and Miller may have used this illistration to teach us what these actions of self-interests can do to corrupt a society.

I don't know if I really believe that people can be defined as "evil". I think someone can do evil things but difference of opinion keeps someone from being "evil".

I think that the greatest "evil" that our society faces today is the lack of freedom across the country. This includes all the communist and socialist countries around the world, and those with power-hungry dictators. These types of countries are the main reason why terrorism and war occurs, and I believe these things would all be reduced greatly if all the world had the freedoms that we have in the United States.

hannahl said...

It is really hard to go into Arthur Miller's mind and consider what his definition of evil would be. I think he would say that evil is simply when one is not true to themselves and hurts others by being untruthful. That doesn't sound very good, but its a hard concept to grasp.

As for my definition, I don't really believe in "good" and "evil" because I don't think the world is black and white, nothing can truly be classified into either good or evil. But, for the sake of argument, I would say "evil" is when you personal ventures interfere in a harmful way with another person purposefully. Humans are just animals, so we have the nature of being competitive, wanting to stay alive, and killing/hurting to keep the body and possessions safe. So I don't think this is an "evil" tendency, it is just nature. Those who ignore this nature are all the better for it, and strong in my eyes, but no one is really evil.

As far as society goes, I think that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Corny, I know, but seriously, what we have been studying clearly shows how fear can turn "good" people into "evil" people in an instant. I think it is a lot easier for humans to control each other through fear than through true leadership, which is the root of almost all of the problems we have in the world. We are driven by the desire to make sure our fears aren't realized, and that makes us vulnerable in so many ways.

ParkerH said...

Geez. What a topic. Anyways, I actually don't know what Arthur Miller would think about "evil". If I had to guess, I would say that he has to believe in evil in some form or another, but as to his definition, I have no earthly clue. I really don't. Sorry.

I read a few of the comments about defining evil, and I agree with more of the comments than I disagree with. Lots of those that were up at this time had something to do with harming another, and usually intentionally. I have to agree with that. I do have to add some things though. I would add anything that is malicious, deceitful, hateful, or some combination thereof is evil.

I had to think really, really hard about this one (for people that know me, that wasn't sarcastic...), but I thought of some things that I might put as being "great evils" or whatever in our society. These few things are pride, stubbornness, and selfishness, as they lead to everything else. Let me explain a bit. For instance, if you think you're better than someone, isn't it a lot more common to treat that "lower" person badly? I would say yes to that. Of course, that isn't the only example, but it is one that I think makes sense.

Oliviak said...

I would have to agree with sdermody about what Author Miller would say evil is, it is something/someone that corrupts something for its own benefit.

I would also define evil in the same way it is something that corrupts what is good for its own benefit.

I really think that evil in our society comes down to us as human beings, kind of like parkerh said. Today we look to benefit ourselves not always other people. We not only can cause corruptions but most of today’s problems come back to us as human beings like global warming humans had to have played a role in that.

alexf said...

Agreeing with many of the other comments, I think that if Arthur Miller had to define “evil” he would say it is the act of complete selfishness and of self-preservation. I think that he would say that these need to be extreme to be considered evil, but disregarding others to no limit so that you can protect yourself would be considered completely evil. Also, I think that he’d say that lying takes up a huge part of evil. You must lie to be evil, but that that isn’t the entire definition.

Agreeing with MelissaZ and MarissaS, evil is the absence of happiness and goodness, but not one person can be defined as evil. I think that no can go as far as to be considered “evil.”

Finally, I think that our “egos” are the evils that society faces today. Our (obviously bad) egos cause us to become selfish and focus on our own self-preservation. We become obsessed with ourselves and don’t consider others in the least bit.

shannanp said...

I believe that Arhtur Miller would characterize evil by people's actions. Just like in The Crucible, how he sort of makes the reader either like or dislike a character, dependent on their actions.
I think that evil is a really hard word for me to write my own definition for, however I think evil is a state of mind that people can go in and out of depending on their veiws of the outside world at the moment.
I think that the greatest evil is taking away people's freedom, especially if they don't deserve it. In The Crucible all of the accused's freedom is taken away for no real solid reason and it is undeserving. In Natural Born Killers, I think that their loss of freedom was completely justified and allowing them to keep their freedom could have been incredibly dangerous to other people.

