Arthur Miller uses a wide range of conflict situations in his 1956 masterpiece, The Crucible. I've broken them down into three sections, personal conflict, inter-personal conflict and impersonal conflict. Personal conflict being strictly internal, inter-personal conflict being between two individuals and impersonal conflict being between either an individual versus a group or two groups against each other.

Personal Conflict
The main underlying theme of the play is the personal conflict of John Proctor, side-kicked possibly by Hale's. These two characters are at opposite ends of the scale in the early stages of The Crucible. Proctor's internal guilt is ripping him apart from the inside, whereas Hale on the other hand, is `weighed down with authority' and right in his element upon his arrival in Salem.

It's worthy to note the significance of the title of the play here, a crucible can be defined two ways. Firstly it can be taken as `a heating substance' or it can be referred to `a trial that ultimately reveals a person's true character'. It's significant because both Proctor and Hale reveal their true character at the end of the play - we see `there is some good in John Proctor yet' and Hale dejected and out of touch with his faith - `Why, it is simple. I come to do the Devils work'.

Personal conflict within a drama script is important as it brings the audience in that extra step. It allows them to get more in touch with a character and his/her beliefs and values. This is especially true for `role model' or `hero' characters (your John Proctor's) as the audience wants to like and understand them. In the Crucible the audience is sympathetic to Proctor, as it's obvious he's trying to make things right and search for forgiveness. Proctor is driven to give up `his good name' in his attempt to make things right. If he had anything left before this, he certainly has nothing after. Miller has drawn a fine line with Proctors lechery but has successfully manipulated the audience using Proctor's good qualities so they can accept him for what he truly is: A good man.

Hale and his guilt are a different kettle of fish. He is responsible for the hanging of twelve so far and the imprisonment of over 300, and he knows it. Hale is a broken man by the end of the play, he can no longer be called a Reverend as he has gone against God by encouraging those imprisoned to lie. In Act IV we see him pleading with Danforth (`Excellency, I must have more time'), he's trying to destroy the monster he's created. If he can get them to lie then they'll only be imprisoned for a period of time rather than hanged if they didn't confess. As good as this may seem of Hale it still isn't enough to revive the audience's opinion of him at the end of the play - it was too little, too late.

Inter-Personal Conflict
Miller also uses effetively inter-personal conflict throughout the play. You'll see there is a number of instances of such conflict that is worthy of a mention. A prime example of this type of conflict is Proctor versus Parris or even Proctor versus Abigail (Proctor and Hale could also possibly be applied here but because of the context of the essay I've not included it).

The conflict between Proctor and Parris are important because it helps us realise some of Proctor's good qualities, e.g., his honesty (`I see no light of God in that man. I'll not conceal it') and strong will (`I like it not that Mr. Parris should lay his hand upon my baby'). He is ultimately a good man, despite his sins and misgivings.

Proctor's conflict with Abigail is an effective way to hammer in his guilt of his lechery and also serves as a facet of getting to know Abigail's characteristics and many faults. After Proctor denies her, she gets bent on revenge and decides that she must get rid of Elizabeth Proctor so he will be left all alone to her. Seeing the way Proctor puts her out on her ear is a strong indication that even if Abigail does manage to get rid of Elizabeth, he'll still not have anything to do with her. A true sign of his repentance.

Impersonal Conflict
The last type of conflict is what I regard as the impersonal kind. The special thing about impersonal conflict is that it's reflective and representational of many other similar situations throughout Salem at this time. The Putnam’s land-grabbing game is one that was adopted by many families, the Sarah Good's were being charged as witches well before anyone else was everywhere else and of course the Proctor's clash with the Putnums was representative of almost every family that had a neighbour.

Another important portrayal of impersonal conflict between parties is that of Proctor vs. the Church, the Court and Society. They're all hedged against him. It was unheard of to stand up against such authority and fight for one's friends. John Proctor did this, and in doing so ruined his good name and sacrificed his own life.

Miller used conflict in The Crucible in three key ways; personal, inter-personal and impersonal conflicts. Overall, was it effective? Go and read the play and find out for yourself.

This is revision for exams so if there is anything you think I should add/remove/edit, please feel free to /msg me.

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