Examples Of Scapegoat In The Crucible

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In biblical context, a scapegoat is defined as “a goat sent into the wilderness after the Jewish chief priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people upon it”. In modern vernacular, the term ‘scapegoat’ is used to describe a person who is made to bear the weight of other people’s wrongdoings. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, and Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, both ordinary townspeople and high level authority figures deflect their own sins onto a seemingly more obvious perpetrator. People exploit the wrongdoings of others to excuse their own sinful actions, leading to the exposure of weaknesses within the society as a whole. In Puritanism, adultery is a very obvious sin, and the reason for Hester Prynne’s societal …show more content…
In The Crucible, the citizens of Salem readily accuse their neighbors of carrying out witchcraft in order to remove themselves from the eye of public scrutiny. Abigail Williams, niece of the Reverend Parris, has her mind set on destroying Elizabeth Proctor, whose husband Abigail had an affair with, by attempting to use witchcraft. Abigail drinks a potion which she believes will kill Elizabeth, but when she is caught and accused of witchcraft, she points a finger at Reverend Parris’ slave Tituba, saying “She made me do it… She comes to me while I sleep; she’s always making me dream corruptions!” (Miller 43-44). Abigail preys on Tituba’s low social status and vulnerability to avoid being punished for her misdeeds. The mass hysteria of witchcraft quickly spirals out of control, as “social disorder at any age breeds such mystical suspicions, as when, in Salem, wonders are brought forth from below the social surface, it is too much to expect people to hold back very long from laying on the victims with all the force of their frustrations” (Miller 6). Salem citizens often had ulterior motives for branding their fellow citizens with the word ‘witch’, and people became willing to sell out anyone if it guaranteed their reputation would remained unscathed. Under the guise of witchcraft, Salem residents were able to escape the guilt of their own sins by