Herd Mentality In The Crucible

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Fear pervades our world. But why does humanity constantly live in fear of the unknown or the seemingly unconquerable? American playwright Arthur Miller avers that the human mind possess a “fatality forever awaiting the right conditions...an outbreak of distrust, alarm, suspicion and murder”. Miller refers to the horrific events of the Salem Witch trials of 1692, which his play The Crucible plumbs, but this quotation is equally applicable of the current Syrian refugee crisis. Both events awaken the fragility of humanity and the rapid onset of mass hysteria. Whether it be the supernatural threat of witches, or the imminent reality of global terrorism; the unknown is the root of all fear. Humanity lives in fear of disruption or departure from …show more content…
‘Herd mentality’ describes how people are influenced by the actions of the general community. In Salem, the accusation of witchcraft hits the community in wave, first affecting the outsiders and undefendable. Tituba is blamed for unexplainable occurrences of apparent witchcraft. Abigail screams that Tituba “made me do it”, and Tituba responds that she “don’t truck with no Devil” (Miller 43). However, she later is forced to confess to witchcraft and continues the accusations. To save herself, she falsely professes to Hale that “Goody Good” and “Goody Osburn” (Miller 47) work for the Devil. The roots of blind accusation are fear for one’s own life, and a fear of consequence and undeserved punishment. As Proctor faces a somewhat similar situation, forced to choose between perjury and true justice for the accused, his decision serves as a foil to Tituba’s action. Instead of “[selling his] friends” (Miller 143), he “tears the paper and crumples it, and… [weeps] in fury” (Miller 144). He is “no Sarah Good or Tituba” (142), he “will not [be used]” (Miller 143) as a pawn in the game of accusation and panic. Unified panic is also shared in the American mind responding to global terrorism. As tragedy sweeps the world, with attacks on Paris and the Middle East, fear spreads as well. For those who are uneducated in the reaching scope and complexities of such a crisis, the general population follows the mass,