The Crucible Hysteria Essay

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Hysteria As Demonstrated In The Crucible And 1950’s America

In 1950’s America the war on communism had reached a high point and anti-communist feelings were overwhelmingly common. In response to the anti-communist hysteria occurring around him, Arthur Miller, a well known playwright, wrote The Crucible to demonstrate the hysteria surrounding the American citizens and their government. By analyzing the usage of the causes of hysteria and individual rationalization of actions that are commonplace in The Crucible, a reader can see how hysteria starts in a society and what prevents and keeps hysteria from occurring. A common belief is that all evil is an individual evil; however, The Crucible demonstrates individual and systemic evils that cause
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Cognitive dissonance is a psychological term in which an individual holds 2 contradicting thoughts on the same subject. Judge Danforth is an excellent example of cognitive dissonance. A human preposition is the desire to be a good person and live a meaningful life; however, when people begin questioning the validity of the witch trials and hangings Judge Danforth develops a conflicting belief that he wrongly sent “seventy-two [to be] condemned to hang by that signature,” (1293). Rather than believing he has wrongly accused and killed seventy-two people he chooses to believe that there could be no possible way that the witchery and evidence could be false. Judge Danforth ignores the solid and true evidence that is provided to him by Mary Warren, John Proctor and Mr.Nurse in favor of Abigail and the girl’s untenable claims of witchery because he wants to believe he has done the right things. This is not only a common theme in The Crucible, but also in the war on communism. In many American propaganda posters the Soviet Union was depicted as a large red octopus trying to engulf the globe with its tentacles. Americans didn’t want to believe that they were killing good people because good people don’t kill other good people; so, cognitive dissonance took over. By refusing the idea that any member of the soviet union could be good and dehumanizing the soviets, America and it’s citizens and soldiers could continue to believe they were good people while finishing out the war. Miller uses the cognitive dissonance found in The Crucible to directly show how catastrophic the consequences could be if left

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