Fear is Something to be Feared
The word “fear” can be defined as: a traumatic feeling aroused by impending risk or pain. In his play The Crucible, Arthur Miller attends to the fear embedded within Puritan society. According to the Public Broadcasting Service, “Puritans resided in a constant state of spiritual stress and anxiety, searching for signs of God’s favor or anger.” This anxiety moved the Salem Witch Trials and made them extremely tough to stop. Therefore, Miller proves that fear had actually been the Puritans’ fatal defect.
Primarily, Tituba begins the chain of allegations due to fear. When Abigail accuses her of calling the Devil, Tituba is backed into a corner. She confesses to witchcraft after Parris threatens, “You will confess yourself or I will take you out and whip you to your death, Tituba!” (Miller 44). Then, Tituba is pushed into accusing others of witchcraft. Hale asks her, “When the Devil pertains to you does he ever come– with another person?” With this question, an allegation could be prevented, but Parris interrupts with, “Who included him?” suggesting that Tituba needs to name somebody (45 ). Afterwards, Tituba is asked a series of demanding questions such as: “Did you ever see Sarah Great with him? Or Osburn?” and “Was it guy or lady featured him?” up until she lastly cracks and begins describing who she implicates (46 ). Therefore, Tituba is offered no other choice but to choose: admit to and implicate others of witchcraft, or be killed. Consequentially, Tituba’s worry of death leads to the beginning of the Salem Witch Trials, in which nineteen individuals were unjustly sentenced to death. The Salem Witch Trials considerably contributed to the end of Puritanism due to the fact that they exposed the fear and corruption that was hidden in Puritan society.
Additionally, Mary Warren’s fear of exemption triggers her to turn on Proctor. Of course, Mary fears for her life, but she feels safe when she belongs to a group. For example, she has no problem pretending to be chilled by imaginary spirits when she is with Abby and the other ladies. Nevertheless, she is unable to reenact this by herself to show to the court that the ladies are just pretending to see spirits. When she remains in court as Proctor’s witness, she tries really hard to tell the truth. But, when Abigail and the girls pretend to see her spirit as a bird, she can not stand to be singled out and omitted. The stage directions checked out: “Gradually Abigail and the women leave off, up until only Mary is left there, gazing up at the “bird,” yelling madly (118 ). The moment Mary Warren is left by herself, she switches on Proctor and accuses him of handling the Devil. Therefore, Mary Warren turns her back on the fact since she hesitates to be the outcast. Worry not only proves to be deadly to John Proctor, but likewise to Puritanism itself due to the fact that it shows that the pressure to fit into Puritan society was so excellent that individuals wanted to desert their morals to do so.
Last but not least, Danforth fails to put an end to the Witch Trials because he fears losing his assurance. He knows that he has convicted many individuals of witchcraft, and he does not know how he will cope with himself if they turn out to be innocent. This leads Danforth to continue hanging individuals in an attempt to persuade himself that he is doing the best thing. Danforth states, “Them that will not admit will hang. Twelve are currently executed; the names of these 7 are offered, and the town expects to see them die today. Postponement now speaks a going to pieces on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the regret of them that passed away till now” (129 ). Through this, it is clear that Danforth’s worry of being incorrect prompts him to lie to himself and continue the vicious cycle of convictions. The worry of being wrong was ravaging to Puritan society due to the fact that it directly related to corrupt management.
In general, through the consequences of his characters worries, Miller is able to prove that worry is the Puritans’ fatal defect due to the fact that it drove the society to a state of immorality and corruption. Each person’s fear for his/her own life cost the lives of many others. Fear has actually always battled with morality, and it always will.
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York City: Penguin Books, 1976.
“Individuals & & Concepts: The Puritans.” PBS. PBS. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.