KateP said...

I agree with austind and sdermody with Miller's evil definition. I think that Miller would define evil as corrupting the society just to benefit yourself and a huge part of it is lies.

I would define evil kind of in the same way. It is doing something bad that you know will hurt others, just to save yourself.

The biggest evil facing our society today is jealousy and always wanting to be on top. I think that this is true for our generation especially. The media has a large part in this.

jordans said...

I think Miller would define evil as living a lie and not being true to yourself. I think it would be considered evil to manipulate other and take advantage of certain situations. I think he would define evil as abusing power and using it for bad and to help people. He would define evil as letting fear take control of your rational thinking and putting other people’s needs below your own and being selfish.

I believe is not being empathetic, I believe it is not being selfless and not sacrificing things that mean a lot to you for the good of others. I think being evil is using your head before your heart.

I think the biggest evil our society has is creating problems that don’t exist to fulfill our own emotions. I think evil can be created by people not communicating what they want and how they feel and the truth and honesty gets lost along with people’s rational minds. I believe our society’s greatest evil could also be technology, it distracts from truly living and experiencing great things and we don’t have to work for much of anything anymore. It has taken out the challenge and de romanticized growing up.

amyw said...

I think he would say that evil is a part of us that appears when we let jealousy take over, or when circumstances happen that make it come out. For example, when Abigail was jealous of Elizabeth for being married to the man she loved, she set out to get Elizabeth accused of witchcraft and consequently killed. Miller would probably say that evil isn't naturally present in us, but comes out when the circumstances provoke it.

Laurenc said...

I think Miller would define evil as selfishness. Everyone in The Crucible was blaming others to help themselves or keep their image clean. I think he would probably mention something about blame being evil too which relates very well to all of the articles we read. In Natural Born Killers everyone blamed someone else...whether it was the film, the teenagers themselves, or the teens complicated past.

I would have to say that evil is in a sense human nature. It is natural to put ourselves before others and I agree that blame is evil as well though I think it really is a natural thing to do.

Self preservation is definately and has always been the number one thing on the majority of the human population's list of things to do.

macm said...

I think Miller would define evil as the manipulation of others for purely selfish reasons. To me, this is what the crucible is about, and Miller writes about these manipulators with a scathing disposition.

I find it hard to define evil, because to me it has so many facets. Some actions can be classified as evil, but every situation is different. I feel that since evil is not a word to be taken lightly, it is one that cannot be described in any concise way.

meganu said...

I think Arthur Miller would define evil as humanity. Every person is inherently evil. It's not anything they can help, but it's true.

I would have to agree with Miller. I think if people were pushed to the extremes, they would be selfish and cruel to everyone else, thus they would be 'evil'.

I think the greatest evil that our society faces is humanity. Everything happens because we want it to happen. Not necessarily ourselves, but the people around us. All the evils in this world were created from the people who live here.

kennaw said...

I think Arthur Miller would define evil as people who do harmful things to other. The people who perform witchcraft were being evil and performing evil because they are trying to hurt another villager. That's why they would be hung- for punishment.

I would define evil in the same way. But I wouldn't do as harsh a punishment for it.

MattN said...

I belieive that Miller would say that evil is someones trait. Like Abigail in the Crucible. It seems to me that he rather describes people instead of feelings and thoughts to be evil. I believe the oppisite that thoughts and actions are evil instead of people. I believe that nobody can be totally pure evil all the time. Only sometimes people choose to take evil actions or believe/think evil. I believe that in society a greater evil is our selves as the human race. We are making steps forward every day, but for every step we take forward, it seems we take 2 steps back either from economy, or war, or trashed relationships with other countries!

shannanp said...

Are there any people who don't believe in evil? Why not?

mollyd said...

I think he would say that evil is trying to mainpulate people in a wrong way and cause others to suffer in the process. I agree with some of the above comments that evil is also making people suffer for selfish motives and for that persons satisfaction.

amyw said...

I think it's interesting to think about what we inherited from the Puritans---so what have we inherited from them? Any ideas?

alexf said...

shannanP~
I believe in evil, I just don't think that people can be evil. I think that, say, the devil is evil, but people are not capable of being completly evil.

kennaw said...

