Discuss the following idea with reference to The Crucible: "Social order can deteriorate into conflict and anarchy with disturbing ease."

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

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I think that the idea of how social order can rapidly move into conflict and anarchy is fairly well proven with the end of the First Act.  There is a stillness surrounding the not moving body of Betty Parris, and a general inertia in the room when the girls are lying in wait.  When Abigail accuses Tituba, she in turn accuses Goody Osburn and Goody Good, followed by Bridget Bishop, with Sibber, Barrow, Hawkins, Bibber, and Booth, the anarchy is released.  Whatever presence of social order disappears rapidly with the presence of accusations and a lack of evidence.  The rapidity with which all of the accusations happen at the end of Act I helps to bring to light the severe lack of coherency in Salem.  It also highlights how conflict and anarchy end up running Salem into the ground.  It is almost as if there is an intense snowball effect where escalation is evident.  There is no one stopping the girls from making accusations.  Parris is screaming hosannas to the Lord, and the others are salaciously looking on as more people become accused.  There is little presence of order or guidance within which these accusations are made.  Rather, there is an emotional contagion present in the room at the end of Act I that seems to encourage this sense of disorder and anarchy.  It is here where I think the deterioration of social order is quite present.

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