Both present and past societies follow trends of grouping one another into factions in order to raise themselves up on a pedestal. Stereotypes divide the world, whether they be good or bad. Throughout history, the people in power have been men in wealth. Although the roles of these males having power has decreased, gender roles are still prevalent in today’s society and these roles have played a part in society for hundreds of years including in Puritan societies. In The Crucible, Arthur Miller exemplifies why gender roles have a negative impact on society as these roles significantly impact the individual lives in the community of Salem, revealing the difficulty to revolt against powerful figures in society.
Women in Puritan society such as Elizabeth Proctor and Mary Warren face challenges in the quest for equality, and these roles lead to stereotypes of submissive women that hold them back from reaching their full potential. Mary Warren is “struggling to escape” male authority and abuse as she “cannot do” all of the requests of men as some of these men are enemies (624). Mary Warren allows John to be abusive because these actions are normal and hold no consequences. Had Mary Warren abused John, she would have major punishments. When Mary Warren does not speak up about the abuse, an endless cycle begins with men are the abusers and the women are the abused.
Elizabeth Proctor “took great care” of her family and John Proctor because Puritan society requires that women should take care of their husbands and children (602). The gender roles for males and females play a pivotal role because women cannot obtain positions of power as they are focused on raising the family. This hurts society as a whole because males hold all of the positions of power despite the fact that they are only half of the population. Salem focuses on how in general, how women tend to be more emotional than men. Elizabeth is “weeping” and “she covers her face” when John is admitting to witchcraft, which will likely lead to his death (673) . The stereotype that women are fragile and emotional falls into false and forced gender roles. This stereotype hurts all members of the community because women have a weak image which leads to men not showing their emotions in response. Females in Salem allow stereotypes that hold women back from being treated as equal in the Puritan society.
A patriarchal Puritan society allows men to hold power and authority, leading to males such as John Proctor and Danforth to misuse that power. John orders people “out of my house!” when the court falsely accuses Elizabeth of witchcraft (621). John Proctor knows he has the power to overrule a decision from a judge because his society has taught him that a male with money has more power than the law. When John knows he is more powerful than the laws, he is unafraid to defy them. While Abigail accuses him that he still loves her, John feels “[they] did not” ever touch one another, whether this be true or false (578).
It is difficult for John Proctor to answer honestly because the male gender role is associated with being strong for their family and being loyal. If John were to admit to adultery, he would be looked down upon as weak because society needs him to be a perfect man. John cannot admit to his mistakes because patriarchal societies tell men that they can do no wrong and make no mistakes. Danforth believes that the town should “hang [the ‘witches’] over the town” and nail their names to the church doors (678). Danforth does this because he needs to have a non tarnished image as a leader. Danforth cannot admit to his mistakes about the previous hangings because of the standards of a patriarchal society, similar to John Proctor. John Proctor and Danforth use the Puritan male dominated society to abuse and misuse their powers in order to demonstrate how they value their respect and authority in the community more than anything else.
Abusive men and mistreated women in a patriarchal society such as Salem leads to gender roles that negatively influence an entire community. Gender roles and stereotypes are factors that influence a society by creating divided groups of people, instead of one united community. When a group is divided, a power struggle ensues for one who can gain the most amount of power. When a community is united and does not divide themselves up over race or political party, a sense of unity and respect for one another is achieved that many countries, religious groups, and groups of people have never achieved.