Synthesis Essay: Bill of Rights VS Salem Witch Trials
Many children scheming, innocent people arrested, madness ensuing—all of these disastrous incidents took place in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible—a book portraying the atrocious events of the Salem Witch Trials. If the Bill of Rights had been written before the trials took place, there most likely would’ve been quite a few effects on the outcomes of the trials. A few amendments that could have possibly made a difference in the Salem Witch Trials are Amendment I, Amendment IV, and Amendment VIII of the Bill of Rights.
One of the first amendments that would have had made an enormous difference in the Salem Witch Trials is Amendment I, which is “Religious and Political Freedom.” Everyone that was on trial during the Salem Witch Trials had been charged with practicing witchcraft or “[trafficking] with the Devil” (Miller, 1981, p. 64). At the time, it was against the law to have anything to do with witchcraft or conspiring with the Devil. If the Bill of Rights had been written prior to the trials, then nobody would’ve been charged, unless they were being charged for an actual crime. This is because the First Amendment states that there can be “no law respecting an establishment of religion” (Kennedy, Cohen, & Bailey, 2002, p. A44). Witchcraft is considered a religious belief to those who practice it; therefore there may have possibly been no Salem Witch Trials to begin with.
Another amendment of the Bill of Rights that could’ve possibly changed the outcome of the trials is Amendment IV—“Searches and Seizures.” When Elizabeth is charged with practicing witchcraft in The Crucible, Cheever comes to her house in search of any poppets. When asked “on what proof” (Miller, 1981, p. 73), Cheever only responds with, “I have little time” (Miller, 1981, p. 73). Cheever gives no legitimate reason and has no “probable cause” (Kennedy, Cohen, & Bailey, 2002, p. A45) as to why...