The story takes off when several young girls including Reverend Parris’s daughter Betty, meet in the woods one early morning in Salem, Massachusetts. The girls were with Parris’ black slave Tituba. While on the woods, one of the girls, Abigail, requests that Tituba lead a voodoo for everybody to participate in.
The ritual required the girls to dance and celebrate the woods after calling on the names of the men whom they wanted to marry. The conflict arises when Betty suddenly falls ill. Betty becomes unconscious. Then the rumors on witchcraft suddenly fill the whole town. The rumors were that the girls performed a ritual for the devil when they were in the woods; thus, resulting to Betty’s demonic possession. This sets clamor all throughout the town.
In the hope that everything be given an answer, reverend Parris requests for Reverend Hale to examine Betty. The other girls were also interrogated. After a long interrogation, Abigail admits that they asked to Tituba to perform a demonic ritual. Tituba stood on her innocence but when nobody believed her, she admits. The other girls begin to admit to then suddenly, they start to name names of people whom they claim to have been seen with the devil. Innocent people around town were accused to be witches.
Chaos results from the innocent accusations and the quest for the truth sustains the plot.
- Main body
The author wrote the piece on the context of countless irrational allegation and suspicion resulting from an outburst of emotional fear of ostracism for the belief in society’s uncommon practices and dogma.
In this case, the uncommon practice and dogma which we are referring to is witchcraft. As seen in the film, FEAR provoked the PEOPLE and this LED to the IRRATIONAL ALLEGATION and SUSPICION which then led to CHAOS in the community. To support this thesis, the author used the “irrational allegation and suspicion” to liquefy the whole film and ends only when John Proctor is convicted to death.
The author’s arguments were not blatantly presented but his thesis directly points to an “unmentioned and undefined leadership” which forces the people to admit in order to free themselves from being punished. Unfortunately though, the outburst of fear could also lead to irrational allegation. It is said that this film was used by the author to indirectly attack Senator Joseph McCarthy for his anti-communism leadership (Douthat, Ross and Ward, Selena, 2008).
He initiated investigations among alleged communists who were then encouraged to admit and point other comrades as a means for escaping from punishment. In such context, I firmly believe in the author’s premises. A good leadership should be able to overview possibility on backfires of some enforced mandates (Burns, 2003). When some things are enforced too much, it creates fear and when fear is all over a person, this could lead to individual irrationality and later when affects the society, becomes a communal hysteria.
- General Conclusion
True enough, the author’s thesis was difficult to present but he managed to make it clear by using an element which would serve as the sustaining factor of the film. As mentioned above, this element that we are referring to is “the irrational allegation and suspicion.”
On the content, I think it is pretty obvious, albeit unmentioned, that it is directly directed towards something political. Betty, one of the girls who got caught dancing in the forest, was a daughter of a lay minister and lay ministers were considered highly respected political figures at that time. The choice of the character itself speaks of a political statement.
Personally, yes, the content is very political. And if we apply this to our current politics, perhaps we would all agree that “the situation on irrational allegation and suspicion” as a result of fear of ostracism, is not at all new to our society. This just proves that good leadership, more than being a centralized system, should also be extra careful in enforcement of certain rules or punishment.
When over-enforced, this could scare the people off and could lead to hysteria instead. On the presentation, I think that no other presentation could make the material’s message clearer to the viewers. It was presented in the best possible way. The use of sustaining element (irrational allegation and suspicion) was a creative way to make the material alive and to keep viewers at their feet until it reaches the conclusion. There were some dragging instances however but the author managed to overcome such by the use of mystery and intriguing dialogues.
Relating the material to my personal life and to our course in general, I think that the premise presented in the material is something that we are all familiar about. Each of our lives, whether we accept it or not, is a politics. And the only way that we could live better is to acceptance of what is and the strife for a better leadership and a responsible self (be it politically or personally).
Douthat, Ross and Ward, Selena. SparkNote on The Crucible. 4 Jun. 2008
Burns, Margo. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible: Fact & Fiction. 24 Oct 2003.