Shan~ I believe that there are definitely people who don't believe in evil. They may have such a peaceful mindset they believe that there could be no evil in this world. But, I think it moreover depends on what you believe in.

Laurenc said...

shannanp - I think everyone believes in some kind of evil...unless you're some sort of super hippie..

sorry if hippie isn't politically correct..

anyway, everyone's idea of evil varies but I think in general everyone agrees to certain kinds of evil. Not many people would say killing children isn't evil for example.

marissas said...

Shannon-- I don't know if I really believe that people can be defined as "evil". I think someone can do evil things but difference of opinion keeps someone from being "evil".

Ryad said...

I like what Hannah said about inheriting how hard we work from the Puritans. That's really interesting. I agree with it we are always running and don't take time to relax. What do you think?

roser said...

We have inherited their basic principles, just not acted upon them in such an extreme manner.

amyw said...

shannanp---I kind of believe in evil, but I think it's more metaphorical than literal. Like I believe that people can have evil tendencies, but overall I don't take it too seriously.

Laurenc said...

amyw - I think we inherited the puritans views of self image. Not to the extent they had of course because we are definately more individual but still. People worry about how others view them WAY too much. and certain people go to incredible lengths to look good in the eyes of others so they aren't singled out.

so pretty much it's conformity we inherited..

chelseas said...

I think that our society has some very different principles than other countries. I think that our society is much more strict, and fast-paced than other countries. If Miller would have written this today, it might have been different due to our technology-based society, as well as new evils that our society faces.

MattN said...

I agree with Marissa I believe that no one can be defined as an evil person, but they can rather do evil things or think evil thoughts. No Matter how many evil things someone does, they can not be considered as an evil person.

melissaz said...

I think Miller talks alot about the evil and influence of conforming. He talks about the evil many people are faced with, choosing between personal beliefs or society. People are faced with the decision daily to make their own choices or give in to the ideas of socitey. The members of this play had to face this on the much larger scale of life and death.

roser said...

But on the flip-side, does anyone think our society doesn't work as hard as the Puritans?

alexf said...

ryad~
I totally agree. Down time is very rare to come by these days because we are always doing something! It kind of stinks because relaxing is important, but if I really think about it, having something to do is always better than having nothing to do! The Puritains were totally like that.

AustinD said...

I really wouldn't say that we inherated all of our scheduals from their beliefs. I actually don't think we inherated much from them besides a high level of religion and maybe our scheduals (but not by much).

lizc said...

I think that we inhereted our repressed sexuality from them. We don't openly talk with people about those kinds of things unless they are really close. Also, on TV we are much more conservative about those things than Europeans. If you turn on a TV there you could posssibly see nudity right away. We seem to protect ourselves more from things like that.

jordans said...

I believe in evil, I think it’s everywhere and in everyone and it will always plague our lives. I don’t think evil is always as extreme as people make it out to be but I think it’s something hard to label because it so case by case and its everywhere.

whitneys said...

alexf ~ I strongly disagree with you on the point of people's inablity to be evil. Miller clearly portrays this in The Crucible and there are other examples in history, like Hitler and the Nazis, that portray human's being evil. If some people are not evil, then how is the world not perfect?

MattN said...

Chelseas- I agree i think that it was a totally different circumstance back when Miller actually wrote this. What kind of evils do you think specifically face people today?!?

shannanp said...

Alex-I agree. However; I think that actions and motives can be evil, but not the people.

Kenna-I also think that it depends on what you believe. I don't really understand the explanation of people who don't believe in it, because I don't understand that view. I think the fact of believing that there is evil in the world explains so much of why such terrible things happen-such as 9/11

amyw said...

laurenc---Exactly! They worried about what people thought about their level of piousness and if they had an upright reputation or not. And we worry about whether or not we have the right clothes or listen to the right music or whatever. And "keeping up with the Joneses"---we always want to have more than everyone else. So yes, how we're perceived has definitely been inherited.

KiraW said...

