Witch Hunting 101, Creating Mass Hysteria In The Crucible

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Witch Hunting 101, Creating Mass Hysteria It is a settlement in Massachusetts, the town of Salem is settled by Puritans, who came from Europe to escape persecution from the Protestant Church of England, and financial opportunity. Based on the ideas of John Calvin, Puritans have strict beliefs that forces people to live in a certain way to lead a pathway into Heaven. In the 1690s, the little prosperous town of Salem came under fire when several people were first accused of witchcraft. The event caused mass hysteria among the people of Salem and other nearby towns. Many went to trial, many confessed and others were charged and sentenced to death. As a result, the term of ‘witch hunting’ is used whenever there is tension and paranoia within …show more content…
Mass hysteria is created from abusing one’s power to instill fear and paranoia among civilians. Senator Joseph McCarthy used bully tactics against his opponents and put fear into the people. Because he had many supporters, McCarthy became the most powerful Senator. In The Crucible, there were several antagonists who are like McCarthy: manipulative, fearful, and aggressive. Instead of being honest and come clean, they find scapegoats to put the blame on. Abigail, for instance, is portrayed as the biggest villain or antagonist in the play. She was a “confessed witch who became a hostile witness” (5). Initially, she blamed her witchcraft on Tituba, the slave from Barbados. Tituba confessed to the witch crimes, but then she blames the others for the witchcraft. When Abigail heard about the Tituba free under a false confession, Abigail begins to do the same. Since Abigail is also having an affair with John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor is Abigail’s biggest target. Miller most likely used Abigail Hobbs as an analogy to Joseph McCarthy. She was the most evil character in Miller’s play, accusing Elizabeth of stabbing Abigail in the stomach. Eventually, Elizabeth was brought into court and John Proctor ends up being the one that was charged in the court “marshal! Take him and Corey with him to the jail” (91). Without realizing the consequences, Abigail lost her so-called ‘lover’ and is never mentioned again throughout the rest of the play. Like Abigail, Senator Joseph McCarthy loses power after challenging the US Army. He loses support from his colleagues and all civilians no longer fear him. He spirals into alcoholism and depression while being Senator until his death in 1957. The playwright constantly uses the theme of mass hysteria throughout the play. Mass hysteria is created from abusing powers to make oneself feared rather than

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