Band 5/6 Crucible Mega Essay + Blackfish

Purgation is necessary for a healthy safe, personal relationships and community. To what extent is this your understanding of your prescribed and two related texts?

                   Purgation is the act of purifying or cleansing oneself of negative emotions. In doing so, one is able to achieve catharsis and thus, allows individuals and society to renew and sustain themselves. Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible (1953) explores competing perspectives of the social contract between individuals and society. Despite this contention, the society of Salem must purge itself with the idea of witchcraft hysteria, or else the community would still be living in the darkness of the New World.  Likewise, individuals like John Proctor must purge his guilt and gain his goodness in order to make peace with God. Paul Keating’s political speech, Redfern Speech (Year of the World’s indigenous people) (1992) is another text that examines both political and ethical consequences of colonial history. This speech advocates that by purging denials, this act will ultimately overshadow Australian history and society. Finally, the documentary Blackfish by Gabriella Cowpathwaithe, set in Seaworld, urges individuals and societies to consider the fact that by purging the practice of keeping Orcas in captivity, this would ultimately demolish the myth of ‘healthy whales.’ Thus, each composers in the three texts listed, focuses upon the necessity of purgation upon competing perspectives. In doing so, responders are able to acknowledge the ways in which composers have chosen to represent their competing perspectives as well as their manipulation with textual forms. As such, to a certain degree, responders are able to acknowledge the necessity of purgation including creating sustainable communities, healthy personal relationships, and finally a healthy self.

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and Paul Keating’s Redfern Speech are two texts that highlight the importance of purging negative political and social elements in order to create a sustainable community. Miller provides responders with two opposing perspectives: The dissenting individual who seeks to undermine the church-run theocracy, juxtaposing against the necessity of the church to use any methods to keep the ‘devil’ away. Miller’s characterisation of Proctor, as an individual, is depicted as “sinner not only against the moral fashion of the time, but against his own vision of decent conduct.” This exhibits to readers that although John Proctor is well regarded in society, he is divorced from the institutional power of the Church and the community due to his past failing act of adultery. This is further proven through Miller’s stage direction, “(As though as able to restrain this) I see no light in God in that man,” in order to create a sense of a sense that individuals such as Proctor, are dangerous to a theocracy. However, Miller allows responders to also perceive the acknowledgement that such obedience and conformity is considered a necessity, particularly in the context of Salem. A purging of such individual is essential in order for Salem to survive. This is because around the ‘light’ and ‘civilisation’ of Salem, the “edge of wilderness was close by… darking and threatening” to suggest that Salem is a place of evil and danger as well as physical isolation. Moreover, the use of personification of the New World outside of Salem, explains the contextual representation that the process of purgation is necessary if both individuals and societies wish Salem to remain pure.  Similarly, Redfern Speech presented by Paul Keating is another text that addresses the necessity of purgation of negative history of Australia, which would ultimately result in a more sustainable community. Keating stated that in Indigenous history, Australians have completely disregarded and paid no attention to Indigenous Australians and thus, reconciliation is needed. However, reconciliation can only occur through acceptance and catharsis and is particularly emphasised through the use of anaphora and brutal nouns of, “We took… we brought… we committed… the dispossessing… the murders… the discrimination and exclusion.” Keating accentuates the violence of colonial era administrations with the aim to create pathos and guilt towards responders. Yet, Keating shifts his tone by addressing his alternative perspective in which, Keating himself as well as the Labour government, would seek to purge the negative history. Keating’s manipulation in textual forms of anecdote and simile shows that it is through the creation and transformation of policies that Australian governments are responsible for, to achieve sustainable community as a whole. “The Mabo Judgement… should be seen… as a practical building block of change.” By continually improving the policies, both Australians and Indigenous Australians are able to reconcile with one another and as a result, purging of White Australia history may occur. Henceforth, both composers, Arthur Miller and Paul Keating, are able to represent their perspective by emphasising the necessity of purgation of negative elements in order to create a healthy and sustainable community.

