In The Crucible, how does the town as a whole contribute to the Salem Witch Trials?Include a quote to explain.

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The majority of the town believes the girls' claims that several of the most revered Puritans (like Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor) are actually possessed or practicing witchcraft. The most probable reason for this support is so that the townspeople do not get accused. It is like the idea of the adage "If you can't beat them, join them." A quote that best exemplifies this phenomenon is in the descriptive text before dialogue of the play begins.

The Salem tragedy... developed from a paradox.... Simply, it was this: for good purposes, even high purposes, the people of Salem developed a theocracy, a combine of state and religious power whose function was to keep the community together, and to prevent any kind of disunity that might open it to destruction by material or ideological enemies.

Another way the town contributed to the trials had to do with material or reputable gain. When people wanted to gain an edge over a neighbor or other townsperson, they manipulated a young lady to accuse someone else (as the Putnams did with their daughter Ruth). Again, the opening narration provides a truth that generalizes this phenomenon:

Long-held hatreds of neighbors could now be openly expressed, and vengence taken, despite the Bible's charitable injunctions. Land-lust, which had been expressed by constant bickering over boundaries and deeds, could now be elevated to the arena of morality; one could cry witch against one's neighbor and feel perfectly justified in the bargain.

Surely, the blame for the situation in Salem lies much deeper than the girls or one family, it was a hysteria that infected all parts of the society.

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