I think that our society struggles with jelousy similarly to in The Crucible. People will do whatever they can to get what they want. For example, today people tend to compare themselves to each other and not many people are very good at just looking at themeslves and being happy. I know that I find myself comparing myself to others sometimes, but when I learn to look at me for me, then I really just enjoy life more.

Laurenc said...

ryad - I agree. I think people in today's world work way too hard. We let our jobs or our studies consume us and end up forgetting about everything else. One example is working mothers who put their newborn babies in daycare...but that's a whole different argument

meganu said...

I think people are evil in the sense that they're selfish and self serving. Sure, with little things people could care less about themselves and only be concerned about others. But when humans are pushed to the extreme they will try to save themselves at all cost. No matter who they have to step on to save their own lives, people will do it so that they are saved.

sdermody said...

Shannon- I do think that there are people who don't believe in evil. For some reason the movie The Exersism of Emily Rose comes to mind. There was a particular scene where it was calimed that, the people who fear the evil the most are thoes who don't believe in them. I think that that is an interesting quote because how can you be scared of something that you believe in? But as much as it doesn't make much sense the idea is seen everyday.

mollyd said...

I like what Hannah had to say about how we always feel that we need to be in one group or another. It is very hard to be in between and if a person is, they usually get noticed a lot for it and sometimes it is not positive attention.

MattN said...

roser- i totally agree people just do nothing cuz they have technology, and they make sketchster dog companies and don't work as hard as they had to to make a living back then!

chelseas said...

Rose-I think that it is different work. Back then, they had more physical work that was much harder than that of today. However, I think that we have harder mental work today, and we have more to worry about because of modern technology and such.

KateP said...

amyw- I agree with rose. I think that we have inherited many of their basic principles. We are slowly staring to change though, and not act upon those principles as much.

Madisont said...

I believe that evil is more of a form of human nature. I don't understand why we have to control evil, and put it into categories. There is just no way you could do it and be completely right. I believe that the root of human nature is evil.

We say that human nature is to be selfish, be prideful, and follow the Devil's rules. I've read all your responses..and I agree with some, but I truthfully believe that just about every bit of human nature is evil.

We are CONSTANTLY fighting temptation, every day, every minute. We could just as easily ditch a class as we could go to it. We could just as easily get sexually involved instead of staying pure. There are so many ways we have experienced and tried to resist evil.

It is life based, there is no way to get out of it, all we can do is continue to fight it.

amyw said...

lizc---I agree. We see sexuality as this extremely taboo thing, while Europeans, well, don't. Even when a teacher mentions it in class, in any way, directly or indirectly, everyone starts giggling uncomfortably (which I think is kind of ridiculous...)

shannanp said...

AmyW- Would you define an evil tendency as an action?

Whitney-I think that people aren't evil, like Hitler wasn't an evil person underneath it all, he just had evil motives and a distorted view of the world. I believe that evil can be mistaken as a different view on situations. What is evil to one person might be completely normal to another.

lizc said...

alexf- I see where you are coming from with the whole devil being the only evil thing, but I also disagree. The devil tempts people and makes them perform acts of evil. He uses people and thus that allows people to be evil.

KiraW said...

Mollyd, I totally agree with you. We do have a hard time trying to mix with different "types" of people.

Ryad said...

alexf- I have such a hard time finding free time because I have so many things expected of me. I'm trying to do my homework, work on the play, and clock hours for driving. I havn't had time to hang out with friends and weeks. And I probably won't for another month and most people I know are as busy as me or busier.

Liz- I kind of agree with what you said about repressed sexuality but I also sort of disagree. Sex has quite frankly become a source of entertainment. Magazines love to talk about when people have had an affair and it's used for comedy or drama in the arts. Back then it would never ever have been even menchioned.

Laurenc said...

kiraw - I agree. I know I've looked at other people and said things like wow I wish I was as pretty as her or as rich as him, etc..but it doesn't serve any purpose except depressing you.

But on the same note I think it's human nature to compare ourself to others. It's something that everyone has done going way back into history. Kings wanted others King's land and so on and so forth

roser said...

Sabrina- interesting connection...I was thinking how most people, I think, believe in death, and some are pretty scared about that

EmilyJ said...

