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Legacy-Revision3 - Honors English Dr Wyman October 12th...

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Honors English Dr. Wyman October 12th, 2006 Legacy “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life!” (Miller 133) is exclaimed in the court room at the Salem witch trials in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible . While being an emotional outburst that makes for good reading in his story, Millers is also trying to convey his message of a legacy. In the end, no society lasts forever. All that remains is dust, names, and records. The only remnants of the Puritans are their name, and the records of what they did. Regardless of whether or not they believed God was on their side, they still are held accountable for their actions by the judgment of history. Often, people justify their actions because they believe they are on the side of “good.” Whether they believe they are right or wrong is irrelevant, because their descendants and ancestors will look into the past and decide for themselves. The ultimate testament to how a person or society lived is how it is viewed contemporarily. The Puritans of old New England are a perfect example of this type of historical judgment. Following the Protestant Reformation of Europe, Puritans fled their home countries due to religious persecution. Seeking out a new land in America, they established fledgling communities. Not just any society, the Puritans were trying to create a Utopian community by carrying out God's will. William Bradford described this establishment as “a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.” (160). In the process however, the Puritan leaders use religious justification to carry out heinous activities. In the Puritans' minds, they were fighting evil. But looking back in time, the actions and persecution the Puritan's engaged in is not an example of a
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holy, pious community, but rather a hypocrisy filled with power hungry men using religious justification to carry out their wicked activities. The Puritans also saw God in all things. Any good event meant God was pleased with their actions, any bad calamity meant either God was punishing them or Satan was afoot. Even animal encounters were in need of divine interpretation: At Watertown there was (in the view of Divers witnesses) a great combat between a mouse and a snake, and after a long fight the mouse prevailed and killed the snake. The pastor of Boston, Mr. Wilson, a very sincere, holy man, hearing of it gave this interpretation: that the snake was the devil, the mouse was a poor contemptible people which God had brought hither, which should overcome Satan here and dispossess him of his kingdom. (Winthrop 217) Because of this intense religious belief that either God or Satan had a hand in everything, when accusations of witchcraft began to surface, the Puritans didn’t question the validity of the claims. This was despite the facts that no hard evidence supported the claims, and that the prosecution
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Legacy-Revision3 - Honors English Dr Wyman October 12th...

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