What is it about the society of Salem that makes the girls stories so believable in The Crucible?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Miller presents the society of Salem to be obsessed with the devil and witches. It appears from the text that any bad event or act of misfortune is interpreted by certain fervent characters as an act of witchery or as tangible proof of the presence of the devil. This is certainly something that Mrs. Putnam seems to convey in Act I when she eagerly (and not without a certain amount of excitement, it appears), rushes into Betty's room to share her view that this is a proof of witchery:

It is a marvel. It is surely a stroke of hell upon you.

Even before Parris has a chance to respond to this, she continues, asking "how high" Betty flew. Flying was a clear sign of witchery, and Mrs. Putnam concludes that Betty must have flown before any other proof of witchery is offered. Salem is thus presented as a society that saw itself in a spiritual battle against the forces of Satan, with witches representing those who were in league with evil. In such a conflict, the various signs of enchantments and witchery were to be expected. Note how Hale refers to this conflict when he appears in Act I: it was an everyday part of the Puritan's spiritual life.


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