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The Crucible By Arthur Miller

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Word Count: 2419In , the madness of the Salem witch trialsis explored in great detail. There are many theories as to why thewitch trials came about, the most popular of which is the girls’suppressed childhoods. However, there were other factors as well, suchas Abigail Williams’ affair with John Proctor, the secret grudges thatneighbors held against each other, and the physical and economicdifferences between the citizens of Salem Village. From a historical viewpoint, it is known that young girls in colonialMassachusetts were given little or no freedom to act like children.

They were expected to walk straight, arms by their sides, eyes slightlydowncast, and their mouths were to be shut unless otherwise asked tospeak. It is not surprising that the girls would find this type oflifestyle very constricting. To rebel against it, they played pranks,such as dancing in the woods, listening to slaves’ magic stories andpretending that other villagers were bewitching them. The Cruciblestarts after the girls in the village have been caught dancing in thewoods.

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As one of them falls sick, rumors start to fly that there iswitchcraft going on in the woods, and that the sick girl is bewitched. Once the girls talk to each other, they become more and more frightenedof being accused as witches, so Abigail starts accusing others ofpracticing witchcraft. The other girls all join in so that the blamewill not be placed on them. In The Crucible, Abigail starts theaccusations by saying, “I go back to Jesus; I kiss his hand. I saw SarahGood with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw BridgetBishop with the Devil!” Another girl, Betty, continues the cry with, “Isaw George Jacobs with the Devil! I saw Goody Howe with the Devil!” ;From here on, the accusations grow and grow until the jails overflowwith accused witches. It must have given them an incredible sense ofpower when the whole town of Salem listened to their words and believedeach and every accusation. After all, children were to be seen and notheard in Puritan society, and the newfound attention was probablyoverwhelming. In Act Three of The Crucible, the girls were calledbefore the judges to defend themselves against the claims that they wereonly acting. To prove their innocence, Abigail led the other girls in achilling scene. Abby acted as if Mary Warren sent her spirit up to therafters and began to talk to the spirit. “Oh Mary, this is a black artto change your shape. No, I cannot, I cannot stop my mouth; it’s God’swork I do.” The other girls all stared at the rafters in horror andbegan to repeat everything they heard. Finally, the girls’ hystericscaused Mary Warren to accuse John Proctor of witchcraft. Once the scamstarted, it was too late to stop, and the snowballing effect of wildaccusations soon resulted in the hanging of many innocents. After the wave of accusations began, grudges began to surface in thecommunity. Small slights were made out to be witchcraft, and badbusiness deals were blamed on witchery. Two characters in The Crucible,Giles Corey and Thomas Putnam, argue early on about a plot of land. Corey claims that he bought it from Goody Nurse but Putnam says he ownsit, and Goody Nurse had no right to sell it. Later, when Putnam’sdaughter accuses George Jacobs of witchery, Corey claims that Putnamonly wants Jacobs’ land. Giles says, “If Jacobs hangs for a witch heforfeit up his property – that’s law! And there is none but Putnam withthe coin to buy so great a piece. This man is killing his neighbors fortheir land!” Others also had hidden motives for accusing theirneighbors. Once the accusations began, everyone had a reason to accusesomeone else which is why the hangings got so out of hand. The wave ofaccusations can be likened to mass hysteria, in which the peopleinvolved are so caught up that they start having delusions of neighborsout to do them harm. One of the main accusers, Abigail Williams, had anulterior motive for accusing Elizabeth Proctor. In The Crucible,Abigail believed that if she got rid of Goody Proctor, then JohnProctor, her husband, would turn to Abby. John Proctor had an affairwith Abigail, but for him it was just lust, while Abigail believed it tobe true love. She told John that he loves her, and once she destroysElizabeth, they will be free to love one another. John is horrified atthis, but can do nothing to convince Abigail that he is not in love withher. Because of Abigail’s twisted plot to secure John for herself,Elizabeth is arrested. It is the hidden motives behind the accusationsthat fan the flames of the Salem witch trials.

