Justice Systems In The Puritan Societies
Justice systems have changed greatly over the years. In the Puritan justice system, much has been improved. In 1692, in the town of Salem, many people lose their lives or are punished unfairly due to their justice system. Justice to Puritans really is not justice at all; it is a quick fix to a complicated problem. In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the Puritan justice system is poorly illustrated due to the lack of evidence in trials, church influence in government, and in the setting.
With the witch trials in Salem, the lack of evidence has a large effect on many people’s lives. Someone can accuse another of a crime, and in almost no time at all, there will be a trial in the town court. Not only those who are personally affiliated with the crime are affected, everyone in the town is touched also. When Putnam states, ” She cannot bear to hear the Lord’s name that’s a sure sign of witchcraft,” he jumps to conclusions about the girls being witches. Simply because he made this accusation, talk was stirred up in town. The townsfolk become highly agitated over this situation, and the scenario is blown completely out of proportion. Soon after this happens, trials dates are set.
The church has a great deal of influence over the government in The Crucible. Sins and crimes are very closely connected; whereas, if one is committed, the other is likewise. Since the authority of the church, such as reverends are looked at as “high and mighty” these “sinless” people are also often the heads of, or have a lot of say in the town’s government. At one point in the book, Reverend Hale declares: “in my ignorance I find it hard to draw a clear opinion of them that come accused before the courtGod forbid such a one be changed, she Rebecca Nurse is mentioned somewhat” He is saying Rebecca Nurse’s name was mentioned in court today, as if she involved with witch craft also. Reverend Hale is looked at as holy among the townsfolk, along with he plays a role in the town’s court system. The town’s religion and law are much alike, and very intertwined, which is believed to be best for this group of people.
The setting in The Crucible helps to enhance the theme. The plot of this story makes the time, place, and general environment seem almost too perfect to be true. The witch trials take place in the spring of 1692, in Salem, Massachusetts. At this time, the ways of the Puritan justice system are completely acceptable, whereas public hangings and executions do not seem out of the ordinary. When Arthur Miller writes:
” they Puritans carried about an air of innate resistance, even of persecution So now they and their church found it necessary to deny any other sect its freedom, lest their New Jerusalem be defiled and corrupted by wrong ways and deceitful ideas They believed, in short, that they held in their steady hands the candle that would light the world”
He is remarking about the way of life and beliefs of Puritans. He says they will not let their new world be polluted with sin and crime, and the world will imitate their actions, depending on the way their society is ruled. The people of this time and era think their justice system is acceptable, and throughout the many scenes in the book, nothing is thought of as prodigious.
Lack of evidence in trials, church influence in government, and the setting all compute up to an ineffective justice system in the Puritan society. It is unjust and unfair for the elders of this fellowship to change as many of the lives as they do with the justice system they have.