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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Differences between “The Crucible” “The Outsider”

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Year 1 PES English


Comparative Essay


Differences between “The Crucible” “The Outsider”


There are several similarities and differences between these two texts. Most of which are centred on the main characters of each respective text. John Proctor and Mersault are isolated and slowly crushed by a society that refuses to accept them as who they are. Both men are forced to take on society, and tackle conformity head on. Both Miller and Camus have developed characters that demonstrate one mans fight against society, whether it be through a theocracy that encompasses highly strict religious values, or a legal system that judges the individual and not the crime.


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Both men are flawed as well. Proctor is forced to answer to the charges of adultery, as Mersault is simply different.


Each man has to tackle their own personnel problems as they take on society. Mersault deals with (to an extent) his friends. As Proctor must ensure the stability of his family.


The differences of the two men are displayed through the way the audience perceives them. The audience feels Sympathy for Proctor, whereas the feeling for Mersault is more that of pity.


This is because Proctors imperfection causes him to appear more human. Mersault on the other hand is seen to be unaware of the things he does, and doesn’t seem to have any real conscience or feelings. This causes us to pity Mersault as we wish that he could see and feel what was going on around him.


Proctor’s respect amongst the community is partly due to his deep religious belief. Mesault doesn’t have any time for religion. This is particularly evident during his talk with a priest in the time leading up to his execution. “ I explained to him that I didn’t believe in God. “Are you really sure of that?” I said I saw no point in troubling my head about the matter; whether I believed or didn’t was, to my mind, a question of so little importance.” Proctor contrasts this as he quickly recites out of 10 commandments when tested by a priest. Proctor also values and respects religion, Mersault certainly does not.


Both characters met their demise through their inability to lie or confess. When trailed, both men spoke the truth and paid the price. When asked about his feeling of his mother’s death, Mersault simply spoke what he felt and found that it didn’t conform to societies expectations. Proctor spoke truthfully throughout his trial and refused to confess to a crime that he had never committed. This is why the audience develops sympathy and respect for Proctor.


Their respective communities also respect the men on different levels. Proctor’s name is “white” in his village. He has the respect of his community. Mersault doesn’t have this respect because of him being a part of the “underbelly” of society. His friends include pimps, prostitutes and men who beat up women. It is this association that contributes to Mersault’s demise.


Mersault is also very judgemental, unlike Proctor who judges the individual on who they are. Although Mersault is really only judgemental through his “observing”. Proctor has the respect he has by not being judgemental.


The towns in which both men live also contribute to how they are perceived. Salem has a different social standard to Algiers, as people are judged by society through different factors. Proctors town is certainty a “puritan” society that attempts to ensure that religious values are preserved. Hence the town being described as a “new Jerusalem”. Algiers seems to be a town that displays racist and socio-economic ideals. This is evident through the courts reaction to Mersault killing an “Arab”. It also seems that the town has an “underbelly”, a hidden society that dwells in the shadows of the town.


Neither character displays any respect for authority. They challenge authority and are also seen to make fun of it as neither respect authority, as they would be expected to. Yet, authority doesn’t respect them either due to their individuality and isolation. They seem to be fighting a never-ending war between those that set the standards of acceptability, and those that challenge conformity and stand up for what they believe in. Both men front up to their trials as if on a mission to walk out of a changed courtroom. They both succeed.


Ultimately, of course, both men meet their demise at the hands of a society that has slowly suppressed them through isolation and the weight of authority. It also seems that both men won their battles as they both refused to change their ways. In the case of Mersault, society disposed of him due to his beliefs and views. Society was unable to change him however.


Proctor died with a “white” name. He refused to sign himself away and died instead of blackening his name.


Both men stood up for what they believed in and stuck with it right to the very





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