The Salem Witch Trials were among some of the most horrendous, irrational, and imprudent, events of the 17th century. Not only were numerous people imprisoned, based on false testimonies and lack of judicial intelligence, but hung, or in one case, pressed to death. The claims of witchery caused calamity throughout the village, neighbors turning on one another; friends accusing each other just to salvage their own lives. In The Crucible, Puritan way of life revolves around the church. If you announce your opinion, you must disagree with the church. If you disagree with the church, you disagree with God; and if you dare disagree with God, you my friend, are a true Devil’s advocate. The Salem Witch Trials tended to base their arguments on fallacious statements made by imbecilic young girls, distraught middle-aged women, and a reverend, lustful for power--not exactly the precedent to set. However, claims of witchcraft were not the first seen in Salem Village, especially not for the power-hungry, Reverend Samuel Parris. Witchcraft was often seen and heard in England and widely known due to the Lancashire Witch trials. Furthermore, it shows that knowledge of witchery was imbedded into the minds of these villagers.
When the word witchcraft is said people often think of a long nosed, dark haired woman, boiling a pot of her wretched potion. Though the Puritan people viewed witchcraft as acts of the Devil, doing his dirty-work, one could say. Acts of witchery were looked down upon in England and most certainly looked down upon in Salem Village. These Puritans did not celebrate Christmas or Mardi Gras for they were festive acts looked down upon as well. Yet, what exactly is a true act of witchery? The most common happenings such as a cow not being able to produce milk would be considered witchcraft; a housewife could not churn butter, she was a witch.
In reality, the true Salem Witch Trials were somewhat different than those portrayed in The Crucible. In the book, Tituba takes the girls along into the woods to perform spells and rituals. However, in reality, Tituba was asked to bake a “witchcake” to find out who was possessing Betty. Ruth Putnam was the first to be vexed by witchery, however historical notes point that Abigail and Betty Williams were the first to be hurt. Ruth was not able to be woken up from a deep sleep, almost a coma. This was the only symptom of possession according to The Crucible. Nonetheless, actual symptoms would usually be violent, physical fits or outbursts.
Mrs. Parris is not in The Crucible because she has been dead for quite some time. However, Mrs. Parris was alive during the trials and died some years later. The book states Betty was present during the trials and in court. Truthfully, Betty was sent away once the actual trials began. Tituba was a slave from Barbados with no family. Proven correctly, Tituba actually had a husband, John, and a daughter, Violet.
The Proctor family is a bit different as well. The book describes John Proctor as somewhat young, probably in his mid-thirties, and a farmer. Elizabeth is said to be John’s only wife, however she is actually his third wife. The family consisted not just of two young boys, but one son much older around his thirties and two other children, a son and a daughter, both in their ‘teens. Arthur Miller admitted that he rose Abigail’s age from eleven to seventeen, but John was actually around sixty years of age and a tavern keeper. Elizabeth was around her early forties to be exact.
Flaws appear with the Putnams and Rebecca Nurse also. The Putnam’s daughter is named Ruth, yet her real name is Ann, like Goody Putnam. Goody Putnam states that Ruth is her only child remaining; false. The Putnam’s had six living children, including Ann. Rebecca Nurse hanged with John Proctor and Martha Corey on the same day; wrong again. Rebecca Nurse was hanged on July 19th, separate from both John Proctor and Martha Corey (neither person was hung with the...
Bibliography: “Historical Characters of The Crucible.” Historical Characters. . 5 Nov. 2011
“Images of the Salem Witchcraft Trails.” Images of the Salem Witchcraft Trails. . 5 Nov. 2011
“Salem Witch Trials - Biographical Information.” Salem Witch Trials. . 5 Nov. 2011
Burns, Margo. “Arthur Miller 's The Crucible: Fact & Fiction.” 17th Century Colonial New England. . 5 Nov. 2011
Buhr, Chris, and Katherine Sutcliffe. “Biographies of Key Figures in the Salem Witchcraft Trials.” Biographies of Key Figures in the Salem Witchcraft Trials. 5 Nov. 2011 .
""Enemies from Within": Senator Joseph R. McCarthy 's Accusations of Disloyalty." History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web. Web. 09 Nov. 2011. .
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
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