The psychology behind The Crucible

In class today we started really discussing The Crucible and Jonathan pointed out that the book is mainly about the betrayal of others and what we as people do when fear overwhelms us. Brenden pointed out, as it can be said for all of our history, that we repeatedly become what it is that we are rebelling against. Even though this is a bit of a psychological question, I was wondering why you all thought that we do this. Why do we become what we most hate? And why is it we choose sides in a battle, say false things we don’t mean, and later regret? Why do all the girls in the story call others witches; is it just to protect themselves (their punishment wouldn’t be that severe), or is it something else? What makes a person able to command another to death? Just something to think about…

-Sorry this is late..

-Savanna Beach


7 thoughts on “The psychology behind The Crucible

  1. I think that people move in a circle; people live in a circle. We try so hard to get away from what we hate, yet in this circular motion of life we come back to that exact thing we don’t want to be a part of us. After trying everything not to become someone we hate, we become that person anyway. It reminds me of the life cycle: When a baby is born it is unable to care for itself.. than that baby goes on to live through teenage years, adulthood and then back again into a similar state that it came in at first; unable to take care of oneself.

  2. I think the initial thought of fear can provoke people to extremes. Also, an authoritative figure can make individuals do uncomfortable things. However, to answer the about why we become the thing we fought against, I believe in order to fight against something so horrible such as fascism can create people who test the limits of what can be and can’t. When an authoritative figure that strikes fear in everyone is the person testing the limits, then I think that is when the line between fighting for good and creating evil.

  3. I’m not sure if this is fully on the topic, but could the old adage “Absolute power corrupts, absolutely” not be applied here? I bring this up based on the question about Abigail and the other girls crying witch all over Salem. At first, they probably did it to avoid whatever punishment was coming their way for dancing. Then when they saw how much power they held over everyone, they continued. Human nature. Just a thought.

  4. I think it is the controlling aspect of fear — paranoia, and the abuse thereof by an authority, can result in some amazing things. Hitler used fear, the USA used fear during the 1950s-1990s, and is using it again with the terrorists. Fear is first created through an external source (9-11) then results in an action (the Patriot Act) and once that action is committed, it is very hard to pull back from without eliminating that fear. Fear is pervasive — human beings can be moved to fear through the fear of others, and that results in irrational actions such as the continuance of the Patriot Act despite the lack of terrorist activity within the last 10 years. Fear is also a powerful bargaining chip for politicians.


  5. When push comes to shove, our primal instincts take over and survival becomes our main concern. When discussing situations in a hypothetical sense, when we aren’t the ones facing death, it is easy to point the finger at the people of Salem, or the HUAC for that matter, and point out their flaws. When we are the ones facing executing, however, all bets are off. I cannot say honestly that I would have the fortitude to die for my beliefs, when telling a simple lie will put someone else in harms way. That kind of courage is very rare, regardless of what people may think. We all imagine ourselves as the hero, when in reality most people would gladly trade heroism for longevity any day.

  6. Good analysis Savanna. No matter how much we try not to become what we hate the most, we usually become it anyway. Why is that? Probably because we put so much focus on what we don’t want to become that we blow it out of proportion. Brenden is absolutely right. It’s easy to say that you wouldn’t resort to cannibalism for example but what happens when you are put in a situation like the Dahmer party where you plane crashes into a snow covered mountain and you are starving to death because there is not food. I know that is a brutal example but it’s true. Whenever someone is put in a life or death situation, there’s no telling what they will resort to in order to stay alive. Darwin called this survival of the fittest. The methods can be barbaric, even resorting in the deaths of others as seen in The Crucible. Whenever you are overwhelmed by a majority of people, sometimes its easier to agree (or pretend to agree) with the majority than stand by yourself for fear of persecution or being ostracized. Just look at clicks among school children. In a desperate need to gain popularity, children often (not always) become bullies; preying on whoever is different just to fill their own self-gratification.
    Erika K.

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