by Arthur Miller
The Crucible Theme of Jealousy
Many of the characters are motivated by jealousy and greed in The Crucible. Abigail is motivated by jealousy of Elizabeth Proctor; she wants Elizabeth to die so she can marry John, Elizabeth’s husband.
Thomas Putnam is motivated by jealousy of other people’s property; he wants George Jacobs to die so he can get his hands on a great piece of land. Little attention is devoted to the subject of envy by any of the characters, even though it is the hidden force driving most of the drama in town.
Questions About Jealousy
- Is it only the obviously “bad” characters in the play, like Abigail and Mr. Putnum, who show jealousy? What about other characters, like John and Elizabeth Proctor?
- How does the theology of Salem prevent its citizens from recognizing envy as a source of the conflict?
Chew on This
Abigail’s actions have no justification other than envy, pure and simple.
Although Abigail is jealous of Elizabeth Proctor, she is not the only source of evil in the play. John Proctor’s deception during his affair with Abigail, when he made a physical “promise” to her, is the source of the play’s conflict.