The quote, “In literature as in life, human beings may find themselves in conflict when they live in a society that outwardly seems civilized and yet practices prejudice and injustice within,” means that even when a civilization is viewed as good or peaceful, many people in the society are treated unfairly. This theme is often expressed in works of literature. In The Crucible by Arthur Miller and Shirley Jackson’s, “The Lottery” both show how the quote is true. The Crucible supports the lens through setting, characterization, and conflict. The play has to do with the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. During this time in American history, there were nineteen people who hanged for the crime of witchcraft. The play is set in a very protestant community. In the village, people are expected to behave properly and civilly. They have strict rules about many things, such as dancing and woman wearing their hair up when outside. Arthur Miller says most of his characters “… play a similar – and in some cases exactly the same-role in history”. Abigail Williams, Reverend Parris’ orphaned niece, has an affair with John Proctor, a respected farmer, prior to the beginning of the play. After drinking blood to kill Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth, Abigail claims that Tituba, the servant, had forced her to do it. Although Abigail is described as a character who has “an endless capacity for dissembling,” it is her accusations that begin the witch trials. Abigail herself uses the trials to cover her own guilt and shame of the affair. The internal conflict of John Proctor is also important. He realizes that he will have to admit his affair with Abigail if he wants to save his wife. In their society, an affair was a large crime. Even those on trial were not treated fairly. If they did not confess, they were to die. However if they did confess, they would be known as witches. This is shown when John Proctor says “Leave me my name”, because he feels that he cannot have the town seeing him as a bad person, so he cannot sign his name to lies. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson also supports the quote using setting, irony and tone. The story is set in a small town where people know each other well. In the annual lottery, a person is randomly chosen to be killed. The setting is described as being a “full summer day” where “flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. ” People are around the town square talking casually about taxes and such. This includes Mrs. Hutchinson, a mother and wife, who enters talking to Mrs. Delacroix about how she had forgotten what day it was. When she realized the lottery was that day, she “came a-running” , showing how she was glad to be at the event. She shows this again when she tells her husband, Bill to, “get up there”. The tone is cheerful and excited. When Mrs. Hutchinson is the one to die, she ironically starts saying how it was unfair. Both works take place in seemingly good villages. The protestants are known for trying to be good while small villages are known for being close and staying together. Both towns are full of tradition, yet both towns went through injustices. Both The Crucible and “The Lottery” show how even nice towns have injustices.
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