Fear can lead to a lot of things, but unfortunately, in humans it usually leads to something bad. Throughout history, fear has lead to some of the most violent actions by man, and some of the biggest collapses of organized society. In early American history, the people of Salem experienced this for themselves. Arthur Miller shows this in his book. The society of Salem that Miller creates in The Crucible shows how fear can slowly cause rational thought to deteriorate, leading to mass hysteria and eventually the breakdown of civilized behavior.
During Act I, Miller shows how each Salem’s citizens begin to realize this fear they have, and how it is slowly starting to take over their minds. This new idea that witchcraft exists in their very own society is too much for most people to handle. The very notion that “the necessity of the devil” could overtake them at any moment sends them directly down a path of fear (Miller 31). These witches who they now believe exist are associated with the one figure that they know is bad. The devil’s motives, although unclear to them, obviously involve the innocent people of their little town, which is more than their minds can comprehend. They start to believe irrational thoughts that encourage this fear, and that only leads to the worsening of the situation. Giles’s irrational fear of the “behavior of a hog” and how he “[knew] it had to be the Devil in an animal’s shape” prolongs this idea of paranoia (38). This “strange” behavior that Giles interprets as the work of the Devil exemplifies how even the smallest things are getting to the heads of the Salem citizens. Even Giles cannot justify his irrational fear, and he is the one who has it. Even he does not know what possesses him to have such a belief, but it only furthers the idea that the townspeople’s minds start to deteriorate, that the presence of evil is slowly invading their heads and ripping them of their rational thought. Now the citizens of Salem begin to get out of...
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