The deterioration of Salem’s social structure precipitated themurders of many innocent people. Arthur Miller’s depiction of theSalem witch trials, The Crucible, deals with a community thatstarts out looking like it is tightly knit and church loving. Itturns out that once Tituba starts pointing her finger at thewitches, the community starts pointing their fingers at eachother. Hysteria and hidden agendas break down the social structureand then everyone must protect themselves from the people thatthey thought were their friends.
The church, legal system and thetogetherness of the community died so that children could protecttheir families’ social status. Being isolated from any other group of people with differentbeliefs created a church led Puritan society that was not able toaccept a lot of change. The church was against the devil, at thesame time it was against such things as dancing and otherpremature acts. The reputation of the family was very important tothe members of the community.Order now
When the girls were caught dancingin the woods, they lied to protect not just themselves but thereputation of their families. They claimed that the devil tookthem over and influenced them to dance. The girls also said thatthey saw members of the town standing with the devil. A communityliving in a puritan society like Salem could easily go into achaotic state and have a difficult time dealing with what theyconsider to be the largest form of evil. Salem’s hysteria made the community lose faith in the spiritualbeliefs that they were trying to strictly enforce.
The church lostmany of its parishioners because the interest of the town was nowon Abigail because people wanted to know who was going to be namednext. When the church was trying to excommunicate John Proctor,there were not enough people at church to do it. The people weregetting misled so far as to leave a dagger stuck in the door oftheir minister’s house: Tonight, when I open my door to leave myhouse_a dagger clattered to the ground…There is danger forme. (128) were Parris’ exact words. With the conveyer of Godfearing for his life there was no longer anyone but Abigail tolead the community.
The justice system is designed to protect the people that itserves but during the trials the accused witch had two choices, death or imprisonment. The punishment of death was given to allpeople that pleaded not guilty; the other punishment was to pleadguilty and go to jail. John Proctor gave his view of the justicesystem when he said I like not the smell of this `authority’ (29). And do you know that near to four hundred are in the jails fromMarblehead to Lynn, and upon my signature? (85) said Danforth,describing the number of people that were in jail on charges ofwitchcraft.
There were so many people executed that Hale commentedthere are orphans wandering from house to house; abandoned cattlebellow on the highroads, the stink of rotting crops hangseverywhere…(130) Salem was turning into a ghost town. WithAbigail controlling the community, the church no longer gettingthe whole town to prayer, and an unjust legal system, it isnatural that the people were in a state of total chaos. The unexplained was caused by the devil, so some members of Salemused the unexplained to their advantage.
Mrs. Putnam told thetruth when she said, There are wheels within wheels in thisvillage, and fires within fires! 6) Mrs. Putnam did her share ofspreading rumors after she heard that the girls were flying, soshe asked Parris How high did she (Abigail) fly, how high? (11). These rumors happened because people did not want any blame put onto themselves. This `passing the buck’ made people start fightingwith one another such as Corey charging Putnam of having hisdaughter accuse a resident of witchcraft in order to get Corey’sland. Abigail used her power of getting people to listen to her toher advantage when she charged Proctor’s spouse with being a witchso Abigail could live with John.
This again proves that Abigailhad control of the town and the unexplained turned neighboragainst neighbor. The social breakdown in Salem was the major factor in the tragedythat took the lives of many innocent people. There was more thanone tragedy in The Crucible. The first was the murdering of manyinnocent people, and the second was that a community that was oncevery close had been broken apart. It appeared that the people ofSalem were like a family but isolation actually made them unableto adapt to a troublesome situation.