The theme of mass hysteria is evident through multiple community waggles in the Crucible. Initially, the town of Salem had been closely tied into usual community activities. However, recent happenings which left Betty unconscious left the people unsettled and hysterical about possible witchcraft occurrences. The theme of mass hysteria is relevant in the twenty-first century because it is an actual reflection of issues in diverse communities. It also reflects the most usual occurrences facing societies, such as power, evil, corruption, and integrity. Mass hysteria in Crucible is represented by the various circumstances which create tension, rivalry and hate among the community members.
The general mass hysteria in the Crucible sets in after the dilemma of the Reverend’s daughter Betty is unconscious and unmoving. The strange symptoms fail to secure cure even after consultation with the community doctor (Miller 42). More unrest is experienced when Thomas Putnam cites that Ruth has similar symptoms. Putnam mentions the possible occurrence of witchcraft aimed at causing anguish to the community. After multiple consultations, several individuals are liked by witchcraft, including John’s wife. However, Putnam, Abigail, and Parris have hidden motives, and their involvement in resolve the community menace is guided by the urge to satisfy their reasons.
Every character in the Crucible follows Abigail’s claims in naming the witch. As Abigail ascertains, “ I will not blacken face on behalf of anyone” (Miller 52). The quote illustrates that she is willing to hold the truth and protect her public reputation rather than admit her involvement with witcraft. The people in Salem were forced to give names randomly with fear of imprisonment or condemnation. Also, some characters use their positions to instill antagonism, aggressiveness, and fearing the community in the play. For instance, Abigail highly encourages antagonism by stating that she had been involved with witchcraft. Before the confession, Abigail had laid the blame on Mary Wallen while eyeing other possible victims (Miller 106). Hysteria plays a significant role, especially in creating a divide between the accusers and the victims.
Moreover, the scrupulous desire of the characters to own more led to victimization and false accusation. The deception and manipulation were an opportunity for Abigael to have John all by herself. By accusing Elizabeth of witchcraft, she would be conflicted, and their affair would go un objected to. However, John admits to their love affair and loses his dignity according to social customs regarding adultery (Miller 102).
In the Crucible, religious fervor is a significant cause of hysteria, especially when characters sacrifice reason and justice. Most individuals use hysterical fear to express anger and resentment, while others use the opportunity or their gains. However, fear is a collective hysteria, and religion is a significant necessity that lifts their hope. Abby uses the religious beliefs to conflict Warren into admitting involvement in witchcraft. The religion dictated forgiveness for those who confess and execution for those who failed to acknowledge their sin. All community members believed that witchcraft had distanced them from their religious believes as Giles Corey says, “last night I experienced discomfort, I couldn’t pray” (Miller 38). In this case, religion failed to serve the purpose of hope but rather heightened fear and made the victims more vulnerable.
The general effects of mass hysteria in Crucible are the creation of a divide in the Salem community. The characters use the current situation for vengeance rather than uniting to source the primary cause of the unrest. As the play goes on, hysteria leads to destruction as the characters tear on each other over unverified claims.