The Crucible Essay

1160 words - 5 pages

The CrucibleThe people of Salem can hardly be condemned for their actions duringthe witch hunts of 1692, as described in the play The Crucible, for they weremerely products of their time. This is shown through an examination of thetheocratic society in which they lived, the patriarchal snobbery theyexhibited toward each other, their lack of medical technology and in depthknowledge of disease and of an analysis of the fear they displayed of theunknown. This is important as it shows that the Salemites were not entirelyevil people, for they were only reacting to a situation in the only suitablemanner they knew.At the time of the witch hunts, the Salemite's society was an organizedtheocracy in which their Puritan church ruled. It was instilled to ensuremoral order and justice within Salem and 'to prevent any disunity that mightopen it to destruction by material or ideological enemies'. While espousingpurity and godliness, the Puritans of Salem were a political group withleanings toward power and weakness. They were unable to keep these twocharacteristics in check at the time of the witch hunt. This resulted in thewitch hunts becoming 'a perverse manifestation of the panic which set inamong all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater individualfreedom'. Their theocracy allowed for no expression of individuality, lest theindividual, in short, ask for public condemnation. The theocracy of theSalem society at the time was an enormous factor to the conditionssurrounding the witch hunts.The Salemites exhibited patriarchal snobbery toward each others andthose who were different. 'Their church found it necessary to deny any othersect its freedom, lest their New Jerusalem be defiled and corrupted by wrongways and deceitful ideas.'. As Puritans, felt they were superior to any othersect, including the Indians. They had attempted to convert the Indians, buthad failed miserably. Then, the girls were seen dancing in the forest, a placeregarded as 'the last place on earth not paying homage to God' as that waswhere the non-Christian Indians lived. The Salemites would have thoughtthe dancing girls to be evil not only because of the location they were caughtin, but also because they were not acting in the way any proper, upstandingSalemite and Puritan would act. Therefore, they must be possessed by theDevil. No other religious groups were present at the time to oppose them, orto teach them religious and social tolerance as seen in society today.The medical technology and knowledge of disease possessed by theSalemites was scarce in comparison to that which is known today. If anillness could not be cured, or at least identified, it was consideredsupernatural and the workings of Satan. At the beginning of Act I, SusannaWalcott says, '[Doctor Griggs] bid me come and tell you, reverend sir, thathe cannot discover no medicine for it in his books . . . he have been searchin'his books since he left you, sir. But he bid me tell you, that you might lookto...

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