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Essay/Term paper: The crucible: the witchcraft hysteria

Essay, term paper, research paper:  The Crucible

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The Crucible: The Witchcraft Hysteria


In 1692, in Salem Massachusetts, the superstition of witches existed in
a society of strong Christian beliefs. Anybody who acted out of the ordinary
was accused of being a witch and then the accuse would actually be forgiven if
the blamed their accusations on another individual. This was the main idea of a
play entitled, The Crucible by Arthur Miller. In this play a group of young
girls act up and are then accused of being witches. These girls then blame
other people in order to get out of trouble and even pretend to be "bewitched"
in front of the court during a trial. This leads into the deaths of some
innocent people who were accused and automatically found guilty. I believe, in
many ways the people of Salem were responsible for the witch hysteria.
The person with the most influence was the character, Abigail. Abigail
had an affair with a man by the name of John Proctor. Proctor broke contact
with Abigail and spent time and interest in his wife, Elizabeth. Abigail gets
jealous because of this and Abigail, a few other girls, and a servant from the
Caribbean named Tituba dance around in a order that they believe it will kill
Proctor's wife. Rev. Parris, Abigail's uncle, sees this and reports it. When
Abigail is questioned about this, she denies everything and doesn't tell the
truth about what really happened. The news of her and the other girl's strange
actions gets around and the hysteria starts. Without Abigail's superstition,
and her fear or telling the truth, I think the events in The Crucible wouldn't
have gotten as serious as they did or even started.
John Proctor was another catalyst to the witch hysteria in Salem. John
Proctor has an affair with Abigail, but he and his wife do make up and get
along well. John Proctor adds to the hysteria when he and his wife are talking
about Abigail and why she is acting so oddly. Although John Proctor knows she
is making up everything and blaming innocent people, he is reluctant to travel
to Salem and testify her as a fraud to the court. If he would have done this
the witch trials could have stopped there. Another way John Proctor could have
contributed to this madness but his moral didn't let him occurs when at the end
of Act IV he says he will confess to the law who he saw with the devil in order
to save himself from dying or from imprisonment. Fortunately, John Proctor
realizes this is wrong and he does not give the confession and he hangs because
of it. Although eventually John Proctor did add to the hysteria a little, he
still helped it stop.
The last person I think was played a big part in the spirit of the witch
hysteria is Governor Danforth. Danforth was a big part of the actual trials and
his court system was very brutal and uncivilized, in fact he said, "If you are
not with the court, you are against it" which basically means in my opinion, if
you are on trial and you don't believe what the court believes then you are
guilty. His words in this sentence where a huge part of the conclusion on what
eventually happened to the girls and all that were involved. The court believed
they were all witches and they really had no chance to prove them wrong.
Danforth contributed to the hysteria another way in the method that he used to
judge who was guilty in terms of evidence. He believed word of mouth more than
actual proven evidence, mostly because he wanted these trials over fast and he
wanted it to turn out the way he wanted the trails to end. Without Danforth's
ignorant court procedures and weak justice system, the trails would have gone
much better and the truth of the hysteria would have most likely been uncovered.

The ignorance and superstition of the people of Salem were responsible
for the witch hysteria. I believe that this kind of hysteria could never exist
in a society like I live in today. Today's courts are much better than the
theocratic church/courts of the late 1600's. Another thing to consider is that
our Declaration of Independence and our freedom states that we have freedom of
religion. So even if somebody was a "witch" and didn't harm anybody they would
receive more trouble from today's media than from the law. I am glad I didn't
have to go through that horror and I'm happy I never will.


 

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