Hysteria describes a state of mind, one of unmanageable fear or emotional excess. Mass hysteria refers to a condition affecting a group of persons, characterized by excitement or anxiety, irrational behaviour or beliefs or inexplicable symptoms of illness. History is said to repeat itself, and in the case of hysteria this seems to be a certainty. Over thousands of years numerous events have began a whirlwind of mass hysteria blowing situations out of proportion escalating to extreme results. Three significant events throughout history that demonstrate the effects of mass hysteria on societies and even the world include the 1692 Salem witch trials, the McCarthyism era from the late 1940’s to the late 1950’s and 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, New York in 2001.
Arthur Miller is significant when looking at both McCarthyism and The Crucible. Inspired by “The Red Scare” during the McCarthyism era Arthur Miller wrote his drama The Crucible, based on the historical events of 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, Miller depicts the society which crumbles under the pressure of lies and threats to the accusation of “witchcraft”. The accusations began out of fear from the young girls in Salem who were found “dancing” in the woods, the fear that they would get in trouble for what they had done the immediate response was to push the blame elsewhere. Abigail Williams is the known leader of these accusations, her head and heart tainted by lust and greed she refuses her name to be as black in the village as it is in her mind, she gains the support of the other girls in the lie through threats “We danced... And that is all. And mark this. Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you know I can do it”. Lust mistaken for love for a married man of the village, John Proctor, saw her lies spiral out of...
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