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The Crucible – Witch Trials Essay

In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, the madness of the Salem witch trials is explored in great detail. There are many theories as to why
the witch trials came about, the most popular of which is the girls’
suppressed childhoods. However, there were other factors as well, such
as Abigail Williams’ affair with John Proctor, the secret grudges that
neighbors held against each other, and the physical and economic
differences between the citizens of Salem Village.

From a historical
viewpoint, it is known that young girls in colonial Massachusetts were
given little or no freedom to act like children. They were expected to
walk straight, arms by their sides, eyes slightly downcast, and their
mouths were to be shut unless otherwise asked to speak. It is not
surprising that the girls would find this type of lifestyle very
constricting. To rebel against it, they played pranks, such as dancing
in the woods, listening to slaves’ magic stories and pretending that
other villagers were bewitching them.

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The Crucible starts after the
girls in the village have been caught dancing in the woods. As one of
them falls sick, rumors start to fly that there is witchcraft going on
in the woods, and that the sick girl is bewitched. Once the girls talk
to each other, they become more and more frightened of being accused
as witches, so Abigail starts accusing others of practicing
witchcraft. The other girls all join in so that the blame will not be
placed on them.

In The Crucible, Abigail starts the accusations by
saying, “I go back to Jesus; I kiss his hand. I saw Sarah Good with
the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop
with the Devil!” Another girl, Betty, continues the cry with, “I saw
George Jacobs with the Devil! I saw Goody Howe with the Devil!” ;From
here on, the accusations grow and grow until the jails overflow with
accused witches. It must have given them an incredible sense of power
when the whole town of Salem listened to their words and believed each
and every accusation. After all, children were to be seen and not
heard in Puritan society, and the newfound attention was probably
overwhelming.

In Act Three of The Crucible, the girls were called
before the judges to defend themselves against the claims that they
were only acting. To prove their innocence, Abigail led the other
girls in a chilling scene. Abby acted as if Mary Warren sent her
spirit up to the rafters and began to talk to the spirit. “Oh Mary,
this is a black art to change your shape.

No, I cannot, I cannot stop
my mouth; it’s God’s work I do.” The other girls all stared at the
rafters in horror and began to repeat everything they heard. Finally,
the girls’ hysterics caused Mary Warren to accuse John Proctor of
witchcraft. Once the scam started, it was too late to stop, and the
snowballing effect of wild accusations soon resulted in the hanging of
many innocents.

After the wave of accusations began, grudges began to
surface in the community. Small slights were made out to be
witchcraft, and bad business 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 owns it, and Goody Nurse had no right to sell
it.

Later, when Putnam’s daughter accuses George Jacobs of witchery,
Corey claims that Putnam only wants Jacobs’ land. Giles says, “If
Jacobs hangs for a witch he forfeit up his property – that’s law! And
there is none but Putnam with the coin to buy so great a piece. This
man is killing his neighbors for their land!” Others also had hidden
motives for accusing their neighbors. Once the accusations began,
everyone had a reason to accuse someone else which is why the hangings
got so out of hand.

The wave of accusations can be likened to mass
hysteria, in which the people involved are so caught up that they
start having delusions of neighbors out to do them harm. One of the
main accusers, Abigail Williams, had an ulterior motive for accusing
Elizabeth Proctor. In The Crucible, Abigail believed that if she got
rid of Goody Proctor, then John Proctor, her husband, would turn to
Abby. John Proctor had an affair with Abigail, but for him it was just
lust, while Abigail believed it to be true love.

She told John that he
loves her, and once she destroys Elizabeth, they will be free to love
one another. John is horrified at this, but can do nothing to convince
Abigail that he is not in love with her. Because of Abigail’s twisted
plot to secure John for herself, Elizabeth is arrested. It is the
hidden motives behind the accusations that fan the flames of the Salem
witch trials.