I think Miller would define evil as siding with or even associating with the devil. In "The Crucible", characters who associate with the devil are blamed and accused for doing terrible things. Miller made the devil seem like the ultimate source of evil throughout the book.

I would define evil as rebelling against society. This might include breaking the rules/laws and not cooperating with others around them. Society needs to be able to conform together to be successful in my opinion.

I think the greatest "evil" that our society faces today is discrimination against race, gender, anything. Sometimes, we are not even aware we are doing it, but we are such a stereotypical society. I think it is important to not take sides and to make an extra effort to see everything and everyone in a positive light. I think this would eliminate a lot of evil from our society.

amyw said...

shannanp---Evil tendencies can lead to evil actions.

kennaw said...

Shan~ But what makes them evil? I don't want to come across as I think they were good because obviously they weren't and they cause much damage. But, are they more bad people? or are they actually evil if that makes sense. Because there's a difference between being evil and being a bad person. They did terrible things but I don't think it was necessarily considered evil. They were harmful and destructive people.

So, where does the definition of evil come into play? Who and what is considered evil in this generation? Where does evil cross the line of being bad?

chelseas said...

Matt-I think that some of the evils that our society faces today include terrorism, fear of the unknown, blaming others when a crisis occurs, and many others. What other evils do you guys think that our society faces???

amyw said...

Also, Puritans were afraid of anything that was even remotely different from them, and so they eschewed whatever was different. I see that a lot in our culture too and even in our school (don't deny it...)

shannanp said...

sdermody-I like you connection-that really sheds a new light on the idea of evil. I also think that people who don't believe in the concept of evil are scared of it because they really aren't extremely convinced that it doesn't exist. They could be scared that their disbelief will cause something bad to happen if evil really does exist.

MattN said...

Chelsea- I agree but i think that the human race ourselves are more of a danger then the things you said.

Laurenc said...

madisont - but it's a very interesting thing to think about..who says what's right and wrong? (hypothetically)

were the commandments just invented by someone wanting a more peaceful life or is there really a god? eek, I'm getting controversial here...

anyway my point is how do we know it's really evil temptation's we're fighting? Aren't things like sex just natural animalistic impulses?

alexf said...

Whitney S~
I get what you're saying, but "evil" to me is the trait of being completly "not good." Saying this, I think that while Hitler and the Nazi's were totally and completly out of line, horrible, cruel... (you get the point), Hitler himself was not evil. This may be a touchy subject and I'm totally not trying to offend anyone, but I don't think that he himself was evil. I think that his ideas were evil

roser said...

Mattn- yes I am in accordance with that. But I think if some sketchsters want to make sketch dog companies they should go for it

Madisont said...

LaurenC- Again, yes, sexual impulses are part of our human animalistic sense of being. But, again, that IS human nature. Human nature is what compels us to get involved sexually. Again, the impulse, you must try and resist that temptation. Our human nature makes us weak, it lies to us, it gives us instincts that, if not fulfilled or excelled in the right way, are used for completely wrong ways.

I also don't believe in a black and white definition of right and wrong. Right and wrong are so different to each individual, it would be impossible to come up with a summary identity. I feel that right and wrong are what you feel in your heart. If you feel compelled to do something, though it may be evil, it's what you usually end up doing. It's your nature, it's how we were born.

As for the God thing, I am a Christian, and believing so, I know there is a God. Though people may not agree, I also feel that yes, the commandments are there, they are stone, they are rules to be followed. But, they are the basics. These "rules" are merely guidelines to helping you resist temptation, helping you go against your own human nature.

The reason God gave us those was to help us, not hinder us.

((And if my response offended anyone, please do not hesitate to tell me. I will try as hard as possible not to incorporate some of that into other answers.))

morgant said...

I definitely think Miller was trying to define the evil as selfishness. Everybody is selfish down to a point. With the witch trials, everybody didn't want to be accused, and being selfish, accused others instead of throwing blame on themself.

Evil to me is a lot of things in this world. But, to sum it up I think evil is something done to something or someone else for selfish reasons, or to accomplish something underhandedly. If that makes sense at all...

In the recent texts that we have studied, evil is definitely apparent. With the "Unnatural Killers", we tried to blame the movie. And also in the Crucible, people would blame others for selfish reasons.