Examples Of Paranoia In The Crucible

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Pages: 5

Rather than being stuck between a rock and a hard place, the characters in the Crucible are stuck between dishonor or a noose. Back in the 1692 Salem witch trials, if a Puritan were accused of witchcraft, they could have either confessed to a false crime, saving their life but losing their integrity, or plead innocent and be hanged anyway. In The Crucible, Arthur Miller not only portrays mankind’s intrinsic selfishness and paranoia through various characters such as the Putnams, Abigail, and John Proctor, but also draws parallels between the 1692 Salem witch trials and the 1950s Red Scare.
As side characters, the Putnams are hungry for power and land. Miller notes that the Putnams had a 2 day land battle against the Nurse faction and were
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A few months prior to the story, John Proctor cheated on his wife Elizabeth with Abigail who works in his house. Abigail revealed her motivation in the Appendix: “Oh, John, I will make you such a good wife when the world is white again!” thinking that if she had Elizabeth hanged, she could marry John (150). Not only did she accuse Elizabeth of witchcraft to further her romantic goals, but she also accused innocent townspeople whom she had a grudge against or whom could be scapegoated like Tituba. Anyone could be next, from the hated Sarah Good to the well-respected Rebecca Nurse. She also threatens her minions, the other girls like Mary Warren, that if they confess about her fake spectral evidence, she will slit the throats, taking the whole ship down with her. Manipulating Puritan society’s fear of the Devil, she could easily rise to the status of a saint and have her word be taken as truth. At that point when John accused Abigail of fraud in Court, Abigail was unstoppable and all John could have done was wait for the hysteria to eventually cool. By Act IV when attitudes about hanging alleged witches shifted from rejoice to rebellion, Abigail and her friend Mercy steal Parris’s precious money and board a ship out of Salem, leaving the mess she made behind. as long as she gains power and steps closer to winning John. Abigail’s 1950s counterpart is Senator Joseph McCarthy who claimed to have a list of 200 communists hiding in the government. Harnessing the hysteria, people like Abigail and McCarthy rise to power, using it to discredit and shun anyone who opposed them. Abigail’s selfishness allows her to masterfully exploit the Puritan religious fervor and distrust to her sole advantage, unconcerned about who is hurt in the wake of her