The Reign of Terror and the Salem Witch Trials: Reshaping Society

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The period of the French Revolution known as the Reign of Terror was similar to the trials and tribulations faced by the characters of The Crucible by Arthur Miller. The cycle of oppression, opportunity, and fear created the struggle for power that was key to the outcome of both events. The French Revolution, beginning in 1789, was a lengthy process in which the people of France took over the government and instituted a Republic (Chambers). The overarching goal of the Revolution was to place the power of government in the hands of the people. For two years, whilst France was facing internal disorganization and external wartime threats, the government was run by a war dictatorship under Maximilien Robespierre, the head of the Committee …show more content…
However, the worst was over, and the executions were largely over with. The Reign of Terror had ended.
In late 18th century France, the majority of the population, consisting of poor commoners, had little control over their lives. The same was true for the women and children of Puritan societies at the time of The Crucible. Both groups of people lived in an age of political turmoil (for the Puritans, this was the age of King William’s War and similar conflicts) and had little say in their fate. Thus when the opportunity presented itself to have some control over others, they sprang. For the girls in The Crucible, accusing someone of witchcraft gave them authority. They were summoned to court to do “weighty work”, and the entire town valued what they had to say (Miller 58). For the commoners of France it was largely the same story. They had been given a voice, and they used it however they could. At first, it was often petty revenge that drove them to accuse their neighbors and fellow townspeople, but it quickly grew out of their control (Chambers). A few accusations turned into a widespread hysteria concerning their respective issues—“the town [had] gone wild” (Miller 52). Soon, everyone believed the illusion. The lie had grown so large that even the accusers believed it. As Mary Warren proclaimed in The Crucible, “It
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