Superstition In The Play The Crucible By


Superstition In The Play The Crucible By Arthur Miller Essay, Research Paper

Superstition in the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Grade Level: 10th

Date Created: September 18, 1995

Grade Received: B

Written by:

Erica Hankinson

Superstition and witchcraft resulted in many being hanged or in prison.

In the seventeenth century, a belief in witches and witchcraft was almost

universal. In Salem Massachusetts where the witch trials take place many people

who are suspicious is accused of witchcraft and hanged. Arthur Miller wrote a

play called The Crucible. It is based on the Salem witch trials. The Salem

witch trials change many peoples lives and even led to death for some. The

power of superstition and hearsay can distort from the truth.

Four ministers of Salem joined Matther, and they spent a whole day in

the house of the afflicted in fasting and prayer. The result of which was the

delivery of one of the family from the power of the witch. A niece and daughter

of the parish minister at Danvers were first afflicted. Their actions

frightened other young people, who soon showed the same symptoms, such as loss

of appetite and sickness. A belief quickly spread over Salem and throughout the

state that evil spirits are being seen in Salem. Terror took possession of the

minds of nearly all the people, and the dread made the affliction spread widely.

“The afflicted, under the influence of the witchery, “admitted to see the forms

of their tormentors with their inner vision” (Miller 1082). and would

immediately accuse some individual seen with the devil. At times the afflicted

and the accused became so numerous that no one was safe from suspicion and its

consequences. Even those who were active in the prosecutions became objects of


Revenge often impelled persons to accuse others who were innocent and

when some statement of the accused would move the court and audience in favor of

the prisoner. “I saw Goody Osborn with the devil” (Miller 1060). The accuser

would declare that they saw the devil standing beside the victim whispering the

words in his or her ear. The absurd statement would be believed by the judges.

Some, terrified and with the hope of saving their lives or avoiding the horrors

of imprisonment, would falsely accuse their friends and relatives, while others

moved by the same hopes, would falsely confess themselves to be witches. Many

of the accusers and witnesses came forward and published denials of the truth of

their testimony, to save their own lives. Mr. Paris in the Danver family, who

was one of the most strong prosecutors of alleged witches, was compelled to

resign his charge and leave the country.

The acknowledgments of error and pleadings for mercy, could not restore

the spirits of those who are hanged, nor make changes for the pains’ others had

suffered. The trick had prevailed in greatest desire more than six months, and

it was not decreasing for more than a year. During that time nineteen had been

hanged, and Corey Giles who is killed by the horrid process of pressing to death

with stones because he would say if was guilty or innocent. He continued to say

“more weight” (Miller 1113); until he died. In doing so, his family could keep

his land. Others had been tortured or frightened into a confession of guilt or


As one can see the power of superstition and the hearsay can distort the

truth. The Salem witch trials were horrifying and it changes many peoples lives.

The belief in witches did not end with the strange excitement. This strange

episode in the history of Massachusetts astonished the civilized world, and made

an unfavorable impression on others.


Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Ellen Bowler. ed. et al. Literature the American

Experiance. Englewood cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1994.


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