How do guilt and superstition go hand in hand in "The Crucible?"

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missy575's profile pic

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

Posted on

Abigail experiences both of these throughout the Crucible. Abigail's great lies throughout the story deeming anyone she disagrees with a witch demonstrate both her guilt and superstition.

Abigail should feel guilt for seducing John Proctor, however I think guilt strikes her most only when she gets in trouble. In Act I as the story opens and they can't get Rev. Parris' daughter to awake, they are certain a spell has been cast on her. Truth comes out in bits and pieces and Abigail experiences guilt then.

In Act IV, after a little more truth has been revealed through the trial (even if some have a struggle in believing it), Abigail skips town as a demonstration of her guilt for falsely accusing all of these good people.

So, how does superstition tie in with that guilt? Every time she does experience guilt it is from her dabbling with the superstitious art of witchcraft or accusing others of witchcraft. To be able to sell her lies, she and the other girls would act as if under the influence of witchery.  

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The main connection I see between the two is that both guilt and superstition cause problems for John Proctor, in particular.  Proctor ends up being hanged largely because of two things -- A) his own sense of guilt for his adulterous affair and B) the supersitions of the people in the town who believe Abigail and the girls when they "see" the spirits.

I guess you could say that a mixture of guilt and superstition are responsible for the whole witch hunt as well.  Betty Paris's superstitions about conjuring, along with her guilt about doing it, cause her to go into that "coma" which is the start of all the trouble.

I hope at least one of these sounds plausible and helpful to you...


mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

Abigail feeds on the people's desire to believe in that which is  non-existent.  During the era of "The Crucible" people had not been aware of the scientific discoveries of modern day.  Having little knowledge and a strong focus on the Devil versus God, it was very easy for people to be afraid of the unknown.  Fear could easily be driven by superstition.  Resulting in the arrest of many people who were innocent.

Abigail used the superstition of the people as a weapon to get what she wanted.  She was able to attain power through the use of superstition.  Other people also began to use the power of superstition against their enemies.  The ignorance of the population allowed  superstition to run rampant.

John Proctor carried the guilt for his actions of his affair with Abigail.  John could not tell the truth and initially allowed his wife to be arrested because of his own behavior.  His guilt began to consume him until he exploded with the truth and at Abagail who continued to deny it.  In the end even at risk of his won death John refused to lie because he felt an over whelming amount of guilt that his wife was going to hang for the township's belief that she was vexing Abagail.  He refuses to sign the paper because he knows he can no longer carry guilt. 

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