To get the complete picture of the causes behind the witch trials, youmust look at the physical reasons as well. Two historians, Paul Boyerand Stephen Nissenbaum, drew a map of Salem Village and plotted theaccusers, the defendants, and the accused witches. An interestingpicture arose when a line was drawn dividing the town into east andwest. It became clear that nearly all the accusers lived on the westside, and almost all the defenders and accused witches lived on the eastside. To determine the cause of the east-west split, the historiansexamined many disputes, chief among them being the choice of ministers.

Once Salem Village was granted the right to have its own meeting house,quarrels arose over who would preach in the pulpit. There were fourministers between the time period of when the meeting house was builtand the end of the witch trials. The arguments over ministers soonbecame a power struggle. There were two factions that arose during thisdispute, and it was noted that one group supported two ministers whilethe other group supported the other two ministers. Each group wanted toprove its influence by choosing a minister and making him the spiritualguide to Salem Village. The two groups were found to coincide closelywith the east-west division. When the economical divisions of the village were examined, it was foundthat in general the western citizens of Salem Village lived an agrarianlifestyle and were hard-pressed economically. The land on the westernside was well-suited to farming and grazing. By contrast, the villagerson the east side were mainly merchants and lived fairly opulently. Theroad to Salem Town traveled through the east side of Salem Village. Many innkeepers and tavern owners lived on this road and made a goodprofit off all the travelers. Tension often arose between the twogroups because of their vastly different lifestyles. It is not difficult to see why a catastrophe such as the Salem witchtrials occurred. Once one accusation was made, it was easy to releaseall the buried suspicions and hatred into a wave of madness. TheCrucible simplifies the cause to make for a better story, but in realitythe reasons for the witch craft accusations were much more complex. Thereasons behind the accusations would result in many more quarrels overthe years, but none as interesting or as horrifying as the Salem witchtrials. In such a straight-laced Puritan society, there lived manypeople with hidden darkness in their hearts, and the Salem witch trialsexposed and magnified the consequences of those black desires.

In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, the madness of the Salem witch trialsis explored in great detail. There are many theories as to why thewitch trials came about, the most popular of which is the girls’suppressed childhoods. However, there were other factors as well, suchas Abigail Williams’ affair with John Proctor, the secret grudges thatneighbors held against each other, and the physical and economicdifferences between the citizens of Salem Village. From a historical viewpoint, it is known that young girls in colonialMassachusetts were given little or no freedom to act like children. They were expected to walk straight, arms by their sides, eyes slightlydowncast, and their mouths were to be shut unless otherwise asked tospeak. It is not surprising that the girls would find this type oflifestyle very constricting. To rebel against it, they played pranks,such as dancing in the woods, listening to slaves’ magic stories andpretending that other villagers were bewitching them. The Cruciblestarts after the girls in the village have been caught dancing in thewoods. As one of them falls sick, rumors start to fly that there iswitchcraft going on in the woods, and that the sick girl is bewitched. Once the girls talk to each other, they become more and more frightenedof being accused as witches, so Abigail starts accusing others ofpracticing witchcraft. The other girls all join in so that the blamewill not be placed on them. In The Crucible, Abigail starts theaccusations by saying, “I go back to Jesus; I kiss his hand. I saw SarahGood with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw BridgetBishop with the Devil!” Another girl, Betty, continues the cry with, “Isaw George Jacobs with the Devil! I saw Goody Howe with the Devil!” >From here on, the accusations grow and grow until the jails overflowwith accused witches. It must have given them an incredible sense ofpower when the whole town of Salem listened to their words and believedeach and every accusation. After all, children were to be seen and notheard in Puritan society, and the newfound attention was probablyoverwhelming. In Act Three of The Crucible, the girls were calledbefore the judges to defend themselves against the claims that they wereonly acting. To prove their innocence, Abigail led the other girls in achilling scene. Abby acted as if Mary Warren sent her spirit up to therafters and began to talk to the spirit. “Oh Mary, this is a black artto change your shape. No, I cannot, I cannot stop my mouth; it’s God’swork I do.” The other girls all stared at the rafters in horror andbegan to repeat everything they heard. Finally, the girls’ hystericscaused Mary Warren to accuse John Proctor of witchcraft. Once the scamstarted, it was too late to stop, and the snowballing effect of wildaccusations soon resulted in the hanging of many innocents. After the wave of accusations began, grudges began to surface in thecommunity. Small slights were made out to be witchcraft, and badbusiness deals were blamed on witchery. Two characters in The Crucible,Giles Corey and Thomas Putnam, argue early on about a plot of land. Corey claims that he bought it from Goody Nurse but Putnam says he ownsit, and Goody Nurse had no right to sell it. Later, when Putnam’sdaughter accuses George Jacobs of witchery, Corey claims that Putnamonly wants Jacobs’ land. Giles says, “If Jacobs hangs for a witch heforfeit up his property – that’s law! And there is none but Putnam withthe coin to buy so great a piece. This man is killing his neighbors fortheir land!” Others also had hidden motives for accusing theirneighbors. Once the accusations began, everyone had a reason to accusesomeone else which is why the hangings got so out of hand. The wave ofaccusations can be likened to mass hysteria, in which the peopleinvolved are so caught up that they start having delusions of neighborsout to do them harm. One of the main accusers, Abigail Williams, had anulterior motive for accusing Elizabeth Proctor. In The Crucible,Abigail believed that if she got rid of Goody Proctor, then JohnProctor, her husband, would turn to Abby. John Proctor had an affairwith Abigail, but for him it was just lust, while Abigail believed it tobe true love. She told John that he loves her, and once she destroysElizabeth, they will be free to love one another. John is horrified atthis, but can do nothing to convince Abigail that he is not in love withher. Because of Abigail’s twisted plot to secure John for herself,Elizabeth is arrested. It is the hidden motives behind the accusationsthat fan the flames of the Salem witch trials.

