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In what important ways does Miller prepare us for the hysteria and the accusations of the witch-hunts in Act I of The Crucible?

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Introduction

English Coursework 6 Post-1900 Drama - Social/Historical/Cultural "In what important ways does Miller prepare us for the hysteria and the accusations of the witch-hunts in Act I of The Crucible?" In The Crucible, it was important for Miller to fully show that the witch-hunts in Salem were not some unforeseen, unpredictable chain of events, but the result of many different, precisely added elements. He, therefore, had to display to the inevitability of such events by revealing the true nature of the Salem's society: unstable and extremely volatile. This instability among the people of Salem, stems mainly from their own insecurities. Any person heard to make a statement that is vaguely accusative is counter-attacked with a provocative statement far exceeding that of the first. Such an incident occurs when Proctor identifies Putnam's support for the system of voting by acreage by saying Putnam "cannot command Mr Parris" because the society "votes by name...not by acreage." ...read more.

Middle

This is done by creating an external being that is responsible for a person's inner evil: the Devil. Mrs Putnam displays this when she uses extremely inflammatory language in attempting to resolve Betty and Ruth's mysterious sleep. She uses explicit imagery of the Devil and describes "death drivin' into them, forked and hoofed". This is an easily defensible point of view, because anyone who challenges it would be "trucking with the Devil" themselves and become open to attack. Mrs Putnam finds a vent for her anger at "seven dead in childbirth" with her provocative exclamations such as "it is surely the stroke of hell upon you" and "what person murdered my babies?". By asking that question, she is indirectly accusing anyone in the village. This shows a woman who is desperate to find an explanation for her misfortune and believes she will find it in the people of Salem who have been in contact with the Devil. ...read more.

Conclusion

If, as Mrs Putnam shows, the people of Salem cannot accept their own evils and they believe the "Devil" cannot possibly be within them, that which defines them as a "good" person must be that which is not the "Devil". Therefore, the "Devil" must, by nature of the society of Salem, be the thing which is diametrically opposed to the person of God and its location must be in a faction or group physically outside their house and spiritually outside their religion. Miller uses these groups to create a self-sustaining repression in Salem. As the people are forced by the factions to repress their feelings and emotions and keep them bottled up, their emotions are heightened by the constant arguments that take place. Act I is an introduction to the society and a period of time in which to show its many tensions. At the end of the act, the tension between all these emotions and the repression is released and Hale says himself that "it is broken, they are free." This shows us that the unstable and volatile society is, indeed, at breaking point. ...read more.

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