The Crucible

How does hysteria begin to form? Does this lead to finger pointing?

ACT 1 of The crucible

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The Puritan society of The Crucible is a religious, tightly bound, and watchful group of people. They came to America to practice their religion in peace, and the community has worked together in order to survive. Their rules and morals are based on their religion, not any form of government. It was a society built on beliefs and values.

The Crucible shows a community that is "ready" to turn on each other. There was no privacy, and everyone knew what went on in everyone else's home. Reputation was almost as important as godliness, and within this town they are actually equal. Reverend Parris must NOT lose his pristine reputation. The illness of his daughter, and the actions of his niece Abigail are all suspect.

Rumors of witchcraft are alive and well in Salem. The girls use it to cover up their actions, the reverend uses it to protect his daughter, niece, and his own reputation, and the community feeds into it. This is what causes mass hysteria. The girls speak of witchcraft, but never in terms of their having dabbled in it themselves; it all finger pointing and getting out of trouble. Abigail is the ring leader. The actions of the masses (or mobs if you will) haven't changed much over the years.

In The Crucible, neighbors suddenly turn on each other and accuse people they’ve known for years of practicing witchcraft and devil-worship. The town of Salem falls into mass hysteria, a condition in which community-wide fear overwhelms logic and individual thought and ends up justifying its own existence. Fear feeds fear: in order to explain to itself why so many people are afraid, the community begins to believe that the fear must have legitimate origins.

In The Crucible, hysterical fear becomes an unconscious means of expressing the resentment and anger suppressed by strict Puritan society. Some citizens of Salem use the charge of witchcraft willfully and for personal gain, but most are genuinely overcome by the town’s collective hysteria: they believe the devil is attacking Salem. And if the devil is attacking your town, then ensuring that your neighbor is punished for selling you a sick pig suddenly becomes a religious necessity, a righteous act that protects the God you love and proves that you’re not a witch or a devil-worshipper. The Crucible shows how religious fervor fuels hysteria and leads to conditions that sacrifice justice and reason.


The Crucible/ Act I