The definition of judgement according to Encarta Encyclopedia, is the formation of an opinion. It is a simple definition, clear and direct. Although, there is more to the word judgement than meets the eye. What about the last word in the definition? What is an opinion? An opinion is described as a belief or conclusion that is held without any substantial proof. That word might not seem to have too much significance at this very moment, but it did back in 1692, in Salem, Massachusetts, during the witch scare.
Making a judgement on somebody may seem harmless, but it can be very destructive. The citizens of Salem made judgements on their neighbors, forming opinions that they might be witches. Those solitary judgements led to many peoples” deaths, and guess what. Their judgements of witchcraft were wrong. Arthur Miller gives people some insight into the Salem witch trials in his play, The Crucible, which shows how peoples” poor judgement led to hysteria and tragedy in the community of Salem. It also shows how the people changed because of this witch scare that ran furiously through the town.Order now
Elizabeth Proctor is one of these people, who undergoes a major change because of the events that occurred in Salem. In the beginning, she forms an unfair opinion of her husband, John. She finds it very hard to forgive him for certain actions. At the very end she ultimately has a change of heart, realizing the potential destruction and harm of her judgments. She realizes that she is not the one to be faultfinding of John and says she will not judge him regardless of what he does or decides to do. Now that is all well and good, but she didn”t just all of a sudden change her mind on the issue.
She didn”t just all at once receive some divine wisdom that she was wrong. There are many factors that changed her mind and that led to her new perception of judgement. Explaining this switch of mind frame that Elizabeth underwent needs some description of what actually happened to make her judge John the way she did in the first place. Everything began when a girl named Abigail was working for the Proctors in their home. Elizabeth at sometime found out that John had sexual relations with Abigail, so she took the situation into her own hands and fired Abigail.
From that point on, Elizabeth was a bit wary of John’s words, wondering and questioning in her mind whether they were true or not. She found it hard to forgive him for his actions. Meanwhile, while John and Elizabeth were having problems in their home, outside in the town people were being accused of witchcraft right and left. The main accuser was Abigail. Her and her friends had actually been some of the first accused of witchcraft because they were seen dancing naked in the woods, an unheard of act in their Puritan society.
So to get themselves out of a potential death sentence, they started accusing innocent people. They did it with such resolution that many of the people believed them and came to fear some of the accused. Now Abigail didn”t tell anyone that everything they were saying was untrue. She only told John Proctor. Another very interesting bit of information in this conversation was not well taken by Abigail, either. John said that he would never again even think about going back to Abigail. That comment spurred on a very evil plot by Abigail to completely remove Elizabeth from the picture so she could have John to herself.
Abigail is a conniving and evil girl, whose main concern is her own well being. She felt that if she could get rid of Elizabeth then John would be hers. So she accused Elizabeth of being a witch, knowing that Elizabeth would be hanged if convicted. She already had much of the community convinced her stories were sincere, so she knew this little lie would not be any less believable than the other ones she had already told. Of course, Elizabeth was not exactly delighted about being falsely accused.
Her life was on the line because people believed the words of Abigail. The town was judging her, and she did not like it at all, but she had not yet realized that she was had actually been doing the same thing to her husband. John initially did not want to get involved in the witch trials, but he needed to defend his wife. He knew Abigail was lying and he went to the trial to try and prove that to the judges. Now, he knew the only way he could really save Elizabeth was by confessing that he had a romance with Abigail, and that Elizabeth had fired her because of it.
Confessing, he knew would ruin his reputation, but he didn”t care about himself as much as saving his wife. Although both were accused of witchcraft anyway, by the end of that trial Elizabeth had realized that she had been judging John wrongly all this time, for he was an honest man. All this time she hadn”t given him credit for his integrity, didn”t really believe he had much. Yet, her life was almost saved because of it. Later the judges came, saying that if anyone admitted to practicing witchcraft, he would not be hanged. Elizabeth had held her ground, and did not say anything to them.
The judges knew she would not budge with her feelings, but they sent her to John to see if she could convince him to confess so that his life might be spared. John asked Elizabeth whether he should admit to witchery to save his life even though it was a lie. Elizabeth just said that no matter what he decided, she would not judge him anymore. She knew that she should not have judged him to begin with. She realized at the end of the trial that John was much more than she gave him credit for, much more than what she saw through her obstinate and partial eyes.
He had given up the respect of every one of the citizens of Salem to try and save her, even with the thoughts of the distrust and resentment she had showed towards him. Her actions were punishment without a cause, and she knew it. Elizabeth was wrong in her judgement of him, and it hurt not only John, but also both of them. “Her actions were punishment without a cause,” is a phrase that parallels on the whole witch scare and trials that took place. Elizabeth probably felt that what she did to John was very similar to what the people were doing to her.
They were putting her on trial for something they thought might be true about her. The narrow-minded citizens of Salem were judging her wrongly of witchcraft, and because of it she would probably be killed. The witch trials may have been on a bit larger intensity scale than her and John, but the concept was the same. No matter what it is, judgement especially without proof is terribly sinister and can have adverse effects on everyone involved. Once Elizabeth saw the similarities of herself and her neighbors, who were forming such outrageous opinions of her with absolutely no justification, she realized she had to change.
So, she refused to judge him for whatever decision he made. Knowing finally that she should not be the one to intervene with his decision by thinking a certain way about him or telling him what to do, she said simply, “He is good now. God forbid I take it from him! ” She realized at last that one part of his character might have been a bit flawed, but she should not have used that as the base of her opinion for the rest of his character. She realized that God is the only one that sees all, and that she was a fool if she tried to play His role for Him.