How Does Arthur Miller Present Mass Hysteria In The Crucible

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Through their reactions to the witch trials, characters in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible portray two major themes of self-preservation and mass hysteria. The play is set in Puritan Society in the late 1600’s in Salem, where most people are devout Christians and hold a strong belief of both God and the Devil. Through Abigail’s and Tituba’s actions of self-protection at the expense of others, Miller reveals the dangers of mass hysteria and its motivation towards self-preservation and false accusations. Abigail essentially begins the hysteria in Salem when she verifies the false suspicions of witchcraft, she then tells Reverend Hale that Tituba made her drink blood in order to draw the attention away from herself. Abigail points her finger at …show more content…

Just before Reverend Hale gets Tituba to confess to witchcraft, she says, “Oh, God, protect Tituba”(49)! Salem’s strict religious beliefs are displayed when Tituba prays to God to help protect her. The hysteria has gotten to Hale as well, which makes him interrogate Tituba until she confesses. It also motivates Tituba to admit to conspiring with the Devil. Tituba knows that the punishment for a slave who participates in witchcraft would be very harsh, so when she confesses she gives accuses some people in town hoping to escape from punishment. The hysteria and fear takes over Tituba’s body during Hale’s interrogation, causing her to belt out, “He say mister Parris must be kill!... I tell him no! I don’t hate that man! I don’t want kill that man, You work for me, Tituba, and I make you free! I give you pretty dress to wear!.. And I say, You lie, Devil, you lie!.. and I look- and there was Goody Good”(49-50). Tituba no longer has control over herself and the insane things happening around her cause her to say things like that the Devil tells her, “I give you pretty dress to wear”. She then provides names of four people her hysteria- controlled body believes to have seen with the devil. Tituba’s reaction is a great example of how dangerous hysteria can be and how it can ruin people’s lives in a …show more content…

After learning Rebecca Nurse has been put in jail, Reverend Hale pleads to Francis, “I have seen too many frightful proofs in court- the Devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing finger points” (75)! Salem has become a dangerous place full of corruption and dishonesty. Many people used the power of false accusations for personal gain and for their own self protection. After much time passes, no one in Salem, not even the honorable judge, has begun to realize there is no Devil wandering in town. This shows the lasting effect that hysteria can create. Proctor tells Reverend Hale, “I'll tell you what's walking Salem—vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law! This warrant's vengeance! I'll not give my wife to vengeance”(81)! He says this after learning that a few accused people are innocent. He is one of the first people to escape the wrath of hysteria in Salem and to begin to see the truth. Proctor sees that most people are using false accusations to seek revenge and it is a menace to

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