To get the complete picture of the causes behind the witch trials, youmust look at the physical reasons as well. Two historians, Paul Boyerand Stephen Nissenbaum, drew a map of Salem Village and plotted theaccusers, the defendants, and the accused witches. An interestingpicture arose when a line was drawn dividing the town into east andwest. It became clear that nearly all the accusers lived on the westside, and almost all the defenders and accused witches lived on the eastside. To determine the cause of the east-west split, the historiansexamined many disputes, chief among them being the choice of ministers.

Once Salem Village was granted the right to have its own meeting house,quarrels arose over who would preach in the pulpit. There were fourministers between the time period of when the meeting house was builtand the end of the witch trials. The arguments over ministers soonbecame a power struggle. There were two factions that arose during thisdispute, and it was noted that one group supported two ministers whilethe other group supported the other two ministers. Each group wanted toprove its influence by choosing a minister and making him the spiritualguide to Salem Village. The two groups were found to coincide closelywith the east-west division. When the economical divisions of the village were examined, it was foundthat in general the western citizens of Salem Village lived an agrarianlifestyle and were hard-pressed economically. The land on the westernside was well-suited to farming and grazing. By contrast, the villagerson the east side were mainly merchants and lived fairly opulently. Theroad to Salem Town traveled through the east side of Salem Village. Many innkeepers and tavern owners lived on this road and made a goodprofit off all the travelers. Tension often arose between the twogroups because of their vastly different lifestyles. It is not difficult to see why a catastrophe such as the Salem witchtrials occurred. Once one accusation was made, it was easy to releaseall the buried suspicions and hatred into a wave of madness. TheCrucible simplifies the cause to make for a better story, but in realitythe reasons for the witch craft accusations were much more complex. Thereasons behind the accusations would result in many more quarrels overthe years, but none as interesting or as horrifying as the Salem witchtrials. In such a straight-laced Puritan society, there lived manypeople with hidden darkness in their hearts, and the Salem witch trialsexposed and magnified the consequences of those black desires.

Cite this The Crucible By Arthur Miller

The Crucible By Arthur Miller. (2019, May 11). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-crucible-by-arthur-miller/

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