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The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, is based on the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts. The Crucible deals with a community, which everybody lived in a normal society and everybody attended church. However, one night, a group of girls were caught dancing in the woods. Some people accuse them for doing witchcraft.
Therefore, they lied to protect not just themselves but the reputation of their families. They claimed that the devil took them over and influenced them to dance. One of the main girls in the group named Tituba, starts pointing her finger at different people, accusing them of being witches. Finally, the other girls also say that they saw members of the town standing with the devil. The community starts pointing their fingers at each other to get themselves out of trouble. In the seventeenth century, superstition of witchcraft made many people lose their lives by being hanged or being in prison.
The power of superstition and scapegoating can distort from the truth and change many peoples lives and even led to death for some innocent people. Some people in the community believe that a Parish minister name Parris, his niece, and his daughter were first afflicted for witchcraft. The actions that Parris daughter and his niece frightens other young people, who soon shows the same symptoms, such as poor health and a loss of appetite. They were murdered, Mr. Parris! And mark this proof!
Mark it! Last night my Ruth were ever so close to their little spirits; I know it sir. For how else is she struck dumb now except some power of darkness would stop her mouth? It is a marvelous sign, Mr. Parris! (pg. 16) Mrs. Putnam cries, blaming witchcraft for the cause of Betty's sickness and being unable to speak.
The belief quickly spread over Salem and throughout the state that evil spirits are being seen in Salem. Terror and superstition took control of the minds of nearly all the people because of this event. People immediately accuse some individual seen with the devil. At times, the afflicted and the accused became so numerous that no one was safe from suspicion and its consequences. Superstition causes people to suspect ill health is caused by the devil. They believe that the devil has taken over the persons spirit, causing them to be speechless.
The people believe that sickness is not just a natural cause. There was so much superstition going on in the community that the people who were active in the prosecutions can also become objects of suspicion. Mary Warren returns home after a court session one day and reports to Mr. and Mrs.
Proctor about what has happen that day in the court. She tells them that Goody Osburn will be hang, but not Sarah Good because she has confess with working for the devil. Mary Warren claims that Goody Osburn sends her spirit out in court to choke them, and often mumbles whenever others turn her away when she begs. So many time, Mr. Proctor, she come to this very door, begin bread and a cup of cider- and mark this: whenever I turned her away empty, she mumbled. (pg. 57) The superstition of this event causes Goody Osburn to lose her live. Some people like Sarah Good, being terrify and with the hope of saving her own life, falsely confess herself to be a witch.
Sarah Good confess that she have made compact with Lucifer, and has signed in his black book to worship Hell forever. Some of the accusers and witnesses use superstition to lie about the truth of their testimony, in order to save their own lives. The motive of revenge often encourages people to accuse others who were innocent. At the beginning of the play, Abigail Williams lied to save her own life, even if it meant that she would hurt somebody.
However, later in the play, she realizes that she can also blame somebody for witchcraft for her own benefit. Abigail purposely frames Elizabeth Proctor out of revenge, using the poppet that she saw Mary Warren making in the courtroom and putting a needle in the body of the poppet. The girl, the Williams girl, Abigail Williams, sir. She sat to dinner in Reverend Parris house tonight, and without word nor warren she falls to the floor.
Like a struck beast, he says, and screamed a scream that a bull would weep to hear. And he goes to save her, and, stuck two inches in the flesh of her belly, he draw a needle out. And demand of her how she come to be so stubbed, she testify it were your wifes spirit pushed it in. (pg. 74) Cheever explains to everybody about what has happen. This event also shows that Elizabeth Proctor can be a cold hearted or an evil person when she said, Why-!
The girl is murder! She must be ripped out of the world! (pg. 76) Elizabeth's speech causes Cheever and some other people to increase their superstition on how Elizabeth can do such an evil event. It causes the people to believe more that Elizabeth has used voodoo to send her spirit to stab Abigail in the belly. Cheever proceeds to take Elizabeth away. The power of superstition and rumors can misrepresent many truths. Superstition and scapegoating took the lives of many innocent people in the small community of Massachusetts.
The Salem witch trials were horrifying and it has changed many peoples lives. There is more than one tragedy in The Crucible. The first is the murdering of many innocent people. The second is that a community that was once very close has been broken apart. It also appears that the people of Salem were like a family, but isolation has actually made them unable to adapt to a troublesome situation like witchcraft. If the community has a greater influence from another group of people, then the social structure would have been able to adapt.
Superstition and scapegoating plays an important part in this play. This play shows that even a single teenager can harm an entire village by accusing somebody else of witchcraft. The accusation can later multiply and harm a large amount of innocent people. Bibliography:
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Research essay sample on Salem Witch Trials Elizabeth Proctor