Crucible Essay

Submitted By ktate01
Words: 726
Pages: 3

Kenneth Tate
Mrs. Jackson
Lit Comp 3
The Destructive Force of Fear and Hysteria

Throughout the story of “The Crucible”, people were driven to do things out of fear of the unknown; and with fear, followed mass hysteria in the year of 1692. The Protestants saw America as a religious refuge, and established a set of laws and regulations according to the beliefs they had when they got to America. One of the big problems they were confronted with was the “presence” of witches, and the overall idea of witchcraft. Subjects concerning these matters were handled seriously and acutely. But when things seemed to get out of hand, the hysteria of the problem ended up tearing the community of Salem apart, and ripping the lives of innocents away from their loved ones. Because the community of Salem was so clustered, sin and the status of an individual’s soul are matters of public concern. Everyone knew everyone personally for the most part, so for a person to be accused of witchcraft was a big deal; a person’s reputation could be shattered with such an accusation. People were falsely accused all the time, but some people were so blinded by their religion, and so scared, that they became oblivious to logic. This is shown in Act II as Elizabeth brands Abigail as the “ringleader” of all this hysteria, "folks are brought before them, and if they scream and howl and fall to the floor--the person's clapped in the jail for bewitchin' them." The people of Salem reached out to one another in hopes of some type of unity. As Danforth says in Act III, “a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it.” But these words did nothing but enrage the falsely accused and segregate society further. Hysteria enables people to believe that their neighbors, whom they have always considered upstanding people, are communing with the devil. And the “evidence” they would use against the condemned, was nothing concrete. They failed to see between the lines, because they were fearful: scared that they didn’t have control over the increasing witch accusations, scared that they weren’t sure who they could trust, and scared of losing their sanity. People get caught up in the crowd and behave in ways they wouldn't normally. When Mary couldn’t faint in Act III when she's alone, she describes the hysteria as: "I heard the other girls screaming, and you, Your Honor, you seemed to believe them, and I--It were only sport in the beginning, sir, but then the whole world cried spirits, spirits, and I --I promise you, Mr. Danforth I only thought I saw them but I did not." People were especially terrified of their reputation and name being tarnished. A lot of characters would react certain ways in