What tells us that Salem is in great despair with contention growing between people?

1 Answer | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

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

Posted on

I think that once the accusations start to fly in Salem about who is a witch and who is not, I sense that there is a social despair evident, with greater accusations seen as the only way to alleviate it.  This ends up providing greater animosity between people until the end of the drama when the town begins to turn against the trials and those responsible for them.  Consider that the accusations started at the end of the First Act have swollen to include many more at the start of the Second one.  This helps to bring out that the despair in Salem is evident with growing accusations and also feeds the belief that the despair in Salem, quite real, can be alleviated with greater numbers of accusations.  In this, an interesting dynamic emerges, something that might be deliberate on Miller's part.  There is a social despair evident in Salem that is not resolved by collective unity and solidarity, but sought to be solved by greater social fragmentation and demonizing one another.  In this, Miller points to why there has to be a complete transformation of thought in Salem in order for despair to give way to healing.  It is in this where Miller suggests that a change in leadership is the only plausible solution in a setting where there is such a dynamic evident, seen when the trial is no longer legitimized and Parris no longer accepted as the town's spiritual leader.  In this, Salem finds healing and some hope at change.  This lesson is not learned until the very end, by which social despair had already claimed so much in damage and cost.


We’ve answered 317,742 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question