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The Psychology of Mass Hysteria In 1692 the people of a small religious village Salem Massachusetts fell victim to an outbreak of mass hysteria caused by a fear of witchcraft This fear of witchcraft was caused by a small group of girls who accused innocent people of the village of being under the influence of the devil and harming them with spells of witchcraft How would a town so concerned with religion react to such outlandish accusations Arthur Miller explores such questions in The Crucible In this play Miller describes how different people with different perspectives on the events handle this type of hysteria Some people join the afflicted girls and participate in the hysteria out of fear for their lives while others grow suspicious and try to find an explanation for how these honest girls or victims are accusing those otherwise innocent people of witchcraft Arthur Miller writes the play to demonstrate that human nature is actually good regardless of how easily humans can be influenced by the spread of evil He illustrates how pressure created by fear intolerance and frustration can cause people to accept their personal responsibilities Not only does the author show how can fear drive people away from their responsibilities in the play but also that a persons fear can push one to realize and accept their purposes and responsibilities John Proctor realizes how dangerous the witchcraft accusations are when the court officials arrest his wife Elizabeth for witchcraft and attempted murder The little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom and common vengeance writes the lawIll not give my wife to vengeance 77 Before his wife was arrested John was really unaware of the extent of danger behind the accusations of witchcraft in the village At first he is suspicious about the hysterical girls behavior but the fact that the trials did not directly affect his family makes him take the events less seriously Elizabeths arrest
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