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Examine the significance of how the town of Salem has changed in the first two acts.

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dangerardsmith | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 4, 2012 at 4:26 AM via iOS

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Examine the significance of how the town of Salem has changed in the first two acts.

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

Posted December 4, 2012 at 11:21 AM (Answer #1)

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The change in Salem in the first two acts is significant.  The first act is one in which the town is unclear as to what happened.  There is much in way of confusion about Betty Parris' illness.  There is much confusion about the presence of "the unknown" in Salem.  There is confusion because there is no certainty.  Yet, by the second act, there is much in way of absolute certainty, or at least, supposed certainty about what is happening.  The trials have taken full hold.  The accusations that ended the first act, providing some type of comfort regarding who is "guilty."  The fact that more people have been implicated indicates a change from the wonderment of what needs to be done to the idea that the more accusations that fly around represents the greater amount of perceived comfort.  At the same time, I think that the town has changed in the idea that power rests with those who are making the accusations.  In the first act, this was not the case, as "voices of reason" like Giles Corey and Rebecca Nurse were being accepted, to an extent.  In the second act, the "coalition of the sane" is losing membership as the succumbing to fear and accusations are both becoming the norm.  The shift between both acts represents to what extent the town is experiencing fragmentation.

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