How widespread was the witch-hunt hysteria portrayed in Arthur Miller's The Crucible?
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In one sense, the witch-hunt hysteria was limited in extent, encompassing only a small geographical area near the coast of colonial Massachusetts. On the other hand, the hysteria, while associated with the Town of Salem, actually drew in several surrounding towns, including Ipswich, Andover, and Salem Village (different than Salem Town,) all of which conducted hearings to ferret out suspected witches. During the course of the hysteria, over 150 people were formally accused of witchcraft, with twenty-nine people found guilty. Nineteen of these people were executed. These numbers, when considered in the context of the intimate environs of these small New England towns, give some idea of the extent of the hysteria. Yet what is difficult to measure are the aspects of the witch hunts portrayed so vividly by Arthur Miller in The Crucible. The hysteria and the trial had major ramifications for the worldview of New Englanders, as well as their relationships with each other. Scholars have long recognized an association between the witchcraft accusations and local rivalries, and the hysteria can only have deepened many of the social divisions that existed in both Salem Village and Salem Town.
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