The Crucible By Arthur Miller

Word Count: 2419In , 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. “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.

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. “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.