The Crucible by Arthur Miller is a play about the Salem witch trials that occurred in the late 1600’s. The scare about the witches was a result of a group of girls dancing in the forest. Dancing was not tolerated by the Puritans in that time. News about the dancing got out, and rumors were started about witchcraft. This is what triggered the Salem witch trials, but what kept it going was greed, jealousy, and the desire for revenge. Once the trials were started, accused people were pointing fingers at just about everyone and calling them out as witches. No one was safe. At first the only people to be accused were the lowlifes in the village, so no one really thought anything was wrong with the trials. Then some of the more respected people were called out as witches. After a few of the respected people were hung, the village realized something was wrong. A short time later, the court was thrown out, and there were no more hangings. In less than a year, a total of nineteen men and women were hung because of the paranoia and fear during the Salem witch trials.
The Puritans were a very proper and dignified society. Dancing was considered evil and was something only the savages did. It was punishable by whipping. In Act One, the girls were deciding whether to tell the truth about what happened in the woods. Mary Warren said to Abigail, “Abby, we’ve got to tell. Witchery’s a hangin’ error, a hangin’ like they done in Boston two year ago! We must tell the truth, Abby! You’ll only be whipped for dancin’ and the other things!”(18) Although this clearly shows that dancing was a punishable crime in that time, witchcraft was a much more serious offense.
Puritans had very rigid beliefs about the Bible and God and the Devil. They believed that witches made compacts with the Devil to do his evil work on earth. This made witchcraft one of the worst crimes a person could commit, because it put the whole village at risk of being corrupted by the Devil. In Act One, Reverend Hale interrogated Tituba about her compact with the Devil. He said to her, “You are God’s instrument put in our hands to discover the Devil’s agents among us. You are selected, Tituba, you are chosen to help us cleanse our village. So speak utterly, Tituba, turn your back on him and face God -- face God, Tituba, and God will protect you.”(46) This shows that the Puritans believed the only way to cleanse the village was to identify the witches and either bring them back to God through confession of their guilt, or hang them.
The Puritans were so fixed on driving the Devil from their village that they didn’t even stop to think about why some of these people were being accused of witchcraft. What started as a result of girls dancing in the woods snowballed into a frenzy of accusations. In Act Three, during one of the trials, Danforth states, “Mr. Putnam, I have here an accusation by Mr. Corey against you. He states that you coldly prompted your daughter to cry witchery upon George Jacobs that is now in jail.” (96) Putnam denied the charge, and Danforth asked what proof Giles Corey had for this charge. Giles responded, “My proof is there! 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!” (96) In many of these witch trials, greed, revenge, and jealousy became the real motives for calling out witches.
The Aids epidemic is similar to the Salem witch hunts. People are afraid of the Aids epidemic taking over our society like the Puritans were aftraid that the witches were going to take over their villages. People are afraid of things they don’t understand. No one really understood witchcraft because it was an invisible crime. No one really understands how or why the Aids virus spread. Witchcraft was first known in the lowlifes of the villages, just like Aids was considered to be an epidemic related to drug users and homosexuals. In reality, anyone can be