The Crucible and Year of Wonders

Topic: LifeEmpathy
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Last updated: May 2, 2019

Written during the era of Senator McCarthy’s communist witch hunt, Arthur Miller’s text, the Crucible, seeks to explore the impacts of such fear in times of duress.

In the American town of Salem, Miller considers the first impact to be the deterioration of the social order which inevitably fractures under the tensions of crisis. Moreover, this fragmentation of civic values also translates into the abandonment of individual principles. For as society begins to crumble, so too does the morality of particular individuals, regardless of their preconceived integral stature within the community. At its most fundamental level, the text reveals the ineptitude of the legal framework in the face of severe crises. From the outset, the crisis of witchcraft itself seems to spur on the desertion of rational thought. Abigail William’s concession that ‘[they] danced’ in the woods conjures an image of an innocuous game.

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However, Mary Warren attests to the fact that the broader community interprets the sporting playfulness very differently;’ the whole country’s talkin’ witchcraft!’ As normal discussion becomes frenzied conjecture, uncertainty gives birth to paranoia and sheer madness. Thus, in the wake of such irrationality, the girls bear the brunt of society’s loss of reason as they know too well that ‘witchery’s a-hanging’ just as ‘they done in Boston two year ago!’ Furthermore, while the inhabitants of Salem become victims of crises’ madness, the girls become the agents of their contrived insanity. Therefore, mania is born on two fronts. First of all, the disordered lunacy breeding off a collective hysteria as accusations are made that ‘there is a murdering witch among [them], bound to keep herself in the dark.’ And, secondly, the delusion which binds the carefully calculated madness of the girls as they respond to the community’s insanity with their fanatical intent. Subsequently, in this widespread frenzy, the ine.

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