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What is it about the society of Salem that allows the girls' stories to be believable? How does Arthur Miller make this plausible and why would it strike a particular chord with his audience?

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Introduction

What is it about the society of Salem that allows the girls' stories to be believable? How does Arthur Miller make this plausible and why would it strike a particular chord with his audience? In the play of 'the crucible,' the restricted, rule-bound, Christian town of Salem was put under siege by the courts, who were trying people who were suspected of witchcraft, and then hanging them if they didn't admit to it. Abigail William's was caught dancing in the woods, along with the reverend's daughter. She lied, and said that she was being controlled by the devil, and that was the reason for the suspicious dealings in the woods. She accused many people of dealing with the devil, who in turn accused others, to get themselves excused. Only a few people stood up to the courts and said they had no dealings with witchcraft, and they were each hung. After the hangings had taken place, it was discovered that the girls had been lying, and the innocent people had been hung for no feasible reason. At the time when Arthur Miller wrote 'the Crucible,' there were current affairs which would have reflected the play. ...read more.

Middle

There were many personal rifts in the town of Salem. Thomas Putnam was averse to anyone who owned land, because he wanted to expand his, and was often arguing or taking people to court over this reason. Abigail and Elizabeth were enemies because of their shared love for John Proctor. Giles Corey seemed to have a problem with anyone who believed in the operations, because he was one of the only people in the village who could see and believed what a sham the witch hunts really were. Mrs Putnam hated Goody Nurse because she seemed unable to keep a child, whereas Goody Nurse had a very large family, which Mrs Putnam resented her deeply for. All these disputes inside the community showed that it wasn't as strong as some liked to make out, leaving room for dispute and accusations, without an uprising, because the community wasn't close enough to rebel against the authority of Danforth and Hathorne's period of influence. When Parris was so quick to shun the blame onto the devil, he was using a perfect example of the characteristics shown by the weak or scared people of Salem. ...read more.

Conclusion

People were using the hunts as opportunities to extort revenge on their enemies, where they wouldn't have been able to before. They were naming them, and then reaping the benefits. Abigail and the girls used the witch excuse as (they thought to begin with) an easy way out of their dancing misdemeanour, but it soon developed into mad slaughter. Parris used the witch hunts as a way of showing his authority, and getting the attention away from the fact that his daughter and niece were caught dancing. Also, the image of children has always been that they are innocent, so the townspeople would have seen the girls tales' as truth, because they are above suspicion. People confessed to seeing the devil, too. The audience knows that they only admitted to these ridiculous happenings to get themselves excused, but with people refusing to admit to it, people would have wondered why they would lie if it wasn't true, especially in such a restrictive Christian village. Whenever someone spoke up and said they thought the idea of witches was ridiculous (John Proctor, Giles Corey etc) they were accused. People saw this, and didn't want to follow in the footsteps of them. It was a case of mass hysteria, almost a chain reaction due to people reacting to each other's panic. ...read more.

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