The Crucible is a film set in the time of the Salem Witch Trials and written by Arthur Miller. The film and play, though inaccurate in some specific details, has some incredible accuracy for a story that was meant to symbolize McCarthyism. It accurately displays the tension that resulted from land arguments as well as their possible effects on the SalemWitch Trials. There are some inconsistencies relating to individual character, but the major historical inaccuracy comes in the form of the cause of the Salem Witch Trials along with the motives and identity of certain characters. Despite these failings, the movie and play are accurate enough that it does not give viewers notions about the Witch Trials that did not at least partially exist in history. . There are multiple theories about the cause and many of them have some sort of evidence or logical support, but the one Miller chose is that it was the fault of a few girls and a slave who were trying to get out of trouble. While not impossible, most modern scholars have other idea about how such an event occurred. The primary theories of the cause of the Salem Witch Trials are Ergot Poisoning and the Fatal Spark2. Ergot poisoning has a substantial evidential basis, but with some gaping holes. The theories of Emergent Capitalism and the Fatal Spark have a lack of evidential basis, but have solid logic behind them and in fact do not preclude the possibility of Ergot Poisoning being involved in some form or way.
Ergot Poisoning, or Ergotism, is when someone is exposed to a large amount of the Claviceps purpurea fungus that can grow on Rye. A cold winter and wet spring with high humidity enhances the growth of Claviceps purpurea, like the seasons preceding the Salem Witch Trials, and a low-lying marshland farm area, like the area surrounding Salem, has a even higher chance of ergot infestatation1. The year of the Salem Witch Trials also had a shortage in Rye from the year before which caused them
Bibliography: Ray, Benjamin C., “The Salem Witch Mania,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 7, issue 1 (2010): 40-64. http://www.galileo.usg.edu Woolf, Alan. 2000. "Witchcraft or Mycotoxin? The Salem Witch Trials." Journal Of Toxicology -- Clinical Toxicology 38, no. 4: 457-460. http://www.galileo.usg.edu Mixon Jr., Franklin G. 2000. "Homo Economicus and the Salem Witch Trials." Journal Of Economic Education 31, no. 2: 179-184. http://www.galileo.usg.edu Miller, Arthur. The Crucible, America: Viking Press, 1953.