Salem Witchcraft Trials in 1962
The Witchcraft trials in 1692, which infested the small town of Salem Massachusetts, can most definitely be placed among the most absurd events in the history of the United States. Though Witchcraft was never proved to be the cause of this mysterious chain of events, one can wonder whether if in fact the Devil was present in this vile scheme. Arthur Miller recounts this horrid tale in his powerful drama, The Crucible, in which a simple hoax inspired by a few girls is augmented exponentially by the sins that lurk within the souls of each individual. With almost every citizen focused either on their own salvation or insistent upon the corruption of another, even the greatest authorities are fooled, and the fabrication is allowed to escalate into an endless chain of accusations and denials. Before the truth is finally brought to light, twenty citizens are executed in a futile attempt to reveal a Devil’s associate who never existed. Though it may seem like an insignificant part of the population, this was twenty more than the number of lives that should have been traded for this apparent lesson in human ignorance. If anyone were to have been accused of associating with the Devil, it should have been the entire town, for following the path of sins, the path to Hell. This path has always been associated with the seven deadly sins. Among which, or at least variations of, are Ambition, Greed, and Vengeance, all of which were essential components in bringing about this purposeless tragedy.
Ambition, an excessive desire for success of power, drove certain characters in the play to carry out their actions, each with its own effect on the final outcome of the trials. However, each character’s ambition held a different form, as some characters constantly desired an expansion of power or wealth while others only wished to sustain their reputation. Though different, both forms can do little to redress a situation, and usually
produce negative effects that can send a degrading situation further downhill. The Deputy Governor of the town, Danforth, is a man of immense power and authority. Few people dare to oppose him, and he is usually on the correct end of a debate. And even when his opinion is contradicted by several townsfolk who happen to know the truth, he feels his judgement is correct and his authority should not be questioned. Despite the importance of the situation, he simply rejects any suggestions and requests could delay or abolish his decisions. The beginning of Act Four shows that he would rather add to a profitless death toll than to admit his mistake. In the examples of Giles Corey and John Proctor, these men feel that the names and reputations of themselves and others hold more importance than even their lives. When pressed and questioned about his involvement in the witchcraft incident, Giles decides to answer neither aye nor nay in order to protect his own name and his children....