Friday, December 12, 2014

The Unbalanced Balance

I would have to disagree with Arthur Miller’s statement and strongly believe that while freedom and order coexist in our modern day society and has for years, order can’t help but to dominate its weaker counterpart, freedom, however this is not necessarily a negative thing. This idea that is proposed at the introduction to The Crucible, that a balance has yet to be found between order and freedom, is not only too broad of a statement to analyze under 500 words, but also the idea of “freedom” can be somewhat subjective. I think it first must be understood which type of freedom Arthur Miller is referring to. There are two types of freedom, subjective and true. True freedom is anarchy, chaos, the ability to literally do anything and everything one wants. Subjective freedom is the freedom we think we have in society. I assume that Miller is referring to the latter.

I don’t think we as a people know what freedom is. We have this idea but I think it is falsely construed. The freedom that our society or even country allows, is a very controlled type of freedom. I would have to disagree with Arthur Miller regarding our society's inability to find a balance between order and freedom, because I think we have. By balance I don’t mean necessarily, an equal amount of each. I personally believe that in our society, order will always out weigh freedom, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. By there being slightly more order than freedom, that itself is what creates a balance.

Our culture and society has helped us develop over time, what can justified as reasonable freedom that we should have a right to. I mean, if you want get really into it you could even go as far as to say that freedom doesn’t even exist because freedom that is ultimately controlled by the government.
This play a great example of order versus freedom and its effects on the society in which this problem dominates. The tale obviously takes place during the Salem witch trials of the 1690s. At this time the order is is that of the Theocratic state. A theocracy is a form of government in which a state is understood as a governed by immediate divine guidance especially a state ruled by a clergy, or by officials. In this particular society, and most with a theocratic form of government, these “officials” are permitted to convict, jail and hang those that are to be believed as “cursed by the devil”. From the perspective of the theocratic government, "God himself is recognized as the head" of the state.1 The freedom in this book is exemplified by all of the villagers, lead into the towns’ spotlight by accusation from Abigail and her group of girls, putting the main focus on John Proctor and his wife Elizabeth. Proctor is eventually convicted and sentenced to hang, and the most compelling part of the play in my opinion, comes as he wrestles with the choice to confess to the crimes he has not committed. He has maintained his innocence and those of the other townspeople, but the situation has been manipulated against him, and the deputy governor is convinced he is a disciple of Satan. As long as he denies it, he is doomed. But if he confesses it, confesses to being a witch and publicly turns against Satan and back towards God, his life will be spared. And Deputy Governor Danforth very much wants him to do this, as he is one of the leaders of the community, and such an action by him will convince many others to make similar false confessions. And that will help restore order. As the dawn of his hanging day approaches, Proctor ultimately decides that his life is more valuable to him that his principles. Proctor chooses order over freedom and keeps his life. The others choose freedom over order and they lose theirs. It’s a tight little package Miller has tied up for us, and although we’re no longer hanging witches, this same struggle between freedom and order is with us to this day.

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