The Crucible Deterioration Of Social Order In

The Crucible: Deterioration Of Social Order In Salem Essay, Research Paper

The Crucible: Deterioration of Social Order In Salem

The trumped-up witch hysteria in Salem, Massachusetts, deteriorated the

rational, and emotional stability of its citizens. This exploited the

populations weakest qualities, and insecurities. The obvious breakdown in

Salem’s social order led to the tragedy which saw twenty innocent people hung on

the accusation of witchcraft. Arthur Miller, author of The Crucible, used

hysteria to introduce personality flaws in vulnerable characters. A rigid

social system, fear, and confusion were evident conditions that became

prevalent before and during the witchtrials. These conditions only contributed

to the tragedy in Salem.

The isolation of the Puritan society created a rigid social system that

did not allow for any variation in lifestyle. The strict society that was

employed at this time had a detrimental effect on the Proctor family. John

Proctor, a hard working farmer who had a bad season the year before and

struggling this year was occasionally absent at Sunday service. This was due to

the fact he needed to tend to his crops. Also, Proctor did not agree with the

appointment of Mr. Parris as the newest minister, and therefore did not have

his last child baptized. With the latest craze of witchery and swirling

accusations, John Proctor was easily indicted of being a messenger for the

devil by the testimony of his disillusioned servant Mary Warren, who in the

past committed perjury. The court who heard the testimony easily accepts it

because she is a church going person, while John Proctor slightly deviates from

the norm. This transfer of blame is also noticeable when the truth is first

discovered about what the girls were doing in the woods. The girls were not

blamed. The blame was put on Tituba, the ?black? slave who was said to have ?

charmed? the girls. Abigail swears that ?she [Tituba] made me do it?.(pg.40) It

is obvious that in the Puritan society that whatever did not conform to what

the masses had decided as proper, then the deviated, but innocent, were to

blame. This practice contributed to the tragedy in Salem.

The fear of what was unknown created an uneasiness within Salem’s

population that added to Salem’s social demise. The circumstances surrounding

the witchtrials gave residents something to blame the supernatural on. The

condemning of Tituba was mainly due to this. When Tituba took the girls into

the woods, and they performed their ceremony, something the Puritans were not

accustom to, she convicted of witchery. Along with Tituba, Martha Corey was

indicted solely because she would not allow Giles to read them. Giles also

stated that ?I tried and tried and could not say my prayers. And then she close

her book and walks out of the house, and suddenly–mark this–I could pray

again!?(pg.38) This evidence of witchery is preposterous. The only thing that

is true is that Giles was not allowed to read the books, and because he did not

what the books contained, he feared them. This type of reaction throughout the

community to the supernatural, and what was not known indicted many people, and

contributed to the tragedy in Salem.

The state of mass confusion in Salem created a society of individuals

who were only concerned with what was good for them, so that they would not be

the next one implicated in the witchery scandal. This situation is clearly

evident after Hale becomes privy to the true story of what happened in the woods.

Abigail abandons Tituba, and accuses her of ?sending her spirit on me in church;

she makes me laugh at prayer?(pg.41), and Abigail also says Tituba ?comes to me

every night to go and drink blood?[devil's blood](pg.41). Abigail reacts like

this only to save her from being suspected of witchery. At the end of Scene One,

many community members are accused of consorting with the devil. These names

were given by all of the girls present that took part in the ritual in the

woods, in an attempt to return to the graces of God and to be declared

bewitched. This was a common reaction that many had when accused of witchery. It

led to confrontations which pitted neighbor versus neighbor and husband versus

wife. The delirium which created this situation aided in the misfortune

proceedings in Salem.

The evident destruction of Salem’s social order was due to rigid

stipulations on deviation, fear of the unknown, and mass confusion. These

conditions left Salem susceptible to an apparent epidemic such as witchcraft.

The susceptibility that Salem fell victim to, was the cause of a great tragedy

which saw twenty townspeople hung at the hands of the state. The Crucible

written by Arthur Miller is a story of a great catastrophe which highlights a ?

free man’s courageous and never-ending fight against mass pressures to make him

bow down in conformity?(intro.-x) and shows how hysteria can be used for evil

purposes in an atmosphere were there is a belief in freedom and right of dissent.



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