At the beginning of The Crucible, there exists a paradox: "All organization is and must be grounded on the idea of exclusion and prohibition." Explain how this quote reflects a paradoxical social...
At the beginning of The Crucible, there exists a paradox: "All organization is and must be grounded on the idea of exclusion and prohibition." Explain how this quote reflects a paradoxical social structure.
Miller's assessment of Salem is one of the many reasons why the drama works as a statement of literature as well as social science. The construction of Salem as a paradoxical social reality in which unity and coherence is present at the price of exclusion and prohibition helps to explain not only how Salem functions, but also how the witch trials gained so much traction in Salem. The fundamental question the reader confronts in the Salem Witch Trials is how a community of reasonable people would embrace such accusations that end up tearing apart a social order. Miller provides a potential answer in suggesting that the very essence of Salem society revolved around the idea of exclusion and demonizing "the other." Miller's analysis demonstrates how this was done with Salem's relationship with Native Americans, and invariably, how this was turned on itself. In the statement, Miller suggests that the social order of Salem could only survive through the targeting of "the other." This is seen in the drama as Putnam turns on Corey, Parris turns on Proctor, and Abigail turns on just about anyone and everyone who has done wrong to her. The basis for social interaction in Salem is done with exclusion and prohibition as a part of its modus operandi. Interestingly enough, the quote brings out how the social configuration of Salem would turn on those in the position of power, as well. Parris and the Salem Court recognize this in Act IV, when the citizens of Salem turn to demonizing the Status Quo, just as those did in Andover. In this turn, the quote ends up helping to explain how the end of the drama ends up developing, rooted in the idea of exclusion and prohibition.
Miller offers his explanation for why the witch trials began in Salem before the play begins. Miller explains that Salem was founded on a theocracy, which combined state and religious power in order to unite the community while simultaneously preventing ideological enemies from disorganizing the entire institution. Miller continues by stating that Salem's government was formed and prospered on the ideas of "exclusion and prohibition," which paradoxically affected the social structure of the community. Although the social structure of Salem remained intact for many years, the burden of suppressing individual rights and freedoms became a strain on the rigid government. Miller argues that the witch hunts manifested from the citizens' desire to have increased individual freedoms throughout the community. While Salem's theocratic government initially allowed the community to grow and prosper, the same ruling system became too oppressive, which had an adverse effect on the citizens. The panic and hysteria surrounding the witch trials became a catharsis for the citizens and a way to express their grievances.