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Public Hysteria In Arthur Miller's The Crucible

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Public hysteria is a psychological phenomenon that affects a group of people, resulting in fear or irrational behavior. In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, many innocents were wrongfully accused, causing many to be hanged without trial. Miller uses this public hysteria and fear to create social divisions, and to change the Puritan societal structure. The Puritans were often associated with being spiritual, purified, as well as being “sophisticated”. These were popular held beliefs that impacted the daily routines of the Salem citizens. These beliefs, however, were threatened when one was accused of being a witch. In the play, we can see the impact this threat has upon characters such as Reverend Hale, John Proctor, and many others. It began…show more content…
However, when the Puritan church began to collapse, their power began to diminish. After Abigail was accused of being a witch, many Salem citizens began to fear that their life was in danger, and their God was no longer protecting them. As a result, many began to break away from the church and developed their own sense of faith based on their personal morals. Parris explains to John Proctor, a key figure who has his own sense of faith, “It is not the children who are unmindful of their obligations towards the ministry” (473). John Proctor defies the church by forgetting the adultery commandment, a major sin that is punishable by death. This causes tension between him and Judge Danforth who believes Proctor is guilty of adultery because of his affair with Abigail Williams. Danforth begins to conceive that Salem citizens can not only carry out sins and break away from the church, but from the government as well. This is perceived as a personal fear, but it’s the actions Danforth carries out that makes the fear spread among the community. He questions those who are convicted, and punishes them without a proper trial. Anyone can be accused, and many can be hanged because someone had accused them of going against Puritan standards. Danforth is willing to sacrifice the lives of the innocent to maintain power within the…show more content…
The term “crucible” refers to different elements interacting with one another, to create something new. Throughout the play, we can see each chain of events and how each character correlates to them. They created the community that focuses more on power than ideology. It symbolizes a message through an allegory that describes how something small, such as one’s own personal fear, can develop into something colossal. Every action matters and can change the outcome depending on how we perceive and respond to one’s actions. Modern-day America can relate to the characters in The Crucible due to the hysteria that is always forming. America as a nation responds differently to different terrorist groups opposed to terrorist attacks. In both instances, they threaten our way of life similarly to how the idea of witchcraft had threatened the religious aspect of a Puritan’s life. For a terrorist group, negative images and emotions are received since it gives America the lack of security notion. This is opposed to a terrorist attack that will give American constituents a sense of nationalism and will come together with a stronger bond than before. Perception is a key role in how fear is handled. With The Crucible, the fear was handled negatively so the Salem community faced negative results. Innocent people were
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