Fear’s Motivation

Satisfactory Essays
Aristotle once said, “Men are swayed more by fear than by reverence.” It’s generally known that fear is quite a motivator in any given situation. This is apparent in many real life situations such as the Red Scare or the Salem Witch Trials of 1962. Arthur Miller was a playwright victimized by McCarthyism in the Second Red Scare who related his experience to the Salem Witch trials. He was oppressed because he had Communist sympathies. In the midst of this oppression, he looked into the Salem Witch Trials and saw similarities to the Red Scare. In The Crucible, Arthur Miller shows his belief that humanity is driven by fear and self-preservation, often resulting in people abandoning their morals.

One of the driving fears that comes up quite often in The Crucible is the fear of a bad reputation. People fear others thinking badly of them and will often act to avoid being viewed as ‘different’ or badly by others, regardless of their morals. One example of this is Reverend Parris when he’s talking to Abigail after Betty falls ill: “But if you trafficked with spirits in the forest I must know it now, for surely my enemies will, and they will ruin me with it” (10). Parris saw the girls attempting witchcraft in the woods, yet as the play moves forward, he doesn’t say anything about it for fear of his enemies ruining him and taking away his reputation as a minister. If he had admitted to his household being involved in the first place, far fewer people would have died. He knew this, yet he continued to hide the truth to protect himself. It also comes up when Reverend Hale is speaking with John Proctor about the trials. Proctor asks Hale if he’s considered that the reason so many are confessing to witchcraft may be because they will hang if t...

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...n quite often in places such as Ghana. Often the belief in witchcraft is deeply rooted in the society, and it is believed that the witches curse and kill people solely for entertainment purposes. This causes fear of being cursed or killed by a witch, and eventually leads to trials without any proper evidence as well as people torturing or killing the accused. The fears of witchcraft cause these people to abandon their morals and straight up kill or seriously damage someone who has the slightest possibility of being a threat to them. People will do just about anything to keep their fears from becoming realities and to save themselves. Maybe it’s just natural instinct – “survival of the fittest.” Or maybe it’s something darker, something that makes us willing to hurt others over a petty fear. The human mind is full of complexities, and Arthur Miller relates it simply.
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