What did we learn in the opening narrative that is important to the events that follow?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the stage directions are vitally important to understanding both the conditions of Salem and what will follow in the drama.  I think that that construction of how confused Salem was regarding issues of spirituality is brought out in the opening narrative.  Miller argues that the confusion about spirituality is how the people of Salem were so easily misled about the fears of witches and the emotional contagion that followed.  In his discussion about how children were perceived in Salem, Miller is able to bring out how the failures of raising children in the town helped to explain why the girls pursued the paths they did.  At the same time, the idea that the citizens believed that they "held the candle that would light the world" was something that enabled them to believe in the sincerity of their own convictions.  Miller's stage directions also make clear that it is this ability that enables them to so easily suppress their own in their beliefs that they are doing what is right, regardless of the cost.  In these elements, the opening narrative helps to establish and explain much of what will happen and why it happens.