To get the complete picture of the causes behind the witch
trials, you must look at the physical reasons as well. Two historians,
Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, drew a map of Salem Village and
plotted the accusers, the defendants, and the accused witches. An
interesting picture arose when a line was drawn dividing the town into
east and west. It became clear that nearly all the accusers lived on
the west side, and almost all the defenders and accused witches lived
on the east side.

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To determine the cause of the east-west split, the
historians examined 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 four ministers between the time period of when the meeting
house was built and the end of the witch trials. The arguments over
ministers soon became a power struggle.

There were two factions that
arose during this dispute, and it was noted that one group supported
two ministers while the other group supported the other two ministers.
Each group wanted to prove its influence by choosing a minister and
making him the spiritual guide to Salem Village. The two groups were
found to coincide closely with the east-west division. When the
economical divisions of the village were examined, it was found that
in general the western citizens of Salem Village lived an agrarian
lifestyle and were hard-pressed economically.

The land on the western
side was well-suited to farming and grazing. By contrast, the
villagers on the east side were mainly merchants and lived fairly
opulently. The road to Salem Town traveled through the east side of
Salem Village. Many innkeepers and tavern owners lived on this road
and made a good profit off all the travelers.

Tension often arose
between the two groups because of their vastly different lifestyles.
It is not difficult to see why a catastrophe such as the Salem
witch trials occurred. Once one accusation was made, it was easy to
release all the buried suspicions and hatred into a wave of madness.
The Crucible simplifies the cause to make for a better story, but in
reality the reasons for the witch craft accusations were much more
complex.

The reasons behind the accusations would result in many more
quarrels over the years, but none as interesting or as horrifying as
the Salem witch trials. In such a straight-laced Puritan society,
there lived many people with hidden darkness in their hearts, and the
Salem witch trials exposed and magnified the consequences of those
black desires. In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, the madness of the
Salem witch trials is explored in great detail. There are many
theories as to why the witch trials came about, the most popular of
which is the girls’ suppressed childhoods.

However, there were other
factors as well, such as Abigail Williams’ affair with John Proctor,
the secret grudges that neighbors held against each other, and the
physical and economic differences between the citizens of Salem
Village.
From a historical viewpoint, it is known that young girls in
colonial Massachusetts were given little or no freedom to act like
children. They were expected to walk straight, arms by their sides,
eyes slightly downcast, and their mouths were to be shut unless
otherwise asked to speak. It is not surprising that the girls would
find this type of lifestyle very constricting.

To rebel against it,
they played pranks, such as dancing in the woods, listening to slaves’
magic stories and pretending that other villagers were bewitching
them. The Crucible starts after the girls in the village have been
caught dancing in the woods. As one of them falls sick, rumors start
to fly that there is witchcraft going on in the woods, and that the
sick girl is bewitched. Once the girls talk to each other, they become
more and more frightened of being accused as witches, so Abigail
starts accusing others of practicing witchcraft.

The other girls all
join in so that the blame will not be placed on them. In The Crucible,
Abigail starts the accusations by saying, “I go back to Jesus; I kiss
his hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the
Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!” Another girl, Betty,
continues the cry with, “I saw George Jacobs with the Devil! I
saw Goody Howe with the Devil!” >From here on, the accusations grow
and grow until the jails overflow with accused witches. It must have
given them an incredible sense of power when the whole town of Salem
listened to their words and believed each and every accusation.

After
all, children were to be seen and not heard in Puritan society, and
the newfound attention was probably overwhelming. In Act Three of The
Crucible, the girls were called before the judges to defend
themselves against the claims that they were only acting. To prove
their innocence, Abigail led the other girls in a chilling scene.Abby acted as if Mary Warren sent her spirit up to the rafters and
began to talk to the spirit.

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“Oh Mary, this is a black art to change
your shape. No, I cannot, I cannot stop my mouth; it’s God’s work I
do.” The other girls all stared at the rafters in horror and began to
repeat everything they heard. Finally, the girls’ hysterics caused
Mary Warren to accuse John Proctor of witchcraft.

