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Miranda Ferris Mrs.

Krehbiel La III December 14, 2012

The Afflicted Girls of The Salem Witch Trails, A Comparison and Contrast between The Crucible and Real Life.

Youre in court, confused, and scared. Next to you, a group of girls are choking and gagging; their lips are turning blue, their eyes are bulging, and their cheeks are flushed. You are the accused, and these suffering girls are the afflicted, the accusers, thevictims? The afflicted girls were portrayed in The Crucible by Arthur Miller as a love story gone wrong, but what really happened was much, much worse. Who were these girls? How old were they really? What really could have caused them to act out? Who truly was the ringleader in this event? How accurate is The Crucible in its facts about these girls? Similarly as in The Crucible, the ages of these girls ranged widely from 12-20. For example, it mentions in Act 1, Abigail Williams, seventeen-enters, (Miller 9). However, In Witch Hunt, author Marc Aronson, describes some of the afflicted girls, and their ages. For example, Twelve year-old Ann Putnam Jr., her mother, Ann Sr., a seventeen-year-old servant living with the Putnams named Mercy Lewis, and another seventeen-year-old relative and neighbor named Mary Walcott all showed signs of affliction. Elizabeth Hubbard, the seventeen-year-old niece of a local physician, and

Mary Warren, a twenty-year-old servant, did too, (Aronson 62). So between the Crucible and what is believed in real life, just Abigail alone had a five-year age difference! But can you really blame these girls for starting something like this? It is believed that the Puritans lived just like that. Pure. Miller and other authors have described their life in the same way. In Salem Witch Trials, author Kalek Magoon talks about how truly minimalistic their life really was; Puritans turned completely away from what they saw as the old props of religion...Instead, they built their faith on clean, simple planks, like the timber of their churchesReligion for them was not a moment here or there-a sermon on the Sabbath Day...Each household was considered a little congregation, with the father as a kind of minister. He would lead the family in prayer... Children were viewed as prideful and stubborn(Magoon 26). Miller makes a good point about the Puritan life as well: No one can really know what theyre lives were like, they had no novelists and wouldnt have permitted anyone to read a noveltheir creed forbade anything resembling theater or vain enjoyment..,(Miller 2). These people had a very, very strict life, and Im sure that that could have left some of the girls stressed and bored. So what could have caused the girls to act this way? Miller portrays Abigail Williams as a scorned-by-love vengeful teen, who accuses women of witchcraft just to get a much older, reluctant, MARRIED man. But what really started this terrible event? Miller mentions in The Crucible that Betty Parris is the first to fall ill, likewise Magoon does the same, Betty Parris and her cousin Abigail Williams were the first to fall ill in January 1692. Betty was just nine years oldEleven-year-old Abigail lived with the Parris family. The girls may have played around with fortune-telling and folk magic in

the months before the fits began, so the idea of witch craft was not new to them, (Magoon 2). He also mentions that the hysteria and torture that the girls experienced could have been a real epidemic of a very real disease: ..At the time, the animals illness was suspected to be the work of witchesindicates that there may have been a widespread outbreak of illness in Salem...historians have explored the idea that the afflictions were caused by some physical illness..theory is that there was an outbreak of a serious disease called encephalitis lethargica, (Magoon 80). So Millers and Magoons opinions definitely differ on how this event started. But another question is, who really was the ringleader in this? Could it really have been a 17-year-old girl? Or maybe someone younger? Miller definitely makes Abigail a deadly threat. In Act III, the afflicted girls, John Proctor, the judges, and a few other officials are in the court, discussing whether or not Mary Warrens deposition is truthful about the girls pretending. Abigail is determined to keep Mary from ruining her plan and so she acts out in this way: Abigail, [looks] about in the air, clasping her arms about, as though cold, (Miller 49). But Magoon differs from this theory, believing that, Ann Jr. [named Ruth By Miller] and the whole family-perhaps some of them reluctantly-joined herAnn was cunning and quick-thinking. She claimed that the specter [of Martha Corey] had spoken clearly, naming itself as Martha, but had blinded the girl and refused to describe its clothes, (Magoon 96). Either way, the girls were obviously crazy. But even though the stories are similar in some ways, they are mainly hugely different. What started out as either a jealous young woman, or a vengeful child, it all turned out worse than either Ruth or Abigail anticipated. Many people died, and

The Crucible and real accounts both show it. There are many theories about what happened, but I would say Miller was close, he did have many different aspects of the girls, but the similarities are there, and the differences as well. Whether her name was Abigail, or Ruth, or Ann, its easy to tell that between real life and The Crucible, there was one ringleader, and that this was probably the result of too much control, too much restraint.

Works Cited

Aronson, Marc. Witch Hunt: MYSTERIES OF the salem WITCH TRIALS. New York: Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2003. Print.

Magoon, Kekla. The Salem Witch Trials. Edina: ABDO, 2008. Print.

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Austin: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2005. Print.