Ideas of Mass Hysteria in The Crucible

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About this sample


Words: 737 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

Words: 737|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Dec 16, 2021

 In “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller is based on the concept of mass hysteria, which essentially means that there is a spread of certain signs or symptoms among a large group of people from a change in society. As Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible there was a similar spread of hysteria in the United States, Communism's second terror, or the Second Red Scare. Arthur Miller expressed these emerging ideas of mass hysteria in The Crucible as it was at the time of the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts in 1692, and people, particularly in the novel, blamed others for their salvation and accused them of witchcraft. In the remaking of these events by Arthur Miller, some characters used scapegoating as a way of saving themselves from punishment, but characters such as Abigail Williams, Thomas Putnam, and Judge Hathorne created and pushed the Salem witchcraft even further by blaming others and sparking fear in the small town community and forcing them to be almost remotely responsible for Salem's events.

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Salem's Judge Hathorne, was another figure in the event that had a huge affect on the Witch Trials. Judge Hathorne, apart from Abigail, does not care about what happens to those that are convicted. He's very stubborn, and even refuses evidence, because he doesn't want people to prove themselves to be not guilty of what they are being accused of. He is responsible for most of the innocent people's hangings and had basically picked what would occur in Salem. In the text it states “Judge Hathorne enters. He is in his sixties, a bitter, remorseless Salem judge.” This shows how Judge Hathorne had no remorse for the people of Salem. All he cared about was his riches and his fortune. He was greedy enough to accuse others to obtain their belongings.

With other girls and a slave woman named Tituba, at the beginning of The Crucible Abigail Williams is in the forest. Abigail had asked Tituba to cast a spell on Goody Proctor, John Proctor's girlfriend, which was later discovered because John had a secret relationship going on with Abigail, Abigail wanted the wife of Proctor to die, and Tituba was the only person she knew that she could bribe to do that for her. Mainly because of her personal status as a slave. Once the uncle of Abigail, the small town's Reverend Samuel Parris finds out from the events Abigail begins her accusations. In the first act, realizing that she is guilty of dabbling in the forest with sorcery, Abigail says, 'whispering: not me, sir Tituba and Ruth,' and in the same scene Abigail is seen talking to the rest of the girls saying, 'Now look at you. All of you. We danced. And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam’s dead sisters. And that is all”. Abigail convinces the girls to lie, and so the first arrest is made on Tituba, and she will be the first to be executed, creating a ripple effect of suspicion through the town and beginning Abigail's eventual devastation of the town.

Nevertheless, not only Abigail Williams was blamed for the Salem events, Thomas Putnam and the Putnam family were also a major cause of the events occuring in Salem. In the beginning, Thomas Putnam was a well-known man in the town of Salem and was thirsty for land In the opening of the play he is portrayed as a man who badly wants land. He is also portrayed to be thirsty for power. As scapegoating started in Salem, he had the notion that if people were convicted and hanged their land would be sold and he would be able to profit from the suffering of other people. In act one it states “A word about Thomas Putnam. He was a man with many grievances, at least one of which appears justified.’’ Putnam was a greedy man and it was proven that he would do anything he had to do to obtain more and more riches even if that meant to falsely accuse others of crimes they hadn't committed.

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In conclusion, The Salem Witch trials was a very disturbing event that occured and many individuals and many families were deeply affected by it. These are three out of many other characters that had a huge impact on this event. Whether it's for more money, helping someone else, or even accusing people who weren't guilty in hopes of calming the city, there were big people who could be held accountable. 

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Ideas Of Mass Hysteria In The Crucible. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from
“Ideas Of Mass Hysteria In The Crucible.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
Ideas Of Mass Hysteria In The Crucible. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Feb. 2024].
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