VCE Outcome 2: The Crucible – Encountering Conflict

“We should be more concerned about the damage conflict does to people than the reasons for the conflict.”

Quick plan: JP on the gallows – determined and steadfast

Symbols: chains = justice sunrise = insight and epiphany Dusk/mist = Abigail and Judge

Concepts: martyrs, resistance, cowards and liars vs traitors to the truth


It was cold, bitterly cold, as they led John Proctor from his cell, and you could hear the shaking of his body in the rattle of the chains that bound him. He did not speak as they led him up the stone steps from the cellar out into the shrouding mists of the still-born dawn and onto the cart bearing the old bodies of his guilty fellows.

Much of the village had come to the common to see him hang. He had been one of their best – so they had believed – but God’s court had proved his faith to be twisted, false and corrupt, so now he had to join the ranks of the Devil and die on the gallows. Only in such a way could their souls be saved, and the town made pure again.

Or so they had come to believe.

On this day, still shrouded in the cold, clouded and confused light of a dawn unseen, the feeling amongst the village-folk was not so certain or secure. On this day the accusations levelled against the guilty did not sit so easily, nor the sentences of death seem so righteous. Goodwife Osbourne had been purged of her sins by the noose – it was written so – as had Mister Jacobs. Yet the figures that were presented upon the platform that day… These were the seeds of evil amongst the community? John Proctor, and Martha Corey, and Goodwife Nurse? Until an hour before the Devil fell God thought him beautiful, but this?

Someone had called the Devil into Salem. Dark, dangerous and evil, in mysterious ways that defied common sense, the Devil hid in places unknown and full of fear and exercised His corrupting influence. Too long, He did hold the innocent by the throat. Against such a terrible summoning the court of Christianity conscripted victims of his temptation and, through their blameless tongues, was able to defy the silence He imposed. The court had empowered the children to speak His name. With extraordinary courage, they had since presented His mortal legions to scrutiny and justice. The town would be purged of witchcraft; Salem would be saved; Satan dispelled. Such had been the moral battle fought by God’s court in Salem.

But this? No court could wait for saints to provide evidence, but this? The mists stirred, and the villagers strained their necks to see spectral shapes bearing the chains of God’s court unloaded from the cart and led to the platform of the gallows. It was late for the court to overturn its sentence, though the key witness in Abigail Williams had fled the township, the key investigator in Reverend Hale had abandoned the cause, and the damning Judge Danforth had mulishly packed his cases into his carriage and gone. A ray of truth seemed to reveal itself in the look of resolve, determination and belief upon the face of John proctor. One man, Giles Corey, had already died, not for witchcraft, but for his opposition to the hunt. Perhaps it was not the Devil that was defied if one did question the motives and judgements of the court; perhaps justice demanded such questions? Was there a road between good and evil; was that the place of men and women of conscience? Indeed, were the accusers always holy?

The sun somewhere was rising as the villagers wondered upon the heart of the matter, even as the hangman placed the rope around the necks of the three accused and tried. The three did not renounce themselves.

At that time, the villagers might have regretted the hysteria, doubted their motives, questioned their complicity, and dreaded the desires that had driven their own and many more to the gallows. At that time, John Proctor might have been forgiven by God, and the survivors of Salem guilty of becoming their own devils. Could the battle for hearts and minds find a true path?

“…Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive them that trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom…”

Then the bodies dropped, and it was too late for innocent regrets.

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