In "The Crucible", Act IV, what is the condition of Salem at this point in time? Why?

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edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Act IV of The Crucible contains many events that contribute to Salem's condition.  At the beginning of the act, three months have passed and the trials have demoralized many in the village.  Reverend Hale has returned to Salem not as an investigator or adviser to the magistrates, but as an advocate for the accused.  He urges them to give false confessions so that they will escape execution.  The fact that he has switched sides is a symbol of the deep divisions in Salem, and his advocacy is seen as a threat by Danforth, who struggles to maintain the authority of the theocratic government. When Danforth learns that Andover has abandoned its trials because of riots, he doesn't believe that the same will happen in Salem until he, an outsider, is told that if he executes people like the Proctors and Rebecca Nurse, riots will erupt in Salem as well. Parris, who has always been a controversial figure in town, has been tacitly threatened with a dagger in his door. 

The legitimacy of the court has been openly called into question, and so many people have been jailed or executed that untended cattle are wandering the streets and care of children of the accused has been passed to friends and neighbors.  It is a village on the brink of implosion.

pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The condition of the town of Salem is one of chaos and disorder. There are farm animals, such as cows walking around loose, crops are dying in the fields, the town lies in great disrepair. This has occurred because there have been so many people accused that they have not been home to look after their farms and animals.

The town is totally caught up in the witch trial hysteria, it has reached a fever pitch, a boiling point. 

"Time has passed since Act Three, and it is now fall. The symbolism of the season is apparent. Fall is the time of fruition, when crops reach their fullness and are harvested. It also heralds a time of death and decay."

"The hysteria of the witch trials has now reached its peak and is approaching its inevitable end. For months the residents of Salem have done nothing but attend the proceedings of the court. There is a real sense that the town is tiring of the spectacle."

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Salem is very much divided and tired of the witchcraft trials. When John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse are hanged, this is evidence to many people that the trials and accusations have gone too far. Abigail has fled the city, afraid of the vilification she has begun to endure. Rev, Hale is disgusted at the deaths he has approved. Miller tells us that Elizabeth Proctor was eventually freed from prison and remarried. The citizens of Salem were so embarrassed that they changed the name of the city have just recently changed it back again. Ironically, it seems the devil's work had been done in the city's fight against the devil.