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The Crucible by Arthur Miller

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Religion as a form of Mass Hysteria Mass hysteria is the loss of control over ones independent thought. It results from fear of the unknown caused by an event or events that cannot be explained. Mass hysteria is a phenomenon that has occurred throughout history, still occurs, and will occur as long as there are groups of people around. This phenomenon is what Arthur Miller writes about in his play The Crucible . Arthur Miller illustrates his view of the evil extremes of mass of hysteria by describing how the loss of independent thought and blind belief in the unseen and unknown created by religion make people susceptible to these extremes of mass hysteria. In the beginning of the play, the mass hysteria in regard to the witch trials has not yet taken place. However, this is when Abigail first realizes the potential for power that exists. For example, "Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word . . . and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you." This shows that Abigail is fully aware of the consequences of her actions and does not want to have to deal with them and shows that she is willing to use the threat of physical harm in order

Throughout the play, the people are quick to affirm their allegiance to God by accusing other people of performing "witchcraft". This shows that in their hurry to "do the right thing" they are actually being manipulated to use their religion as cloak to hide the true intentions of people like Abigail. Miller has an understanding of mass hysteria and its effects and uses his play as a means to try and warn the people of today about the dangers of not thinking for oneself and believing blindly in the unknown and the unseen. By realizing the power that is available to them and taking advantage of it, these people simply help the weed to flourish. The congregation follows this sort of intolerant thinking taught by the church without question which further increases Abigail"tms ability to manipulate the people into believing anything she says. The power that she gains from these manipulations allows her to water and fertilize the seeds she has sown and cause it to flourish into a weed that chokes the life out of all that comes near. This is where Abigail learns to take advantage of the response to coercion in order to manipulate the people. These are all contributing factors that help fertilize the weed. This shows that Abigail manipulates the people around her in order to gain a position of power so that she can further manipulate whoever she wants in order to achieve what she wants regardless of who gets hurt or even killed. This shows that through taking advantage of this power, they are only further increasing the mass hysteria. Their spiritual leader is actually one of the persons responsible for the people"tms susceptibility to mass hysteria. The Puritans are an overzealous religious



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