Conflict has the ability to bring out the best and the worst in people. While some would like to believe that it is in times of conflict that they are able to behave altruistically, surely it is still acting out of self-interest if one is able to reap some benefit, even if it is only one of feeling good. Acting out of self-interest isnt really always that bad. Saving your house instead of the neighbours, or saving your own child instead of someone elses. There are those who act extremely selfishly in times of conflict for example the looters in the recent Queensland floods. Really in times of conflict people do act out of self-interest but that isnt always a negative thing.
It is in times of conflict that there are in fact some people who will exploit the situation to ensure they get what they want. In THE CRUCIBLE, we are shown this through the character, Abigail. She takes advantage of the hysteria surrounding the witch hunts and tries to get John Proctor, as her husband. She also wants power and ultimately is aiming for revenge. Just like a real life situation, if you were suddenly given all this power, it would be overwhelming but at the same time the decisions made may not be rational. Basically this is the same with Abigail. She suddenly has all this power but doesnt know what to do. She wants to take revenge and prove that she is in control to John Proctor, and she really seemed to enjoy the power she was suddenly able to yield. Sometimes unfortunately when some people suddenly find themselves with power and control in a situation of conflict they dont always act with their best interest.
It can be in times of individuals seeking to have power and control over others where conflict may appear and it can be in times of conflict where individuals try to grasp power and control and use it to their own advantage. Some people like to exploit that power and use it to control others acting out of self-interest and this can lead to conflict. Danforth and Hathorne acted out of self-interest with their power which they also used to control others. The power that both Hathorne and Danforth had led to selfish acts and them taking control over others. They did this in that they could have stopped the witch hunt proceeding however, if doing so they would have had to confess that they are wrong. Thus this is why the proceedings of the witch hunts went on as Hathorne and Danforth clearly didnt want to admit that they were in fact wrong.
Surely many would agree that Elizabeth Proctor acted selflessly. But is this really true? She could have saved her husbands life if she had wanted to. Would people agree that she acted out of self-interest in the conflict of the witch hunts? Or was she a selfless honourable woman concerned about her own immortal soul? Self-interest doesnt have to be a negative concept, especially not when people are placed under the pressure of severe conflict. Looking after ones self and ones own can be perceived differently depending on the individual, the situation and the observer. Surely in times of conflict concepts such as self-interest shift.
In times of war, the concept of self-interest might change, staying alive, looking after ones self or even ones team, at the cost of the lives of others. Was it acting out of self-interest to kill enemy soldiers? Was it selfish? Many involved in the Salem witch hunts would have perceived this as a time of war.
Its in times of conflict when some form of peer group pressure can occur, and its times like these where one may act either selfishly or selflessly. Mary Warren is a great example of this as not only is she Proctors servants but she in fact ends up actually accusing Proctor due to her giving deposition against Abagail. She initially tries to the right thing but Abagail continues to lie. Mary Warren tries to prove that Abigail is lying but her power overwhelms Mary Warren, who bows to Abigails pressure and fears for her own life if she provokes Abigails displeasure. Both were acting in their own self-interest in this time of conflict.
What would the world come to if people did not strive to help themselves? Would more be accomplished or nothing at all? When is helping oneself self-interest, and when is it rude and selfish? How far does one have to go to not be selfish? In order to be not selfish, must a person spend all their time giving to others? Is in a way giving to others even showing selfishness? If that is true is it possible to end selfishness? Yet, to understand the importance of self-interest it is important to understand my opinion of the answers to these questions. Self-interest is when people strive to help their condition or themselves without implicating harm on others. It causes people to work harder. I am sure without self-interest many people would not be working at all. Doing anything is an act of self-interest. Eating, showering, sleeping, are all acts of self-interest. They are very important and vital to life. This shows that if self-interest were to completely end, not only would it be bad for the economy of the country, but also the entire human race would die. I think it is natural for people to think of themselves first. If you put someone in a situation where they would lose their life to save somebody their friends, I do not feel that they would be willing to do that.
In The Crucible, conflict is explored in different ways. Although there is much conflict within these characters themselves, one that is emphasized during the story is between Abigail and John Proctor, a farmer who has had an affair with Abigail in the past. Abigail still has feelings for Proctor, despite the fact that he has told her their relationship is over, and she brings accusations against Proctors wife, Goody, in hopes of them getting back together with one another. It is clear that both Proctor and Abigail show that their affections for one another. She truly believes that Proctor loves her however love can sometimes go wrong. Leading to feeling of conflict and situation of conflict leads to decisions being irrational and can result in a person feeling hurt and in trying to relieve that hurt an individual may act in their own self-interest.
Conflict is there whether we like it or not, and can even bring out and show who we really are in terms of our identity. Yes, it is in times of conflict where people do act out of self-interest; however it also helps to structure one self to form who one truly turns out to be as a person and an individual. It can be good, it can be bad but the reality is, its here in our world we live in today, so dont let it affect who you are or who you become.