Hysteria Breaks Out

April 21, 2009
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Hysteria Breaks Out
The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is a play about the Salem witch trials. The Salem witch trials took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Several girls and then eventually other members of the community are suspected of practicing witchcraft. Hysteria breaks out in the town and even people that weren't witches, or even involved in it, confess to witchcraft.

Hysteria takes a very big role in the play, The Crucible, which starts in the end of Act 1. Abigail falsely accuses Tituba of witchcraft. After being heavily pressured, Tituba breaks down and confesses to an absolute lie. Tituba tells a lie out of agony: “And then he come one stormy night to me, and say, ‘Look! I have white people belong to me.' And I look- and there was Goody Good.” (1043) She says the devil told her, “'You work for me, Tituba, and I make you free! I give you pretty dress to wear, and put you way high up in the air, and you gone fly back to Barbados!'” (1043) The devil speaking to her is another lie thought up under pressure. All the lies are all due to the hysteria that was caused. When she was put under so much pressure it was easier for her to break down and go into crazy mode. She thinks up things to say that she wouldn't have normally ever been able to come up with on her own.

Hysteria eventually begins to break out all over the town because everyone started to believe Abigail's lies. In act 3 Abigail wants everyone to agree with her so she keeps on lying and gets all the girls so caught up that they begin to lie as well. She uses God in her testimonies and stops at nothing to make her lies seem as real as they can get. Abigail says, “Oh Mary, this is a black art to change your shape. No, I cannot. I cannot stop my mouth; it's Gods work I do.” (1048) Here she is acting like Mary Warren comes into her body and confesses and all the girls joined in acting as if they are Mary. Her actions caused hysteria and made everyone believe her. The girls get wound up and say they're seeing things also, even though they don't see anything at all.

Hysteria can often cause confusion. Many get so caught up with the craziness that eventually they believe any lie they hear which causes you to lose a sense in reality. In an article written by Arthur Miller he says, “So in one sense The Crucible was an attempt to make life real again…” Hysterical behavior is kind of like when drama gets started in a high school. Someone says one thing and as it spreads, people add on and make it huge. Eventually the story is completely blown out of proportion, and the rumor isn't even close to what the truth really is.

Works Cited
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Glencoe Literature: The Reader's Choice. Ed Jeffrey

Wilhelm seal. New York: Glencoe, 2008. 1022-1104
Miller, Arthur. “Are You Now or Were You Ever?” The Guardian/The Observer 17 June 2000. 30 Jan. 2009.





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