Embracing healthy personal relationships can only occur when both individuals and communities acknowledge the importance of purging the wrongful, unethical past as shown in Paul Keating’s Redfern Speech and Cowpathwaithe’s Blackfish. Keating initially validates the thought of many Australians who does not support the cause of Indigenous Rights movement. He outlines this particular perspective through his diplomatic tone and expression, “It might be tempting to think that reality of Aboriginal Australians are contained here (in Redfern)… the rest of us are insulated from it.” The use of analogy allows Keating to create a sense of entitlement, particularly targeting towards the apathetic Australians who believes that Australian Aboriginal history is meaningless and worthless. Furthermore, Keating emphasises this particular discriminatory viewpoint with persuasive techniques including rhetorical question in “How would I feel if this was done to me?” to make responders sympathise with Indigenous Australians as Australians must place themselves in their shoes to understand the unfairness that they have suffered. Further employment of pathos in “I think we need to open our hearts a bit,” manipulates responders to perceive the superiority of Keating’s political perspective of Indigenous plight.  Similarly, another text that explores the common idea of embracing healthy personal relationships is Crowpathwaithe’s Blackfish. Seaworld presents its Orcas as gentle and loveable pets rather than multi-ton apex predators. This is particularly shown through Cowpathwaithe’s deliberate use of infantilisation of Orcas through the popular childish colour of pink and blue merchandise as well as advertisements, both focusing on the ‘magical’ experience that consumers will receive.  Also, the deliberate colour choice of pink and blue are specifically targeted towards young girls and boys to encourage their parents to take them on this journey. On the other hand, Cowpathwaithe also creates a competing perspective by emphasising the necessity of purgation of all such practices. As such, she accuses Seaworld for the unethical practices by drawing upon scientific anecdotes as well as close-up interviews with specialists, trainers, and anecdotal footage of whales in the world. Also, most poignantly, Cowpathwaithe presents to the audience a visual depiction of Orcas with sickly floppy fin in Seaworld, juxtaposed against that of an epic, inspiration pan of a dozen erect dorsal fins traversing across a red horizon in order to highlight the absolute necessity of purging of false facts that is presented by Seaworld. Henceforth, Paul Keating’s Redfern Speech and Gabriella Cowpathwaithe’s documentary, Blackfish are two texts that presents the necessity of purgation of false lies in order for individuals and communities to embrace healthy personal relationships.

Finally, Gabriella Cowpathwaithe’s documentary, Blackfish and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible both justifies the claim that the necessity of purgation in order to achieve a healthier self.   In the Blackfish, Seaward taught trainers to believe in false factoids about Orcas including, “Orcas in Seaworld can live upward of 15 years” as well as “Floppy fins occur naturally in the wild” and thus, trainers genuinely believes that their relationship with their respective Orcas is of friendship and partnership. This is juxtaposed against the scene where the documentary reveals that Orcas in true fact, lives over 100 years. As a result, this creates an absolute devastation for not only the trainers themselves, but also the audience, to feel a strong desire to purge out guilt and shame. A moment of catharsis has captured in the epilogue to show the fundamental need for purgation of negative emotions, particularly for the trainers who have lived and partnered with whales for most of their lives. This is evidently shown in the scene when the trainers see free whales in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. On top of that, powerful close-up shot of the trainer’s mixed emotions, consisting of both happiness and sadness, along with non-diegetic music captures the necessity of purgation as it is through these emotions that allows individuals to achieve a healthier, restored self. Similarly, The Crucible also presents the idea of how healthier self can only be achieved by forgiving and purging one self. John Proctor has experienced a dilemma as he sees himself as an unworthy and broken man, and not as a martyr. Miller employs stage directions in “his breath heaving, Proctor tears up the confession, weeping but erect” to notify readers that Proctor perceives himself as a fraud individual who can never be forgiven due to the sins he had previously done. Thus, individuals like Proctor, will continually seek to resolve the conflict by persistently seeking for truth. However, John Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth, thinks the opposite – she recognises that “[John] has his goodness now, God forbid I take it from him!” The use of exclamation mark in this speech shows that Elizabeth has acknowledges and forgives John for all his sins he had made as well as realising that John has finally made the right moral decision. However, on the other hand, Miller’s presents his depiction of Communist witch-hunts to responders through his metaphor, “The necessity of the Devil… as a weapon, a weapon designed and used… to whip men into a surrender to a particular church” to show his particular militant diction of ‘weapons,’ ‘whips,’ and ‘surrender.’ Also, Miller’s pathos is highly persuasive in this quote as he continually manipulates responders into believing that the power of church is abusive and malignant as the church uses violence and brutality to execute their own political will. Henceforth, individuals like the trainers in Blackfish and John Proctor in The Crucible both acknowledge that it is only through purgation of negative emotions that will ultimately achieve a healthier self.

As a whole, responders are able to evaluate the degree to which healthy safe, personal relationships and community can only be achieved through the purgation of negative events, situations and ideas. Each of the prescribed and related texts, The Crucible, Redfern and Blackfish explores the necessity of purgation including creating sustainable communities, healthy personal relationships, and finally a healthy self.


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