This leads into the deaths of the innocent people who are accused and automatically found guilty. In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the people of Salem are responsible for the witch hysteria. The person with the most influence on the hysteria is Abigail. In the past, Abigail had an affair with John Proctor. She gets jealous when Proctor leaves her to go back to his wife, Elizabeth.
Due to the fact that Elizabethans were afraid of evil, the odd people in communities started being accused of witchcraft. Witchcraft had a great impact of the daily and social lives of the Elizabethans. Soon neighbors slung accusations at each other and started ruckus all over England. Children rolled on the floor having convulsions and blaming random people for hexing or possessing them (Saintives). Anyone with odd names, weird looks, or were found mumbling chants, were accused of witchcraft and were put to death.
The Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism The Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s had many potent similarities to the McCarthyism of the 1950s. The Salem Witch Trials, which began after young girls spread accusations of witchcraft, caused panic, confusion, and disorder within the town of Salem, Massachusetts. The period of McCarthyism, known as the “Red Scare,” began after Senator Joseph McCarthy accused many Americans of communist involvement, causing disarray, chaos, and mass hysteria across the United States. Despite the significant time gap, the two events share stark similarities in their origins, propagation, and conclusions. Both events emanated from false accusations, gained momentum from the influence of public leaders, and ceased after the accusations proved to be inaccurate.
In this quote Abigail in The Crucible (published in 1952), tells Parris that they were accusing the girls of witchcraft because they were dancing in the woods. There was not proof that what the girls were doing was affiliated with witchcraft. “I saw Goody Hawkins with the devil” (51) the girls start naming off people to keep themselves out of trouble. This definitely could tie back to the McCarthy case because they were giving unjustified evidence. McCarthy was listing names of Communists but he had no proof behind it.
At the beginning of the play, Reverend Parris accused Abigail of witch craft but to avoid punishment she passed the blame to Tituba saying “I never called him! Tituba, Tituba…” (Miller 42). Abigail took no responsibility for her actions but blamed another person claiming, “She made me do it! She made Betty do it!” (Miller 43). Once Tituba confessed to witchcraft, Abigail joined in by accusing others of witchcraft so the negative attention would not be on the girls.
The Salem Witch Trials + Arthur Miller= A Good Movie Arthur Miller's The Crucible delivers a powerful message to its modern American viewers about one of the more controversial chapters of our country's history. As a dramatization of the Salem Witch Trials, the movie brought the historical context of the time period to the big screen. The trials, which began in 1692 and resulted in the deaths of nineteen people, demonstrated the dangers of allowing the blurring together of church and state so closely that a legal trial was used to determine the fate of those who "were working with the devil" (Divine, Breen, Fredrickson, Williams, Gross, Brands, 83). The story is set in seventeenth century Massachusetts, where Puritanism had become the social norm. One of the key themes is that under time of stress and adversity, neighbors, friends, and even family members have a tendency to turn on each other when they allow fear to govern their actions.
The fear generates distrust among one another and causes false accusation. These accusations are mainly towards women. When a woman does something out of the ordinary or when something happen because of natural causes she is automatically accused of witchcraft, for example when Mrs. Putnam accuses Rebecca Nurse for the death of her babies. Town’s people usually see those things as a threat to them and the only way to get rid of these women who show any kind of witchcraft is to exterminate by hanging them. As we look back on time we see that communism was a big threat to us after World War II.
The fear allows the witch trial hysteria to take over. In the Salem vicinity crops of rye were grown during this time many individuals were deemed “Possessed” by the Court of Law. The following spring after winter was very wet which caused “Claviceps” (a group of fungi) to grow on some of the grains. The “Ergot” fungus blight, formed a alkaloid producing mold. The “Ergot” fungus blight was very toxic and actually caused the strange behaviors exemplified by the people who were thought to be affected by witchcraft.
The Salem Witch Trials started by little girls acting strangely and then accusing others to have bewitched them. The defendants during the Salem Witch Trials took desperate matters to avoid being executed. Sarah Good resorted to saying the other accused “witch”, Sarah Osborne, had “tormented the children.” At one point Osborne even pretended to also have been infected by the witches’ magic. Tituba admitted to being a witch and told stories of flying around on broomsticks and being visited by creatures. Confessing to witchcraft was the only way a member of the accused wouldn’t be executed.
Soon after Tituba revealed this, the other girls that were involved also said they knew of witches in the village. Witchcraft is very hard to prove because of the fact that only the victim of the crime is the witness. In the trials that proceeded the accusation, all the judges had to go on was what the accuser said had happened. In the McCarthyism era, they also went by what they had heard from others, when they accused people. (Smikin) They would go by what man A had heard from man B about man C. Most people accused