Patriarchal Princesses and Wicked Witches : A Feminist Reading of the Depiction of Women in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Karlstads universitet/Institutionen för språk, litteratur och interkultur

Sammanfattning: Based on the Salem witch trials of 1692-1693, Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible treats a historical event that could be considered overflowing with patriarchal oppression. Despite the author’s clear disapproval of the historical cruelty, the play continuously reveals patriarchal structures and shows misogynist tendencies in its depiction of women. This essay suggests that the two main female characters Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor function as representations of binary oppositions based on the patriarchal assumption of two categories of women: the ‘bad girl’ and the ‘good girl,’ which both reinforce the idea of women as unnuanced objects rather than multifaceted subjects. By arguing that Abigail and Elizabeth represent the binary pairs ‘selfish/sacrificing’ and ‘promiscuous/frigid,’ the essay finds that the two women are depicted as ‘either/or’ and that the unnuanced portrayals result in an unsympathetic reading of them. Finally, the essay concludes that regardless if the woman is a ‘good girl’ or a ‘bad girl,’ she is socially punished or given unflattering characteristics in order not to compete with the male protagonist in terms of reader sympathy.

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