Hysteria In The Crucible

Topics: Books

This essay sample on Hysteria In The Crucible provides all necessary basic info on this matter, including the most common “for and against” arguments. Below are the introduction, body and conclusion parts of this essay.

The play opened in 1953 written by Arthur Miller based on the real life circumstances happening in those times in America. The Crucible is a study in the mass hysteria that led to the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials. Salem in 1692 is a small town. As you read the script you feel as though it is a very close community.

Everyone knows each other, and the girls all play together and their parents know each other and so on. However you feel as though the majority of them don’t share friendship. Either one of them is wealthier than the other or they’re just jealous for various reasons.

For the assignment I have chosen two scenes to analyse, one of them being, the opening scene and the other being act two (the arrests).

I have chosen these scenes because I feel that these were the scenes in which the hysteria, fear, and tension is at its highest. Firstly I will analyse the opening scene by explaining what happens, the main points and characters who are involved. Act 1; the Opening Scene One night in 1692, the minister of Salem village, Reverend Samuel Parris, finds his daughter Betty and niece Abigail dancing with their friends in the forest. His slave Tituba is also present supposedly, casting spells.

What Does Elizabeth Fear About Abigail

The play opens a few hours later with Betty lying on the bed and seemly unable to wake.

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Rumours of witchcraft are already spreading through the village. Mr Parris is terrified for the effect on his reputation. The introduction to various villagers show a community split by guilty secretes personal disagreements and arguments over land rights. Among them is John Procter, who has had an affair with Abigail, but now wants to have nothing to do with her. Rebecca Nurse arrives trying to calm things down, but after a the arrival of Reverend Hale, a noted witch hunter, Mr and Mrs Putnam arrive trying to exploit the situation for their own ends.

To save herself Abigail blames Tituba. Abigail tells John they were only playing in the forest. Mr Hale forces the terrified Tituba to confess that she made a pact with the Devil. She names two other witches. Suddenly Abigail sees the chance to escape punishment, so she joins in the accusations, supported by the now fully conscious Betty. The opening scene starts off with the atmosphere surrounded by fear. Reverend Parris is a very weak and self-centred person in the story many people despise him, for example John Procter and Mr Putnam.

However, Parris is respected in the village as a Reverend because the church was very important and influential in those days, and the beliefs in witchcraft well known. Laws were based from influence from the Bible, and the Church used them to control every aspect of people’s lives. If people in those times had other ways of believing in the Christian faith it would be considered offensive to religion. Like most people in the seventeenth century, people believed in witches. The thought of witchcraft existed long before the Christian time.

In the olden times magic was seen be part of religion however, the early Christians saw this as magic (witchcraft). During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thousands were put to death for witchcraft. When medicine and science were at such an early stage, disease and sudden death were believed to have been a result from a spell cast by a witch. Those thought of to be witches could either have been male or female, all different ages and social ranks however most of them were elderly women. Reverend Parris for example is fearful of his reputation being ruined due to the acts of his daughter and niece in the forest.

He doesn’t want his enemies to use the fact that his daughter, Betty, maybe a witch and lose position as a reverend. “My ministry at stake, my ministry and perhaps your cousin’s life. ” He explains this to Abigail, his niece, while talking about Betty. In these times especially, because of what they are suspected of, Abigail, Betty and Mary Warren are all really scared of what might happen to them… DEATH! The hysteria also begins when Betty is lying on the bed. All the adults have left the room leaving just Abigail and unconscious Betty. Then Mary Warren enters the room, really panicking.

“The whole country’s talkin witchcraft! They’ll be callin us witches, Abby! ” Shouts Mary. This shows to the audience how they are really feeling and the tension in the community about what happened that night and suddenly Betty wakes up running towards the window calling for her mother, then Abigail calls her back. Suddenly Betty accuses Abigail of lying, “You drank blood Abby you didn’t tell him that! … You drank a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife” Cries Betty This shows that Betty was pretending to be unconscious some of the times because she had heard the conversation Abigail was having with Reverend Parris.

It also shows if this is true, Abigail’s obsession and jealousy towards John Proctors wife. The remark about the Proctors prompts a violent response and Abigail slap’s Betty across the face. Abigail then forces them to stick to her side of the story and threatens them. “Let either of you breath a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. ” In the meantime Betty collapses back onto her bed. From this scene you can tell that something isn’t right about Abigail.

She has some sort of power over the other girls and is only looking out for herself. Abigail puts the blame onto Tituba and scares Betty and Mary Warren to stick to her version of the story that Tituba is accused of talking to the Devil. Tituba is a black slave from Barbados. During the time of the play, race and colour was an issue so accusing Tituba would most likely be believable. Most importantly people would want to believe this story rather than the truth as she is from a foreign country with beliefs that were different from the community.

She has a low social rank so there was nobody to argue her case, as it is in times of panic people find it easier to pick on those who are unable to defend themselves. Rumours and fear of witchcraft Abigail Williams is an orphan as are most of the Salem girls. Their child hood has been depressing and gloomy, which is meant to be the way for strict Puritan discipline. Although teenagers, they are treated and told and made to think that they are only a child. With this information they have no choice but to keep control of their developing sexuality.

They are made to work as an adult but are forbidden to act like or have freedom like them. However, to boys it was a different story and boys were able to be free and were able to do things and express their feelings, where as a girl was not. With all their mixed feelings and emotions that are trapped inside they decide to take it to the forest and take out their feeling from there. From this, I think that what happened in the forest was not witchcraft at all and was only a group of girls expressing their feelings as they couldn’t openly. So all they perhaps were actually doing was playing spiritual games in the forest.

Abigail is the most frightened because she is scared of getting found out. Even though the others are too you get the feeling that they want to tell the truth but Abigail is stopping them from doing this by threatening them because she is scared. Mrs Putnam who isn’t a good character decides to stir up trouble with her husband. She has one daughter Ruth who has been acting very strangely. She had in the past seven children who died soon after birth. She is suspicious of their deaths and has heard that Tituba can talk to the dead so she sends Ruth to ask what has happened to her children.

Miller again has created fear in Mrs Putnam that she may lose her only daughter and also created tension between the characters. Miller, by writing the forest scene with the girls is showing the unhappiness of the girls in Salem and their rebellion towards the society in which they live. He is also portraying the insecurities and ignorance of the adults who are ready to accept the girl’s accusations. The scene creates a lot of fear, tension and hysteria because all the girls want to tell the truth and escape punishment but Abigail wants to tell part of what happened and nothing else.

The girls all fear Abigail because of the things she says to them and forcefully using physical acts upon them. In Act 1 several different circumstances combine to make the situation (night in the forest) worse; Mr Hale is eager to try out his skills; Mrs Putnam has never stopped grieving for her dead babies, and uses the crisis to find a scapegoat. At the end of Act 1 the adults have given in to their fear that the Devil and his witches are trying to destroy Salem. The only two strong enough to disagree, John Procter and Rebecca have left the stage.

Also, we see Abigail whipping Betty into a state of hysteria as she begins a fight to save her own skin and later to destroy Elizabeth Proctor. To the audience a lot of storylines are happening and there are various perspectives to the story, which builds the hysteria, so much you think to yourself, could there really be evil forces? Did the girls talk to the Devil? Are any of them witches? So to the audience the fear and hysteria has such a big effect on the way the audience think and feel for various characters.

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Hysteria In The Crucible. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-7072-crucible-tension-fear-hysteria/

Hysteria In The Crucible
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