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Many years ago, the culture and atmosphere was amazingly different. The expectations of people and communities are extremely high. During the Puritan times, many laws and regulations existed pertaining to government, religion, and witchcraft. In the play, The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, the one word that best describes the Puritan beliefs and the community structure is strict.
The Puritan government during the time of this play is a theocracy—a government of God, run by the town’s minister. This means that the people cannot elect their own leaders. In The Crucible, the minister of the town is Reverend Samuel Parris. Mr. Herrick says to Danforth, “Mr. Parris command me, sir. I cannot deny him.” This shows that he, Mr. Parris, holds a definite authority over Mr. Herrick. In this theocracy, the people have to obey the minister and his appointed colleagues no matter what. The townspeople will be condemned by the government if they can not recite the Ten Commandments whenever they are asked to do so. The government of Salem basically was the Church.
From the church or the government there are many laws made pertaining to witchcraft. It is believed that if he or she is to dance, he is controlled by the devil. The subject of dancing is what gets the girls into trouble in the first place. The girls are seen by Parris dancing and conjuring evil spirits in the woods. “Witches” are what the girls are called by the people of the town. After they were caught, Parris goes upstairs to call Betty, his daughter, and Abagail, his niece, but Betty will not wake. This is when the
townspeople cry witch against her (Betty). Abagail says to her Uncle Parris, “The rumor of witchcraft is all about.” They think the devil has taken over the mind and soul of Betty and that is the reason she sleeps so soundly. The community that this play takes place in also believes that poppets—dolls—are a sign of the devil. These are just ordinary dolls with regular human characteristics, but the people believed that the bodies and especially the faces of these dolls were rude mockeries of the human structure. Witchcraft and demonic ideas or beliefs are not to even be thought of during these times; severe punishment is the wrath of such things.
Puritans must also attend the designated church services regularly. These are held on Sundays, from sun-up until sundown.
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