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Conflicts can bring out the worst in people. This is especially true in Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Puritan life in 17th century Massachusetts was governed by strict rules of behavior.
Puritanism did not encourage individualism, rather the life of the community was dependent on the devotion of the followers as a whole. This unit behavior was instrumental in the survival of the colony in the brutal environment of 17th century Northeastern United States.
"Their religion required them to act honorably towards their fellow men and to help each other."
Even though Puritans were expected to live in harmony with each other, disputes arose over land rights, livestock sales and jealousy.
As the conflicts festered, along with hidden resentment in conjunction with the hysteria of witchcraft, people began to attribute their losses and misfortune to the use of black magic by their neighbors. Once this started, the ripple effect, or guilt by association was dramatic.
In the case of Salem, conflict did bring out the worst in people. But it is not always the case, conflict is a natural part of any relationship, family or community. It is the ignoring of conflict or the sublimation of the importance of addressing disputes in a timely and honest manner that can lead to frustration and conflict bringing out the worst in people.
This question has been asked in a variety of ways and answered several times on Enotes. Follow the links below to see the results in both the Question and Answer section and the Discussion Group.
When you read these answers, keep in mind that the greed of Mr. Putnam, the jealousy of Mrs. Putnam, and the power-hungry desire of the girls who are so used to being controlled in their lives, are all unleashed as a result of the "witchcraft" conflict. These unsavory characteristics may have stayed hidden had the accusations never begun as a way for the girls to protect their reputations.
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