The Way To Death
There are many different reasons why people do the things that they do in life. The choices people make always have a reason or reasons behind them. In the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller human failings were the cause of the witchcraft trials that took place in Salem in 1692. The human failing’s vengeance, jealousy, fear, hysteria, greed and ambition played major roles in the unjust execution of many innocent Salem citizens. There was a storm of false accusations for personal gain against friends and family that ended with the deaths of good people for being “evil” while the real evil people were left alive and looked at to be heroic.
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Together, the human failings jealousy and vengeance began the brutal witch-hunt. Abigail, along with her friends took the liberty of naming the first false witch, Tichiba, after being caught performing a ceremony in the woods to kill Elizabeth Proctor. Abigail and John Proctor had an affair together until John Proctor realized how wrong it was which left Abigail alone and pining for her old lover. “You did, you did! You drank a charm to kill John Proctors wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor!” (Miller 25). Abigail, afraid of the consequences of her actions, decided it would be better for her and her friends if they blamed Tichiba, their servant from Barbados, for forcing them to partake in witchcraft when really Abigail wanted to perform a ceremony to kill the wife of her love and asked Tichiba to teach them songs for the ceremony. Another person who acted upon jealousy and vengeance was Mrs. Putnam against the midwife Rebecca Nurse who had a flourishing family while all but one of Mrs. Putnam’s children had died.
MRS. PUTNAM, with a growing edge of sarcasm: But I must! You think it God’s work you should never lose a child, not a grandchild either, and I bury all but one? There are wheels within wheels in this village, and fires within fires! (Miller 34)
Rebecca Nurse did nothing to Mrs. Putnam’s children; Mrs. Putnam was just envious that her family dwindled while Rebecca’s flourished.
The Salem witch trials thrived on the fear and hysteria that plagued the town. The girls used pretense in the court room to trick people into believing that dark spirits were actually at work.
DANFORTH: What is it, child? But Abigail, pointing with fear, is now raising up her
Frightened eyes, her awed face, toward the ceiling – the girls are doing the same –
and now Hathorn, Hale, Putnam, Cheever, Herrick, and Danforth do the same. What’s
there? He lowers his eyes from the ceiling, and now he is frightened, there is real tension
in his voice. Child! She is transfixed – with all the girls, she is whimpering open mouthed,
agape at the ceiling. Girls! Why do you – ? (Miller 117)
Although there wasn’t anything on the ceiling, the girls put on such a show, acting truly frightened of the supposed dark force that was lurking, that they ended up making the towns’ people and even the judge’s fall for their ruse. The fear of witches that was already in the town made it so much easier for the girls little act to go over smoothly.
Even though most of the court did not know of the falseness of the show that the girls were putting on, Reverend Parris did, and his greed and ambition kept him from telling everyone that there was infact no witchcraft in their town. Parris caught his niece Abigail and her friends in the woods on the night that they were performing their ceremony to kill Goody Proctor, and he questioned Abigail about their actions. Although he knew the truth of what they were doing he decided that he could not have it known that his family was dabbling in unexpected behavior because it would cost him his position.
PARRIS: Now look you child, your punishment will come in time. But if you trafficked
with spirits in the forest I must know of it now, for surely my enemies will, and they will
ruin me with it. (Miller 16)
Because Parris coveted his position as reverend so much, he kept vital information to himself which let the witch-hunt spiral out of control when it could have been prevented.
All of the events that happened during that time were fueled by people with dark agendas. If it wasn’t for the human failings, it is possible that the Salem witch trials may not have even occurred which would have spared many innocent lives.