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The witchcraft hysteria in 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


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.

Source: Essay UK -

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