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Sex in the Theater

However, Miller demonstrates that under the avowed adherence to Quakerism by the village's leaders lie their own personal ambitions and desires. While keeping the play resolutely political, in the sense that the village is governed by a theocracy and thus the religious is the political, Miller introduces strong sexual undertones. Abigail is wreaking vengeance as a woman scorned.

In "Vinegar Tom," the significance of the sexual in the political relationships of the town's inhabitants is more clearly expressed. Specifically, women's sexual desire is simultaneously portrayed as natural and corrupting. The corrupting influence is portrayed through Jack, a married man, who lusts after Alice and believes she has adversely bewitched his potency. Jack blames Alice for his lack of sexual potency and soon he and his wife Margery have classified Alice's mother as a witch. "Vinegar Tom" demonstrates, as does "The Crucible," that political persecution is very usually underlaid with issues of personal vengeance. Jack and Margery cannot account for the failure of their farm so they credit their failures to Margery, an easy target.

Interestingly enough, the women in "Vinegar Tom" all accept their sexuality as a curse. Jack's belief that Alice has stolen his potency demonstrates the belief also found in "The Crucible" that woman ultimately hold the power and, consequently, the blame for the corrupting, evil nature of sex. Sprenger and Kramer, the authors of Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches), a very popular book in the seventeenth century, explain why women are simultaneously at the heart of all things sexual and evil:

Kramer: "All wickedness is but little to the wickedness of a woman." Ecclesiastes.

Kramer/Sprenger: she is more carnal than a man

Kramer: as may be seen from her many carnal abominations (xxi. 18-19,32-34).

Thus, based on the actions attributed to Eve, women's sexual nature is viewed as a "carna...

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