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How Hysteria Ruins The Town of Salem in The Crucible

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No one would think that one false rumor, caused by hysteria, would end up ruining an entire town. This happened to the town of Salem, in a book called The Crucible. Hysteria is an exaggerated emotion among a group of people. Hysteria caused the people of Salem to panic and accuse each other of witchcraft, even if it were false. Hysteria evolves at the beginning of the play where Reverend Parris catches Abigail, Betty, and Tituba dancing with their friends in a forest. Parris becomes suspicious very soon since Betty becomes sick quickly after this event. People start to think they were practicing witchcraft because no one knows why Betty will not wake up. People start to become suspicious, and their suspicion leads to hysteria. Eventually, when people are thrown in jail, they start admitting to witchcraft, even if they never associated with it. They do this to escape death, because it was near their future. In The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, hysteria ruins the town of Salem, proven by Abigail, Tituba, and Mary Warren.

In the Crucible, Abigail is the reason of panic throughout the society. She lies to the court and accuses innocent people of witchcraft. Witchcraft is punishable by death or imprisonment during the Puritan time period, so she is ruining innocent lives. She does not want to be questioned about her actions, so she blames others instead. One example in Act I occurred when Parris approaches her and Tituba. Abigail immediately starts blaming Tituba. She gets people to believe her when she says,“She sends her spirit on me in Church; she / makes me laugh at prayer”. Lying that Tituba controls her, makes people think that Tituba is a witch. Tituba is not a witch, but she is accused because Abigail persuades everyone that she is. She creates hysteria throughout society because of her lies. Another example of Abigail creating hysteria throughout society, happens in court when she acts like Mary Warren is controlling her. Mary Warren denies that she is, but Abigail is faking being controlled by Mary. Abigail says, “Oh, / Mary, this is a black art to change your shape. No, I / cannot, I cannot stop my mouth; it’s God’s work I do”. Acting out like this in court makes her peers think she is being controlled. This creates hysteria among her peers, because they all believe in her act. Abigail is lying to everyone, but they all believe the unreal things she says. Abigail is the main reasons hysteria spreads throughout Salem.

In The Crucible, Tituba, who goes along with Abigail, is involved in the creation of hysteria. Abigail gets the idea from her, to accuse innocent people of witchcraft. Tituba, once accused, goes along with the claim, and acts like she communicates to the Devil, however eventually she honestly believes she can talk to him. In Act 4, when she is in jail, she is talking to a man named Herrick. She offers to speak to the Devil for Herrick, which shows she thinks she can talk to the Devil. When someone can talk to the Devil, it means they are a witch during this time period. She says, “I’ll speak to him for you, if you desires to / come along, Marshal.” Asking Herrick if he wants her to talk to the Devil for him shows that she is not thinking straight and convinced she is a witch. During the same conversation, Tituba says, “Take me home, Devil! / Take me home!”. Talking to the Devil proves that Tituba is under the influence of hysteria. Tituba is affected by the hysteria Abigail has created.

In The Crucible, Mary Warren proves hysteria is among her and the society, while she is in court. In Act 3, when she is asked to prove that no spirits are motivating her, she is asked to faint. She is unable to do so because there are no spirits trying to encourage her. Mary thinks she is cursed because of the hysteria going through the town and Abigail making it look like she is under the Devil’s influence. This is proven when Mary is talking to Mr. Danforth. She says, “I — I heard the other girls screaming, and you, Your / Honor, you seemed to believe them, and I — It were / only sport in the beginning sir, but then the whole / world cried spirits, spirits, and I — I promise you, Mr. / Danforth, I only thought I saw them but I did not”. Admitting that she did not see them proves that all the spirits are made up. Mary Warren finally admits the truth, but since so many people believed the spirits existed, she was convinced they were inside her. Mary begins trying to blame the devil, which shows she has been manipulated into thinking the Devil is controlling her. She thinks the Devil is controlling her by saying, “He wake me every / night, his eyes were like coals and his fingers claw / my neck…”. Thinking the Devil is within her, shows that Mary has been convinced that she has talked to the Devil. She believes this because of the hysteria going through town.

In The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, hysteria ruins the town of Salem, proven by Abigail, Tituba, and Mary Warren. Hysteria has permanently damaged Salem, because it ruined the bond between the people. Hysteria will have a lasting impact on the town, and everyone believes the Devil is around and witchcraft is among the population. People start spreading rumors about people who are most likely not practicing witchcraft. The accused are sent to jail, and some of them killed. Hysteria ruined the town of Salem, because the families broke apart and neighbors turned against each other. 

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