How Does Fear and Hysteria Play a Significant Role in Creating and Driving the Conflict and the Chaotic Events That Take Place in Arthur Miller's 'the Crucible'?

1451 Words Aug 11th, 2012 6 Pages
How does fear and hysteria play a significant role in creating and driving the conflict and the chaotic events that take place in Arthur Miller’s ‘ The Crucible’?

Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil or pain, whether the threat is real or imagined.1 It causes feelings of dread and apprehension. Fear can lead to hysteria- a condition where community wide fear overwhelms logic and ends up justifying its own existence. In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, fear and hysteria are the foundation and antecedent behind the bedlam and conflicting events that take place in the community of Salem. It is the key factor that results in the degeneration of the community. It is fear and hysteria that incited the Salem Witch
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This is what happens when the young girls start to accuse people of witchcraft and “compacting with the Devil.”5 The words of the fourteen young girls were taken as the truth as nobody dared to question people who had seen the Devil himself.

The fourteen young girls use the village’s fear and manipulate and wield it to suit their needs and to get what they want. In those times, children were not respected or given any attention. They were the possessions of their parents. The girls use the villagers’ fear to get the attention and in doing so, they go from being just above slaves in the social hierarchy to “officials of the court.”6 The reason that the young girls are able to make accusations and have the ability to convict innocent people of witchcraft is because they prey on the fear of the villagers. The villagers are made vulnerable in their fear and because they become completely open to suggestion, mere suppositions actualize into their reality.

The hysteria supersedes rational thinking and logic and make neighbor turn on neighbor, accusing each other of absurd and unbelievable crime that included but certainly were not limited to compacting with the Devil and killing innocent babies. The girls’ behavior in the courtroom when they accuse the townspeople of witchcraft represents the psychological phenomenon of mass hysteria. The townsfolk become active in the chaotic situation created by fear not

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