Witchcraft Hysteria in “The Crucible”In 1692, in Salem Massachusetts, the superstition of witches existedin a society of strong Christian beliefs. Anybody who acted out of theordinary was accused of being a witch and then the accuse would actually beforgiven if the blamed their accusations on another individual. This was themain idea of a play entitled, The Crucible by Arthur Miller. In this play agroup of young girls act up and are then accused of being witches. Thesegirls then blame other people in order to get out of trouble and even pretendto be “bewitched” in front of the court during a trial. This leads into thedeaths of some innocent people who were accused and automatically found guilty. I believe, in many ways the people of Salem were responsible for the witchhysteria. The person with the most influence was the character, Abigail.Abigail had an affair with a man by the name of John Proctor. Proctor brokecontact with Abigail and spent time and interest in his wife, Elizabeth.Abigail gets jealous because of this and Abigail, a few other girls, and aservant from the Caribbean named Tituba dance around in a order that theybelieve it will kill Proctor’s wife. Rev. Parris, Abigail’s uncle, sees thisand reports it. When Abigail is questioned about this, she denies everythingand doesn’t tell the truth about what really happened. The news of her andthe other girl’s strange actions gets around and the hysteria starts.Without Abigail’s superstition, and her fear or telling the truth, I thinkthe events in The Crucible wouldn’t have gotten as serious as they did oreven 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 andget along well. John Proctor adds to the hysteria when he and his wife aretalking about Abigail and why she is acting so oddly. Although John Proctorknows she is making up everything and blaming innocent people, he isreluctant to travel to Salem and testify her as a fraud to the court. If hewould 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 lethim occurs when at the end of Act IV he says he will confess to the law whohe 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 theconfession and he hangs because of it. Although eventually John Proctor didadd to the hysteria a little, he still helped it stop. The last person I think was played a big part in the spirit of thewitch hysteria is Governor Danforth. Danforth was a big part of the actualtrials 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 inmy opinion, if you are on trial and you don’t believe what the court believesthen you are guilty. His words in this sentence where a huge part of theconclusion on what eventually happened to the girls and all that wereinvolved. The court believed they were all witches and they really had nochance to prove them wrong. Danforth contributed to the hysteria another wayin 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 hewanted these trials over fast and he wanted it to turn out the way he wantedthe trails to end. Without Danforth’s ignorant court procedures and weakjustice system, the trails would have gone much better and the truth of thehysteria would have most likely been uncovered. The ignorance and superstition of the people of Salem wereresponsible for the witch hysteria. I believe that this kind of hysteriacould never exist in a society like I live in today. Today’s courts are muchbetter than the theocratic church/courts of the late 1600’s. Another thing toconsider is that our Declaration of Independence and our freedom states thatwe have freedom of religion. So even if somebody was a “witch” and didn’t harmanybody 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.