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Joshua Pangilinan

Period 8: AP Literature

January 10, 2018

Argumentative Essay: The Crucible

During the year of 1692, Salem, Massachusetts had a major crisis of witchcraft. In less

than a year, many people in the town were accused of witchcraft, eventually leading to twenty

executions. Under the Puritan religion and British law, the colony had fast, swift trials of

whomever was accused of being a witch or not. However, many of these people accused were

brought under an unjust system, in which there was no real concrete evidence of any real

witches. From a scientific/technological perspective, it can be assumed that Arthur Miller was

trying to say that there was no real evidence to hold anyone accountable for witchcraft against

one another, instead these charges are more based of the philosophy of hysteria.

Throughout the Salem Witch Trials, there was no excessive use of the scientific method.

Specifically, the scientific methods did not play its role within the time. In Arthur Miller’s book,

The Crucible​, Miller seems to give off a sense that the scientific method was not being portrayed

to its fullest during the Salem Witch Trials. Throughout the book, people obviously made various

observation within the community and its people. Once someone acted differently than the rest,

they were questioned to be a witch or anything related with the Devil. Then the people would

make a hypothesis claiming that certain people were bewitched or are witches through

observation. Arthur Miller portrays this event in the very first act where the town has suspected

witchcraft on Betty Parris, under the roof of Parris’ place. In the Act, Putnam states: “Now look

you, sir. Let you strike out against the Devil, and the village will bless you for it! Come down,
speak to them-pray with them. They’re thirsting for your word, Mister ! Surely you’ll pray with

them” (Miller 16). Here, the whole town is waiting outside on their suspicion of Betty being

bewitched or involved of witchcraft leading the town into fear. Thus, with such events certain

accusations in court are made to lead people to be jailed or hung because of what the people have

observed.

In the Salem Witch Trials, there was a missing factor that is crucial to science and in any

argument, evidence. Not just witness or agreeable evidence, but scientifical evidence. Miller

tried to bring out that the only evidence there was for anyone to be a witch was for someone to

say that the person was a witch. There was no study on the accused's’ brains nor were there any

evidence of inhuman activities. Most of the problems occured that seemed like witchcraft

seemed to be philosophical issue to where the people thought witchcraft was true. In fact, in an

article from Mike Kubic, “The Salem (And Other) Witch Hunts”, stated: The charges by the

clearly unhinged youngsters spread like wildfire and in the spring of 1692 launched a terrifying

wave of hysteria” (Kubic 5). There was no hard evidence to say that they were witches of any

kind except for what the people had to say or do. It is true that witnessing any abnormality can be

a strong piece of evidence; however, there is no evidence of legitimate witchery. The belief of

anything that can not be proven to a full extent or seemed to be a philosophical issue was just a

hysteria of the time.

The hysteria of being bewitched or simply accusing a possible witch was just an example

of the modern day placebo effect. Given anything that doesn’t actually affect the human body,

people may fall under the placebo effect where the brain thinks that it is actually getting affected

by something. An example Miller shows is during a court case where Abigail and the other girls
fell under the feeling that they were bewitched. This is shown in Act three, the text states,

“DANFORTH, growing hysterical: Why can they only repeat you? PROCTOR: Give me a

whip—I’ll stop it! MARY WARREN: They’re sporting. They—! GIRLS: They’re sporting!

MARY WARREN, turning on them all hysterically and stamping her feet: Abby, stop it! GIRLS,

stamping their feet: Abby, stop it! MARY WARREN: Stop it! GIRLS: Stop it!” (Miller 108).

Here, the girl in the courtroom fell under the hysteria of being bewitched. The girls started to

copy whatever Mary Warren was starting to say, accusing Mary Warren of being the witch. The

girls saw Abigail copy Mary Warren first and seemed to follow along as if they were bewitched.

The whole witchcraft thing seemed to be more of a placebo effect because of what evidence were

brought upon. No scientific evidence proved that anyone was a witch except for the beliefs of

one’s thought.

Looking at ​The Crucible​ through a scientific/technological perspective Arthur Miller

showed that there was no real evidence to hold anyone accountable for witchcraft against one

another, instead these charges are more based of the philosophy of hysteria. Many of the people

within the community were deceived with the idea of witchcraft throughout the town because of

their religious belief. More or like, the town was possibly swift on these accusation due to their

fear of the Devil. However, in history there were many events similar to the Salem Witch Trials.

The most similar and well-known event has been the Holocaust where if the people in Europe

were known to be Jewish or not the “perfect race” they were enslaved or killed. The Holocaust is

only a single example of similarity to the Salem Witch Trials as there are many more modern

day events that can compare to the events in 1692.