Human Nature Causing Mass Hysteria in The Crucible

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Arthur Miller illustrates blame, majority versus minority, ideology as being natural human tendencies and driving forces to the mass hysteria in the town of Salem. The citizens of Salem spread many preposterous lies and rumors out Of fear and even for their own personal gain. Naturally, blaming someone else for wrongdoing is an immediate and instinctive reaction. For example, the fear of getting in trouble can drive one to put the blame on someone else in order to avoid the consequences. The characters in The Crucible rely on blame to get out of hard situations, motivated by this aspect of fear.

Towards the very beginning of the novel, Betty and Abigail have many suspicions surrounding them, and they need to direct the townspeople’s wrath away from themselves. Abigail claims that “l saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osborn with Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil” (Miller 48)! Abigail and Betty therefore avoid their initial fate. As the book progressed, the lies piled on top of each other, and soon everyone wanted in on the action. Blame turned into a use of getting back at one another.

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For instance, Ann Putnam claims Rebecca Nurse “murdered even babies by sending out her spirit on them” (Miller 56). Rebecca Nurse is falsely accused, arrested and later executed. In turn, the natural inclination to blame other leads to false accusations and overall mass hysteria. When the majority of people in a group start to believe a certain thing, it is likely that the others in that group will naturally conform to these ideas. This idea of majority versus minority is argued to be another human tendency causing of the mass hysteria in The Crucible.

Throughout the novel, wrong ideas were Ewing defined as right without concrete evidence. Once a few members of the community influenced an idea, naturally, more started to believe that this idea might be true. For instance, Abigail and her band of friends convince the judge, and many other citizens that witchcraft is, in fact alive in the town of Salem. Once they tricked one person, it spread and spread until, finally, the entire community was convinced. One such person who helped convince others was Reverend Hale. Hale originally comes to Salem in search of witches, and citizens look to him as their all knowing savior.

Reverend Hale is an intellectual man, and he has studied witchcraft extensively, therefore making him naturally believable and convincing to those who follow and listen to him. Hales goal is purely “light, goodness, and its preservation” (Miller 24). Another such person was Deputy Governor Detonator, who followed the hype around the hysteria. Since he is of high authority, and is respected throughout the community, citizens believe what he says must be true. He felt that what he was doing was right. He said, “Now hear me, and beguile yourselves no more.

I will not receive a single plea for pardon or postponement. Them that will not confess will hang. Twelve are already executed; the names of these seven are given out, and the village expects to see them die this morning. Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now” (Miller 97). He is truly convinced that the actions he is taking are necessary for the town. Once the entire town was convinced, accusation became a death sentence that no one could escape.

The aspect of majority errors minority is apart of human nature and helps to build up the conflict of mass hysteria in the town of Salem. The Puritan society is religious and tightly bound. They initially came to America to practice their religion in peace, and the community has worked together in order to survive. Their rules and morals are based On their religion, with no form of government. This strong faith was evident in the residents of Salem, Massachusetts. Puritans believed that the English Protestant Church was becoming corrupted, and solidly stuck to their theory that they were the chosen ones by

God, and thus every rule they set in place was regimented by God himself. Ideology is a set of beliefs or ideas that are the basis of social theories (Fischer, Claude). Many of the church leaders in Salem followed a very strict view on what the description of witches were. They refused to look beyond the reputation and good morals that the character possessed. Many of these court officials believed that whatever happened in the court would be the truth and nothing but the truth. They felt that if they didn’t lie in the courtroom then a lawyer did not need to be present.

Judge Detonator States, “As for the witches, none will deny that we are most eager for all their confessions. Therefore, what is left for a lawyer to bring out” (Miller 59). They were strict in many of their ways. Along with this, the narrow-minded Puritans were easily deceived by Abigail, who is a very deceptive antagonist. They were so brainwashed by the doctrines placed, and they believed whatever the higher authority told them to believe. No one ever sat down and truly evaluated and concluded that there was no evidence.

This natural human indecency to place their belief in ideology played a key role in the formation of mass hysteria. Through the development of blame, majority versus minority, and ideology, three naturally occurring human instinctive, mass hysteria is driven throughout Salem. Arthur Millers, The Crucible, teaches readers many lessons about human nature and its effects as a whole. Human nature was fully to blame for the disaster which took place in Salem in 1692. The decisions made by the people were critical to the disasters progression.

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Human Nature Causing Mass Hysteria in The Crucible. (2018, Apr 21). Retrieved from

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