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The Crucible and The Birthmark – Human Failures

John Steinbeck once said that It was the responsibility of the writer to expose our many grievous faults and failures and to hold up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams, for the purpose of improvement. In other words when an author writes a story it is there mission to write it in such a way that it demonstrates mans pitfalls so that upon reflection of the work the reader will be able to better himself through the reading of the story.

Arthur Millers The Crucible and Nathaniel Hawthornes The Birthmark both prove this quote by using irony and characterization. Miller and Hawthorne delineate to the reader mans great faults so that through reflection of each piece the reader could better himself. In The Crucible Miller uses characterization to fulfill his responsibility as an author of pointing out man’s grievous faults and failures. Miller characterizes Abigail as the femme fatal and an evil person. The reader is made aware that Abigail has seduced Proctor into betraying his wife.

Abigail loves Proctor and although he makes it clear that he neither wants nor loves her she is still willing to lie and even be the enabler for killing to get what she wants. Eventually she proves that she is willing to see Proctors wife, Elizabeth, hanged to ensure her own personal greed. It is through Miller’s characterization of Abby that the reader is able to see how humans as a race go about getting what they want, however wrong it may be. Abigail being a selfish and mean person clearly portrays man’s biggest and most natural flaw, that being greed.

In Hawthornes work, The Birthmark, the concept of mans grievous faults and failures are depicted through Hawthornes use of irony. The concept of mans greatest flaw or failure, being greed, is revealed to the reader through the ironic circumstances that embody what Aylmer does to his wife, Georgiana. Georgiana is depicted as a beautiful woman, with one slight flaw on her cheek, a birthmark. Aylmer, being naturally greedy by human nature, dedicates himself towards the removal of this tiny mark that is only seen when Gerogiana becomes flushed.

Ironically, through his attempts to create an antidote to remove the birthmark he kills his gorgeous wife out of his greed for perfection. In both works the first by Miller and that latter by Hawthorne, the idea of it being the writers responsibility to show the readers their dark and dangerous dreams so that the reader may improve upon himself is clearly supported through the authors use of irony and characterization. In The Crucible Abigail had what she wanted, John Proctor, for a little while and then wanted him more.

Similarly in The Birthmark, Aylmer had a gorgeous wife to call his own, but he wanted her to be even better. It is through both Abigails and Aylmers greed that they loose what they already had because they wanted more, making any reader weary henceforth for being to greedy with what they already have. Thus proving Steinbecks notion that it is the responsibility of the author to show the reader what mistakes others have made as to not make the same mistakes themself.

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