Honors English II
Tragic Decision Making Alter the Witch Hunt
Decision making can either make or break someone. The Salem Witch Trials consisted of many false accusations and unnecessary deaths. Arthur Miller portrayed the symptoms of “groupthink”, written by Irvin Janis, during the course of The Crucible. Janis’ article explores the psychology of decision making among a group. The major symptoms that seem to manifest The Crucible are self-censorship, pressure, and mindguards.
Self-censorship is a common symptom of “groupthink” shown throughout Miller’s play. For instance, while John Proctor is frustrated about the accusations made against his wife, Elizabeth, Hale hesitates but must stand his ground and keep his opinions to himself. Miller writes, “Proctor:… There are them that will swear to anything before they’ll hang; have you never thought of that? Hale: I have. I—I have. It is his own suspicion, but he resists” (Miller 1303). Proctor seems to not understand that all accusations must be acted on and Hale must do his job as a Reverend, despite the outcome. Hale hides his suspicions by keeping his doubts to himself, therefore, exhibiting self-censorship. Supporting Miller’s example, Janis describes the symptom itself. “Groupthink” states, “avoid deviating from what appears to be group consensus; they keep silent about their misgivings… minimizes the importance of their doubts” (Janis). Unexpressed doubt avoids conflict to maintain the apparent majority rule. Clearly, Hale keeps silent, making his opinion a minority to the group’s decision. Although, self-censorship is a significant symptom expressed, some characters in The Crucible portray unanimity.
In addition, pressure is frequently seen among the victims during the Salem Witch Trials. The hysteria throughout the trials gave everyone the adrenaline necessary to spill the beans. During all of the stirred commotion, Abigail threatens the other girls, “Let...
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