Hysteria And Paranoia In Arthur Miller's The Crucible

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Hysteria. Misunderstanding. Paranoia. Puritan colonists living in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 felt these emotions, especially during the Salem witch trials. In the play The Crucible, hysteria and paranoia are two clear character feelings. Each person embodies the characteristics, whether it be for personal reasons or for the fear of the witch hunt. Abigail Williams and John Proctor represent hysteria and paranoia having to deal with personal conflicts and issues with the witch hunt. In Puritan society in 1692, religion was a very big factor in how people behaved. They went to church, didn’t work on Sundays, and had respect for others. On the surface, the characters in the play seemed to have the characteristics of that of a good civilian …show more content…
After his affair with Abigail, he tried not to let the secret out into town. He didn’t want the gossip and ruining of his name that would come if anyone found out about his affair. Proctor was very paranoid about his reputation and would do anything to keep his name in good graces. Not only this, but, unlike other Puritan civilians, Proctor didn’t go to church every day. When confronted about it, John became defensive and played it off as though it was Reverend Parris’s fault he didn’t go to church. “...when I look to heaven and see my money glaring at his elbows-it hurt my prayer sir, it hurt my prayer. I think, sometimes, the man dreams cathedrals, not clapboard meetin’ houses” (62). John knew that if he didn’t defend himself, then the townspeople would start accusing him of witchcraft. Proctor didn’t want them to think that, knowing it would also blacken his name in society. Along with not wanting to be accused of witchcraft, Proctor did not want anyone to find out about his and Abigail’s affair. At first, John was adamant about no one finding out, shutting down Abby everytime she would bring up the adultery. “Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut off my hand before I’ll ever reach for you again. Wipe it out of mind. We never touched, Abby” (22). However, when the trials begin and John’s wife is charged, he knows he will have to take chances. This included giving away the …show more content…
Miller’s underlying message is that the fear of the unknown can make people turn on people they thought they knew and trusted the most. He strategically sets up his characters and settings to help send the message further. This message is evident many times throughout the play, additionally once people are being named for witchcraft. The message is first apparent in the first act of the play, when Tituba and Abigail are being challenged about what occurred in the forest one night. Tituba and Abigail began to name off people they had known and lived with for so long, just so they would not get in trouble. After a bit of this, Betty Parris joined in. “...I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!” (45). By naming off townspeople they had known for years and saying they saw them with the Devil, it saved Abigail, Tituba and Betty from getting in considerable trouble. The most prominent example of this is when Abigail becomes hysteric in court, and accuses Mary Warren for her actions. Abigail and Mary Warren are very good friends, and it was a shock when Abby turned on Mary and accused her of witchcraft. “To the ceiling, in a genuine conversation with the ‘bird’, as though trying to talk it out of attacking her: But God made my face; you cannot want to tear my face. Envy is a deadly sin, Mary”

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