The Crucible is based on the true events of historical people and the salem witch trials. It begins when a group of young girls are seen dancing in the woods, they are immediately accused of witchcraft and speaking with the devil. The next day, the entire town knew of the events that occured and easily claimed them to be witches. Paranoia is also shown when Elizabeth Proctor is accused of being a witch and practicing witchcraft. The towns people are engulfed in hysteria and paranoia and begin accusing many women of witchcraft with little evidence. Which proves that one paranoid man or women can destroy an entire town with their thoughts and accusations. This shows the paranoia and fear within the small town.
In the very first scene of The Crucible where a character Paris is accusing a young girl Abigail of dancing in the woods with his daughter Betty and conjuring with the devil. Betty is asleep and can’t be woken which is why he believes they were trafficking with the devil, along with catching them dancing in the woods. Paris is afraid that since he is reverend of the church that people will judge his position and worthiness if his daughter was practicing witchcraft. We know this when Paris says “Now then, in the midst of such disruption, my own household is discovered to be the very centre of some obscene practice” (10). Paris is also paranoid about the whole situation because he already claims that some people question his position as reverend and this would be the excuse to him being thrown out of Salem. He states “Now look you, child, your punishment will come in its time. But if you trafficked with spirits in the forest I must know it now, for surely my enemies will, and they will ruin me with it” (10). This tells us that Paris has enemies and is paranoid they will destroy him with the knowledge of his daughter practicing witchcraft.
Another example of how fear and paranoia is shown in The Crucible is in Act 1 when Giles Corey is suspicious of his wife reading “strange books” at night and hiding them from him. In this scene he is obviously accusing some sort of witchcraft or evil in these books. He even claimed that he could not say his prayers while his wife was reading her “strange books”. He says “It discomfits me! Last night — mark this — I tried and tried and could not say my prayers. And then she close her book and walks out of the house, and suddenly — mark this — I could pray again” (38)! Reverend Hale claims that these are major signs of witchcraft and that he will investigate. Later on in Act 2, Martha Corey gets arrested for witchcraft because of her husband’s paranoia, which leads to both of their deaths. This is another major example of fear and paranoia in The Crucible.
My last example of paranoia in The Crucible is when Goody Putnam believes that her children could not have died of natural causes and that they were cursed using witchcraft and that her living child, Ruth was also now being affected by a murdering witch. They are discussing Betty’s sickly state when Mrs. Putnam says to Paris “I have laid seven babies unbaptized in the earth. Believe me, sir, you never saw more hearty babies born. And yet, each would wither in my arms the very night of their birth” (14). She continues “And now, this year, my Ruth, my only — I see her turning strange. A secret child she has become this year, and shrivels like a mouth were pullin’ on her life too” (15). Mr. Putnam also buts in, claiming their is a murdering witch among them, hiding herself in the shadows. This shows both Mrs. and Mr. Putnam’s paranoia when it comes to witches.
My opinion on The Crucible is that many women were falsely accused of witchcraft if not all. The people of Salem were extremely paranoid and driven by fear in their accusations, I believe it was unjust to accuse so many women with little proof and destroy their lives in this excruciating way. While there may have been some reason for fear and maybe were some women practicing witchcraft in Salem, they definitely could have gone about the situation in a much more humane way. It would have been more effective if they collected evidence and found the real perpetrator, instead of accusing any women that they had the slightest lead on. Some reasons for accusing these women of witchcraft were extremely unjust, such as Martha Corey. Martha Corey was believed to be a witch because she read “strange books” and her own husband accused her of this. I find this situation to be one of the ones that upset me the most along with Elizabeth Proctor who was framed by a girl who was jealous of her.
How are events in The Crucible driven by paranoia and fear? In conclusion, The Crucible is driven by paranoia and fear because of the characters accusations against the townswomen for witchcraft. They blamed people of practicing witchcraft for the smallest of things without much proof. They ruined many innocent people’s lives with their accusations. The Crucible is a great example of why you shouldn’t make assumptions about certain things and let paranoia drive your fear. The Crucible relates to modern day society because we all make assumptions about people without even knowing them or having any idea what they are like. We judge people by their looks and things that we hear about them, such as rumors being spread or how a person acts online. The Crucible is an example of judging someone based on rumors about them or things they do. Regardless, The Crucible was an amazing classic that sent me through a whirlwind of emotions and I loved reading it.