The crucibleHow is mass hysteria an important theme in the book? Why is i important and how does it apply to our daily lives?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's such a common scene, mass hysteria, though we usually see it in a much less drastic form.  In a nursery, when one baby starts crying, they all start crying.  When a few kids on a playground start picking on someone, the rest hover around, cheer, and maybe even get in a kick or two.  When there is a drastic sale on bridal gowns, flocks of people go crazy; and when WalMart is going to open its doors at some ungodly hour of the morning on the busiest shopping day of the year, a stampede can kill an innocent worker.  Most riots start as gatherings, just as these witch trials started as silly girls doing some forbidden dancing and simple magic in the forest.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a matter of mob psychology, groups of people tend to feed off of others' fear and apprehension, causing a spiral of fear.  This is just part of a pattern of human behavior throughout history, so we can apply it to Salem, or McCarthyism in the 1950s as Miller intended, or to our reactions to Pearl Harbor or 9/11.

Miller tries to make this point in his play, so mass hysteria is a central theme and context for the events that take place in The Crucible.

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mass hysteria is infecting. People can give up their individual feelings in favor of those of the mob before realizing that a decision to do so has been made.

As a popular hysteria spreads, both positive and negative, its effects become magnified. We can see this in popular fads as well as in negative fears, such as the example of the witchhunts in Salem and the "red scare" in the 20th century of the US. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's an important theme because the whole witch trial episode is being driven by mass hysteria.  Everyone is suddenly afraid that Satan is among them and must be driven out (even though there is no real evidence that this is happening).

The play is meant to warn us of the dangers of reacting blindly because we are afraid of something (like terrorism, perhaps).

dtarver1003 | Student
The crucible

How is mass hysteria an important theme in the book?

Why is i important and how does it apply to our daily lives?

In Arthur Miller’s, “The Crucible,” many themes are expressed throughout the play. Themes are the undertone of the story. A theme of a book usually sets the mood and describes what is happening during the time that the story is written. “The Crucible” has many themes that show how everything was and how everyone acted in the year of 1692, in Salem, Massachusetts. Mass hysteria is the most obvious theme in the story. Mass hysteria is represented everywhere trouble was. One example is at the end of act one when the girls are screaming, crying, and starting to accuse people of being with the devil. When this happens, everyone gets scared and calls the marshal. The marshal begins to arrest people and bring them jail.

issy77 | Student

why can religion cause conflict

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The Crucible

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