History shows that the story which an author writes must often pertain to actual events in some way or another. Everything from historical books, tothe most seemingly far-fetched science fiction have their roots in some form of reality.
Arthur Miller, one of the greatest and most well known playwrights of the twentieth century bases many of his characters off of real,living people. This can easily be seen in his world-renowned play, The Crucible, which tells the story of the colonial Salem Witch Trials Essay. The story has many characters, all of whom vary from one another in one way or another. These variances are very much like those of real colonial people,which is what Miller was trying to do in creating a realistic play. Some of the most well known colonial Americans are of course the early American writers, such as William Byrd, Jonathan Edwards, and Benjamin Franklin, all of whom have personalities like those of characters in The Crucible.
The characters of The Crucible have powerful characteristics that vary from thevery pious, to the downright evil and avaricious, which are very much like those of the people of the day. To lovers of great literature, the name Thomas Putnam stirs up images of a grasping land baron who has, no morals, no principles, and no love for the human race, but rather, only a love for money and power, and to disgrace the name of others. Some believe that the man known as Thomas Putnam is merely an exaggerated personification of the sixteenth century writer, William Byrd. Byrd, who also had many land holdings in his native land of the American South, is very well known for his classic book of observations, The History of the Dividing Line, which can be found in almost any book lovers collection.
William Byrd was a money loving man, and wielded a great deal of power in his day, but all the money he had could not buy him a place in heaven. Byrd was a bit of an epicure, and thus lived for the present, never thinking about what there is after death, or as he says, “I neglected my prayers, but had milk for breakfast” (Byrd 49). This quote clearly shows that Byrd cared little for prayer, yet when it came to what to eat, he was all ears. However, William Byrd did admit when he had neglected his prayers, unlike the volatile Thomas Putnam, who would live the lie of going to church, and then tear down everything which The Bible stands for by damning his fellowman to the gallows with accusations of witchery, and also with his powerful support of the trials. Putnam was also a man who enjoyed little in life, aside from power, wealth, and the suffrage of his myriad of enemies.
This deep set hatred is displayed when Miller tells of Thomas having a minister, George Burroughs, jailed for debts which he did not owe, only because Burroughsbecame minister, and Putnam’s brother-in-law did not. Thus, one can see that Arthur Miller truly did base his character, Thomas Putnam, from a popularly held personality of the day, which many still hold to these modern times. Aside from the greed which many held in America’s early day, fierce piety also abounded. Miller utilizes the character of Reverend Hale to display this fervent belief in God, which some see as almost fanatical.
Hale, as with all of Arthur Miller’s characters, was based on the devout attitude that many of the old fashioned Puritan ministers held. One of the most famous Puritan ministers was Jonathan Edwards, whose famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” scared many Americans into submissiveness to the church. In The Crucible, John Hale is a well-respected man who is summoned to Salem for the witch hunt because he had just dealt with a witchin his own parish. Like Senator Joseph McCarthy being called to seek out communists, Reverend Hale views his trip to Salem as a beloved errand in afield which he believes he holds expert knowledge in.
Like the fictional character Reverend John Hale, the real life minister Jonathan Edwards held himself on an esteemed pedestal with the likes of Socrates and Plato. Edwards has been known throughout history for his extreme measures, and like Hale, he truly believed that he was doing good. Jonathan Edwards kept his reverent beliefs until the day that he died, even going so far as to allow his parish .