Mary Beth Norton (2002) explains that new accusations of witchcraft would spread beyond Salem’s outcasts and onto more respected members of society. Typically witchcraft was viewed as a working- class crime, but soon two upstanding Salem church members, Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse, were accused. Rebecca Nurse was one of six women tried during the Court of Oyer and Terminer’s second sitting, from June 28th to July 2nd. Her trial proved to be particularly shocking. Nurse was convicted despite a petition of support from thirty-nine friends and neighbors, and active family efforts to discredit her accusers.
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.
Tituba is Reverend Parris’s slave from Barbados. Abigail accuses her in order to avoid her punishment; Tituba becomes the scapegoat. This is due to Tituba being different from everyone else. Abigail understands that Tituba is an easy target and takes advantage of the racism in the town; the town’s people will believe Abigail over Tituba solely based on the color of her skin.
Abigail and her friends are sitting right behind Mary, listening to every word. Mary visibly shaken, stutters throughout her testimony to Danforth. She admits that she falsely fainted during previous witch trials saying “it were only a sport in the beginning, sir, but then the whole word cried spirits, spirits, and I - I promise you, Mr. Danforth, I only thought I saw them but I did not” (Miller 107). Mary only imitated Abigail and her friends so that she could feel like she belonged for once, but now she is confessing to the court that the fainting was all an act.
The Causes of the Salem Witch Trials Much of modern America’s fear and infamous interest in witches has been derived most likely from the profound Salem Witch Trials. “The infamous Salem witch trials began during the spring of 1692, after a group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft,” stated History.com authors. However, many historians still deliberate how such events occurred in the first place. Based on several presented documents, some conclusions suggest that there was a prominent cause to the beginning of the Salem Witch Trials. All in all, the cause of the Salem Witch Trials was the attempt of Salem citizens to either defend or create family
Tituba, Reverend Parris's African American slave from Barbados, plays a major role in The Crucible, being one of the primary catalysts of the Salem Witch Trials. Tituba was the first person accused of witchery during the Salem Witch Trials by Abigail Williams, and the first person to, consequently, admit to witchcraft. Tituba, growing up in Barbados, never saw dancing and singing as a wild and satanic, as dancing was tied to her African roots. As she is transitioned to America, however, she had to conform to the Puritan lifestyle, in which one could not sing or dance. One night, at the girls of Salem, Massachusetts's requests, she decided to perform a ritual that would allow them a boyfriends, however, it quickly escalated into the event that would spill blood, reveal deep secrets of the time, and destroy the trust within the community in Salem.
In Salem, Massachusetts, Puritans were strong believers in the Bible. The Bible states, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” The Puritans beliefs led to them accusing 20 innocent people of being a witch, this resulted in their deaths in 1692. Even though the Puritans couldn’t see it at the time, their accusations were really based off jealousy, lies, and Salem being divided into two parts. One cause of the Salem witch trial hysteria was jealousy.
“Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you,” (Act I, 160). She was the first person in the play to accuse a person of seeing people summon spirits of the Devil. This caused a massive, wide-scale witch hunt to take place; families torn apart, mothers, fathers, and even children murdered for what was considered to be the greater good. Now, others began to accuse people of witchcraft and people who had been lifelong friends to each other now had no choice other than to point fingers at each other or be put to death. Widespread panic and unreasonable action was sweeping through everyone in Salem, all because of a little lie by
“I’ll tell you what is said here, sir. Andover has thrown the court, they say, and will have no part of witchcraft. There be a faction here feeding on that news, and I tell you true, sir, I fear there will be a riot” (79). Everyone in Salem is getting irked and bewildered with the witch trials. There is uncertainty within the court and the townspeople that riots will occur within Salem.
After continuous pressuring Mary Warren replies with ‘I cannot, they’ll turn on me— “showing us the mob has driven fear into people and how Marry is afraid to tell the truth in the case everyone will turn on her and blame her. Mary’s feeble attempt to recompense backfires, so when Abigail uses the poppet to blame it on Elizabeth, making Mary feel even worse thus she agrees to go with proctor to testify against Abigail in court. Later after agreeing to go to court to support Proctor Mary is asked who is at fault and in fear replies pointing to proctor “You’re the devil’s man!” (act three, page 119). This demonstrates how the fear of the mob and the overwhelming pressure from the Abigail makes her turn from the truth.
The girls of the Salem witch trials lie to the society as to not get in trouble. Abigail leads them all in their lies by telling Mercy, “...listen now;if they be questioning us, tell them we danced- I told him as much already... He knows Tituba conjured Ruth’s sisters to come out of the grave...” (Miller 174).
Yet, close to the end of the scene, Mary returns to lying to the court. She confesses that the slanderous accusations by the girls “were pretense” but after pressure from the court and girls, she becomes “utterly confounded,… [becomes] overwhelmed,”(3.3) and points to Procor, calling him “the Devil’s man!”(3.3) She becomes afraid and frightened by the feigning girls and the looming notion of the court’s punishment. She presumes that the court will not forgive her for her previous lies in the court and the sentence of death. If she had believed that the court would have forgave her actions, then her confident confession could have ended the devastating witch hunt.
During court, Mary said she heard “the other girls screaming” and that Danforth “seemed to believe them” so she followed suit (Miller 107). Abigail and her friends saw the court believing their act, so they continued with their theatrics. This same display of emotion from Proctor also works at convincing Danforth Abigail’s words are not to be trusted, and her accusations against his wife have no