Stevens 1

Jenny Stevens
AP Lang Pd.1
Kelley
2/8/14
Prevalence of Wooden-headedness
In the March of Folly, historian Barbara Tuchman addresses the prevalence of woodenheadedness in a variety of human affairs. Such people suffer from being stubborn and shielding
themselves from facts they may not want to accept. Wooden-headedness develops through a
series of stages which determine the severity of it in individuals, affecting the society around
them.
Wooden-headedness, or the denial of contrary signs to a preconceived thought, is
commonly prevalent in those with alternative motives, driven to do something which may only
benefit them. Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, based on the Salem Witch Trials, portrays
several hidden agendas in various characters. Specifically, Judge Danforth demonstrates
persistence in killing accused witches in order to gain a highly respected status. He boastfully
discusses the amount of trials and hangings he has conducted, and refuses to stray from the setin-stone laws and listen to any defenses, leading to the deaths of innocent civilians due to his
narrow mind set. His unnecessary denial of contradicting facts in order to achieve his personal
goal harmed a parcel of the population. This sort of constricted thought and desire is common in
the business world in more recent affairs. At the end of the nineteenth century, the government
was built on economic interests, specifically when dealing with foreign affairs. William Howard
Taft created what is known as the “Dollar Diplomacy” system which interacted with countries
overseas with the aspiration of achieving great economic success. The drive to achieve a single
purpose in disregard of effects on others validates the prevalence of wooden-headedness.

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Wooden-headedness is prevalent to certain degrees throughout an individual’s life.
Psychological studies which analyze various stages of human life have displayed the reoccurring
trait of believing the world revolves around oneself and being oblivious to others’ needs and
wants. This is first shown in toddlers when they are fairly unaware of others’ feelings, therefore
disregarding anything that does not set them in the spotlight or ensure the delivery of what they
want. This behavior becomes noticeable again in teenagers and young adults. As a result, people
who are, to a degree – selfish, isolate only their ideas and are convinced they are always correct.
Failure to accept various ideas or options impairs social skills and skews the individual’s role in
society. When people do not grow out of this stage and learn to see the perspective or
suggestions of others, the behavior widely affects those involved with the person. Adolf Hitler is
a prime example of a narrow mind toward a utopian society. Only desiring a specific race and
religion to dominate the world, this extremist killed millions of innocent Jews. In society today,
firm believers who take strong stances on controversial topics display wooden-headedness. As
some fanatical advocates disregard differences to what they stand for, distance between societies
is created.
By nature, the prevalence of wooden-headedness exists among humanity in
different situations constantly throughout history. This trait leads to large events which often
harm those in the wake.

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Works Cited
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York, Penguin Books. 1953. Print.