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Explain how Miller shows that the witch-hunt years were a time of general revenge.

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alexhayes95 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 7, 2012 at 4:26 AM via web

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Explain how Miller shows that the witch-hunt years were a time of general revenge.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:32 AM (Answer #1)

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I think that Miller establishes much in way of showing how the exercises of power and revenge resided at the core of the witch- hunt years in the initial stage directions that open the first act.  Miller uses this narrative as a way to frame both Salem and how his read of it will reflect the drama and the characters in it.  The "predilection for minding other people's business" becomes one of the elements that Miller uses to construct the idea that the Salem Witch Trials were more about power and revenge than about any sort of redemption or justice.  In these stage directions, Miller talks about how the people of Salem viewed themselves as a "light" in the dark world, using the candle and flame as a metaphor for a fire that can burn anything in its path.  Here, one can see how revenge can be so very close to the passionate authenticity in one's convictions that governs life in Salem.  Through this analysis, Miller makes it clear that power and revenge, being "right" as opposed to doing "right," are the driving forces in the Salem social setting.  Through this, one can understand how the social temperament and configuration of Salem life can lend itself to both a witchhunt as well as one rooted in vengeance.

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