Examples of Hysteria in the Crucible by Arthur Miller
- Date:May 22, 2023
- Category:The Crucible
- Topic:The Crucible Analysis
In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, hysteria plays an important role in driving the story forward. It is seen in almost every character and has far-reaching consequences. Examples of this include Abigail Williams accusing people of witchcraft to hide her own guilt; Reverend Parris’ fear that his authority is being taken away from him; and John Proctor sacrificing his reputation to save the other townspeople from being falsely accused by Abigail. Hysteria takes many forms in The Crucible, such as accusation, fear, and mob mentality.
Uncovering the Defining Characteristics of Hysteria in “The Crucible”
Fear is one of the main elements that drive hysteria in “The Crucible.” It is clear from early on in the play that fear has taken a hold of Salem’s citizens. People are afraid to speak out against their accusers because they fear that they will be accused as well. This is demonstrated when Mary Warren is sent back to Salem Court by Proctor and she believes that her accusers are accusing her of witchcraft. She says, “I—I am afraid I bring them down on me!” (Act 3). In this instance, we see how fear has taken over Mary Warren, leading her to believe that speaking out against her accusers will result in further persecution.
Paranoia is another defining characteristic of hysteria present within the play. Since everyone is so fearful of being falsely accused, it becomes easy for paranoia and mistrust to take hold. We see this with John Proctor when he says, “We cannot call this a Christian persons. They love not the name of Christ! I’ll tell you what’s walking Salem—vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!” (Act 4). Here, Proctor expresses how he believes that false accusations are taking over Salem, and the court is allowing it to happen. The paranoia of being wrongfully accused has taken ahold of Proctor’s thoughts and his words reflect this.
Finally, hysteria in “The Crucible” is also characterized by a need for control. Characters within the play all want to take control of their own destinies, and shift the blame away from themselves. We see this in Abigail Williams’ attempt to manipulate events in order to keep herself out of trouble and maintain her power over everyone else. She says, “Let you beware, Mr. Danforth. Think you to be so mighty that the power of Hell may not turn your wits?” (Act 3). Here, Abigail is attempting to shift the blame away from herself and onto Danforth in order to maintain control over her own destiny.
How Arthur Miller Explores Hysteria Through his Characters in “The Crucible”
In Arthur Miller’s play, “The Crucible”, the theme of hysteria is explored through his characters. Hysteria is defined as an exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement and is a central feature of the Salem witch trials which serve as the backdrop for this classic 1950’s drama. The main character in this play is John Proctor, a farmer who stands trial for the alleged crime of witchcraft. Miller uses Proctor to explore hysteria in that he is accused of witchcraft simply because his unique personality does not conform to the rigid standards set by the Puritan authorities in Salem. Proctor’s refusal to accept what other people say and do causes him to be labeled a criminal.
Miller also examines hysteria through the character of Rev. Hale, an expert on witchcraft who is brought in to help uncover any evidence of witches in Salem. Hale starts off believing that all those accused are actually guilty and his presence adds to the fear and paranoia present in Salem. However, as he begins to realize how many of the accused are innocent and that the trials are based on false evidence, he begins to question his role in the proceedings. His doubt is a symbol for how hysteria can cause people to believe what isn’t true, even when presented with facts to prove otherwise.
Finally, Miller uses Abigail Williams, one of the main accusers of witchcraft, to explore hysteria. Abigail is a young girl who has been scorned and rejected by Proctor and uses the witch trials as a way to get revenge on him. She manipulates and lies in order to achieve her goals, contributing significantly to the hysteria in Salem. Her actions are an example of how people can take advantage of a situation caused by hysteria in order to further their own personal interests.
By examining the different characters in “The Crucible”, Arthur Miller is able to explore the theme of hysteria and its effects on people’s lives. Through Proctor, Hale, and Abigail he demonstrates how false accusations can lead to paranoia and how hysteria can cause people to believe lies instead of truth. In the end, Miller is able to provide an insightful look at this timeless theme.
The Power of Hysteria: Exploring its Role in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”
In Arthur Miller’s play, “The Crucible,” hysteria plays a major role in the Salem Witch Trials. Hysteria is defined as an uncontrollable outburst of emotion or fear. This can be seen throughout the trials when accusations were made against those who were believed to be involved with witchcraft and devil-worship. Hysteria also played a role in how the accused were treated and judged by their peers, as mob mentality took over which resulted in false accusations, finger pointing, and mass hysteria.
The play demonstrates how quickly hysteria can take hold of a community and create an environment of paranoia. Miller uses this to illustrate how prejudice, superstitions, and fear can lead to catastrophic results. As hysteria spreads throughout Salem, the citizens become increasingly suspicious of anyone who is different or goes against the status quo. This leads to a cycle of false accusations, guilt by association, and mass paranoia. The power of hysteria causes people to act out of fear rather than reason. It eventually reaches a tipping point and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The power of hysteria is clear in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” This can be seen through the false accusations, finger pointing, and mob mentality that take hold throughout the play. Ultimately, it leads to tragic results as innocent people are accused without evidence and lives are destroyed as a result. By understanding the power of hysteria and its role in “The Crucible,” we can gain insight into how it has played a part in shaping our world today. Understanding this concept can help us to be more aware of our own biases and recognize the danger that lies in giving into fear rather than reason.