The Crucible Essay by Arthur Miller

Essay by travyHigh School, 11th grade April 2004

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Were the Salem witch trials in 1692 inevitable? After reading The Crucible, I believe that they were inevitable, due to the religious beliefs of the Puritans who lived there, the misfortunes they suffered, and the transgressions that they felt their neighbors had committed against them.

The Puritans were religious fanatics who had no enjoyment in their lives. They were forbidden to read novels, attend the theater, and could not dance or sing. No holidays, such as Christmas, were celebrated, and when the people were not working, they were only to be worshipping God. Their ancestors had been persecuted for their religious beliefs in England, so the people of Salem took the position that a tight rein on the residents would keep the devil out. Those people who didn't go to church often enough were brought before the magistrate for punishment. Children were seen and not heard, and they believed "sex, sin and the Devil were closely linked."

Indians in the neighboring forests did not convert to the Puritan lifestyle, so the inhabitants of Salem were told that the "virgin forests were the Devil's last preserve" and they were forbidden to venture there. They believed everyone not living in Salem were lowly beings, they were unclean, and they were practicing witchcraft, especially Indians and black slaves. The Puritans thought they were the only godly people and they were constantly on the lookout to protect themselves from the outside forces of witchcraft. Even the black slaves living in Salem were constantly under suspicion.

The witch hysteria started when Tituba, the black slave of Reverend Parris, took the Reverend's 10-year old daughter and several other girls to the forest and showed them her native dances and songs. The Reverend saw them, and when the girls knew they would be punished, many became...