The Crucible

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The Crucible

The deterioration of Salem’s social structure precipitated the murders of many  innocent people. Arthur Miller’s depiction of the Salem witch trials, The Crucible, deals  with a community that starts out looking like it is tightly knit and church loving. It turns  out that once Tituba starts pointing her finger at the witches, the community starts  pointing their fingers at each other. Hysteria and hidden agendas break down the social  structure and then everyone must protect themselves from the people that they thought  were their friends. The church, legal system and the togetherness of the community died  so that children could protect their families’ social status. Being isolated from any other group of people with different beliefs created a  church led Puritan society that was not able to accept a lot of change. The church was  against the devil, at the same time it was against such things as dancing and other  premature acts. The reputation of the family was very important to the members of the  community. When the girls were caught dancing in the woods, they lied to protect not just  themselves but the reputation of their families. They claimed that the devil took them over  and influenced them to dance. The girls also said that they saw members of the town  standing with the devil. A community living in a puritan society like Salem could easily go  into a chaotic state and have a difficult time dealing with what they consider to be the  largest form of evil. Salem’s hysteria made the community lose faith in the spiritual beliefs that they  were trying to strictly enforce. The church lost many of its parishioners because the  interest of the town was now on Abigail because people wanted to know who was going  to be named next. When the church was trying to excommunicate John Proctor, there  were not enough people at church to do it. The people were getting misled so far as to  leave a dagger stuck in the door of their minister’s house: “Tonight, when I open my door  to leave my house--a dagger clattered to the ground...There is danger for me.”(128) were  Parris’ exact words. With the conveyer of God fearing for his life there was no longer  anyone but Abigail to lead the community. The justice system is designed to protect the people that it serves but during the  trials the accused witch had two choices, death or imprisonment. The punishment of death  was given to all people that pleaded not guilty; the other punishment was to plead guilty  and go to jail. John Proctor gave his view of the justice system when he said “I like not the  smell of this ‘authority’ ”(29). “And do you know that near to four hundred are in the jails  from Marblehead to Lynn, and upon my signature?”(85) said Danforth, describing the  number of people that were in jail on charges of witchcraft. There were so many people  executed that Hale commented “there are orphans wandering from house to house;  abandoned cattle bellow on the highroads, the stink of rotting crops hangs  everywhere...”(130) Salem was turning into a ghost town. With Abigail controlling the  community, the church no longer getting the whole town to prayer, and an unjust legal  system, it is natural that the people were in a state of total chaos. The unexplained was caused by the devil, so some members of Salem used the  unexplained to their advantage. Mrs. Putnam told the truth when she said, “There are  wheels within wheels in this village, and fires within fires!”(26)  Mrs. Putnam did her share  of spreading rumors after she heard that the girls were flying, so she asked Parris “How  high did she (Abigail) fly, how high?”(11). These rumors happened because people did not  want any blame put on to themselves. This ‘passing the buck’ made people start fighting  with one another such as Corey charging Putnam of having his daughter accuse a resident  of witchcraft in order to get Corey’s land. Abigail used her power of getting people to  listen to her to her advantage when she charged Proctor’s spouse with being a witch so  Abigail could live with John. This again proves that Abigail

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