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The Crucible - fear and suspicion

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In the Crucible, Arthur Miller shows us how fear and suspicion can
destroy a community.

As the play develops, Miller shows us how fear and suspicion increase
and destroy the community. Throughout the play it becomes apparent
that the community gets more and more divided as time goes on. In the
beginning there were arguments about ownership of land between some of
the villagers. As the story progresses people fear for their own
safety and begin accusing their neighbours of witchcraft in order to
escape being hanged.

Salem became overrun by the hysteria of witchcraft. Mere suspicion
itself was accepted as evidence. As a Satan-fearing community, they
could not think of denying the evidence, because to deny the existence
of evil was to deny the existence of goodness; which was God.

In the 17th century a group of Puritans migrated from England to
America - the land of dreams - to escape persecution for their
religious beliefs.

As Arthur Miller tells us in the introduction to Act 1 'no one can
really know what their lives were like.' We would never be able to
imagine a life with 'no novelists' and 'their creed forbade anything
resembling a theatre or vain entertainment.' 'They didn't celebrate
Christmas, and a holiday from work meant only that they must
concentrate even more upon prayer.' They led a very austere and bleak
life.

The people of Salem - from which the audience derive their "good" and
"evil" characters - were superstitious and highly religious, and their
Theocratic form of government offered them security and unity.
However, this strong religious background also offered the option to
use it misguidedly to promote the evil of false accusations. The
excessive and blind religious fanaticism...


... middle of paper ...


...n 1947 but a year later in 1958
his conviction was quashed by the Supreme Court.

The play is relevant to any society destroyed by fear, suspicion,
paranoia and accusation - other societies where something similar has
happened include East Germany under communism after World War 2,
Afghanistan under the Taliban and China under the Cultural Revolution
when the Red Guards would decry people for being bourgeois
reactionaries.

In conclusion I think that the ideas of fear and suspicion appear
throughout the play. Initially the suspicion starts on a small scale
but gradually develops and destroys the community. The fear of the
devil at the beginning extends and includes fear of others and
neighbours but when the court comes into action the community are also
afraid of the court. All the fears and suspicion mounts up and the
community is thrown into turmoil.

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