Causes Of Hysteria In The Crucible

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Witch hunts are nothing new to humanity. Throughout human history, there have been countless instances of how mass hysteria rippled through society. From the famous Salem witch trials to the Red Scare of the 1950s, and even in the Hundred Flowers Campaign, collective hysteria has been shown to decimate entire populations, even in the modern-day world. During the Salem witch trials of the late seventeenth century, over 200 people were accused of witchcraft and around twenty were hanged consequently. This was likely due to the colonists’ fear and need for scapegoats to blame for the recent hardships that had struck Salem. “[T]hey suppos[ed] [the Devil] was the cause, operating through the agency of witches… They believed, also, that the Devil was about to establish an agency…and had actually commenced operations in Salem Village” (qtd. in Brooks, “History of the Salem Witch Trials”). After the confession of Tituba, an accused slave, the town was triggered to hunt for more witches, and the mass hysteria had begun. However, it was soon evident that the reasons behind the accusations were much more complicated. As noted in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, people often accused their enemies based off of personal grudges, political differences, religious feuds, and even property disputes. This collective hysteria became the perfect opportunity for people to eliminate their opponents; many have even gone as far as using evidence fabrication and false witnesses (Brooks, “History of
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