In Act 2, there are refrences to the inability to recite the 10 commandments. What does this reflect about the people of Salem?

1 Answer | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

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

Posted on

I think that the accusations and the "test" of the Ten Commandments' recitation reflects how hysteria has gripped the town and how those in the position of power are able to use established religion to further their own aims.  Given the fact that there was little in way of evidence that was needed to accuse and find someone "guilty," using the knowledge of the Ten Commandments was viewed as good proof as any.  Those who could not recite them were seen with skepticism or seen as guilty.  Danforth is able to imprison Sarah Good because her inability to recite the Ten Commandments "must" prove her evil nature.  In Hale's case, he is a bit more tolerable, but his use of the Ten Commandments helps to bring about John's own weakness in his support of the established religion.  In both cases, questions about the accused's guilt is evident in their inability to perfectly recite the Ten Commandments.  This might be representative of how little evidence was used in the "trials" and the issue of "guilt" was more determined by personal motivation than anything in terms of actual meeting of an evidentiary burden.

We’ve answered 318,985 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question