English - The Crucible by Arthur Miller

The True Devils in Salem

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,