Once the scam
started, it was too late to stop, and the snowballing effect of wild
accusations soon resulted in the hanging of many innocents. After the
wave of accusations began, grudges began to surface in the community.
Small slights were made out to be witchcraft, and bad business 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 owns it, and
Goody Nurse had no right to sell it. Later, when Putnam’s daughter
accuses George Jacobs of witchery, Corey claims that Putnam only wants
Jacobs’ land. Giles says, “If Jacobs hangs for a witch he forfeit up
his property – that’s law! And there is none but Putnam with the coin
to buy so great a piece. This man is killing his neighbors for their
land!” Others also had hidden motives for accusing their neighbors.


Once the accusations began, everyone had a reason to accuse someone
else which is why the hangings got so out of hand. The wave of
accusations can be likened to mass hysteria, in which the people
involved are so caught up that they start having delusions of
neighbors out to do them harm. One of the main accusers, Abigail
Williams, had an ulterior motive for accusing Elizabeth Proctor. In
The Crucible, Abigail believed that if she got rid of Goody Proctor,
then John Proctor, her husband, would turn to Abby.

John Proctor had
an affair with Abigail, but for him it was just lust, while Abigail
believed it to be true love. She told John that he loves her, and once
she destroys Elizabeth, they will be free to love one another. John is
horrified at this, but can do nothing to convince Abigail that he is
not in love with her. Because of Abigail’s twisted plot to secure John
for herself, Elizabeth is arrested.

It is the hidden motives behind
the accusations that fan the flames of the Salem witch trials. To get
the complete picture of the causes behind the witch trials, you must
look at the physical reasons as well. Two historians, Paul Boyer and
Stephen Nissenbaum, drew a map of Salem Village and plotted the
accusers, the defendants, and the accused witches. An interesting
picture arose when a line was drawn dividing the town into east and
west.

It became clear that nearly all the accusers lived on the west
side, and almost all the defenders and accused witches lived
on the east side. To determine the cause of the east-west split, the
historians examined 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 four ministers between the time period of when
the meeting house was built and the end of the witch trials.

The
arguments over ministers soon became a power struggle. There were two
factions that arose during this dispute, and it was noted that one
group supported two ministers while the other group supported the
other two ministers. Each group wanted to prove its influence by
choosing a minister and making him the spiritual guide to Salem
Village. The two groups were found to coincide closely with the
east-west division.

When the economical divisions of the village were
examined, it was found that in general the western citizens of Salem
Village lived an agrarian lifestyle and were hard-pressed
economically. The land on the western side was well-suited to farming
and grazing. By contrast, the villagers on the east side were mainly
merchants and lived fairly opulently. The road to Salem Town traveled
through the east side of Salem Village.

Many innkeepers and tavern
owners lived on this road and made a good profit off all the
travelers. Tension often arose between the two groups because of their
vastly different lifestyles. It is not difficult to see why a
catastrophe such as the Salem witch trials occurred. Once one
accusation was made, it was easy to release all the buried suspicions
and hatred into a wave of madness.

The Crucible simplifies the cause
to make for a better story, but in reality the reasons for the witch
craft accusations were much more complex. The reasons behind the
accusations would result in many more quarrels over the years, but
none as interesting or as horrifying as the Salem witch trials. In
such a straight-laced Puritan society, there lived many people with
hidden darkness in their hearts, and the Salem witch trials exposed
and magnified the consequences of those black desires.

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The Crucible - Witch Trials Essay
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In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, the madness of the Salem witch trials is explored in great detail. There are many theories as to why
the witch trials came about, the most popular of which is the girls'
suppressed childhoods. However, there were other factors as well, such
as Abigail Williams' affair with John Proctor, the secret grudges that
neighbors held against each other, and the physical and economic
differences between the citizens of Salem Village. From a h
2018-12-27 02:01:39
The Crucible - Witch Trials Essay
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