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Examine the meaning of the following quote from Act I in The Crucible: “This...

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lilian-0716 | Student | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted March 24, 2013 at 7:29 AM via web

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Examine the meaning of the following quote from Act I in The Crucible:

“This predilection for minding other people’s business was time-honoured among the people of Salem, and it undoubtedly created many of the suspicions which were to feed the coming madness.”

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

Posted March 24, 2013 at 10:45 AM (Answer #1)

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The original question had to be edited.  I invite you to resubmit the other part in another question.  I think that Miller uses the idea of people in Salem "minding other people's business" to help explain why the witch trials took a hold in Salem so rapidly and with so much fervor.  Miller's initial construction of the community of Salem is one in which people are shown to be concerned with others.  This concern is not a sincere one, as much as a paranoia or obsession with what others are doing.  

This helps to feed Miller's vision of a community that is inwardly drawn.  It is this predilection that helps to drive the judgmental nature of the community. Miller suggests that an event like the witch trials could happen with frightening ease because of such a "predilection."  The witch trials helped to pass judgment on others, to determine that a particular person was either wrong or right in who they were and how they lived.  Miller feels that the obsession with others and a lack of internal reflection regarding oneself are intrinsic elements to Salem's composition that enable an event like the witch trials to happen.  The desire to mind what other people were doing and to pass judgment on it are cultural realities of Salem that Miller felt animated the witch trials.

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