The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Condemnation of the Salemites

Essay by Kate1College, UndergraduateA+, December 1996

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The people of Salem can hardly be condemned for their actions during the witch hunts of 1692, as described in the play The Crucible, for they were merely products of their time. This is shown through an examination of the theocratic society in which they lived, the patriarchal snobbery they exhibited toward each other, their lack of medical technology and in depth knowledge of disease and of an analysis of the fear they displayed of the unknown. This is important as it shows that the Salemites were not entirely evil people, for they were only reacting to a situation in the only suitable manner they knew. Studying the actions of the Salemites during this period can ensure that history does not repeat itself, avoiding another Salem tragedy from occurring.

At the time of the witch hunts, the Salemite's society was an organized theocracy in which their Puritan church ruled.

It was instilled to ensure moral order and justice within Salem and 'to prevent any disunity that might open it to destruction by material or ideological enemies'(Miller 7). While espousing purity and godliness, the Puritans of Salem were a political group with leanings toward power and weakness. They were unable to keep these two characteristics in check at the time of the witch hunt. This resulted in the witch hunts becoming 'a perverse manifestation of the panic which set in among all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater individual freedom'(Miller 7). Their theocracy allowed for no expression of individuality, lest the individual, in short, ask for public condemnation. The theocracy of the Salem society at the time was an enormous factor to the conditions surrounding the witch hunts.

The Salemites exhibited patriarchal snobbery toward each others and those who were different. 'Their church found it necessary to...