In The Crucible, one of Arthur Miller’s themes is the examination of the causes/effects of unproven accusation or labeling.He saw this happening in his own life during the McCarthy Era of the...

In The Crucible, one of Arthur Miller’s themes is the examination of the causes/effects of unproven accusation or labeling.

He saw this happening in his own life during the McCarthy Era of the early 1950’s when men and women were accused as Communists and underwent a modern-day witch trial. Miller wrote The Crucible to explore this sensitive issue. Speculate on several causes or effects of unproven accusation/labeling. Use The Crucible as your source of reference in you educated guess as to why people accuse others and what happens as a result of such behavior.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In answering this question, I think you can examine several elements to assist you.  The first would be to analyze how the justice system in Salem disappears when the accusations begin to surface.  I think that sensing how individuals are "selected" for their trials, meaning how the accusations gain traction, would be one area of study.  This would involve examining the individuals who make the accusations as well as the others who permit this to happen.  One of the critical themes that arises from the work is the idea that when individuals are faced with peer pressure, their reactions either emboldens it or resists it.  Examine the reactions of individuals in the town who acquiesce to the accusations versus those who stand in defiance against them. For example, how do the characters of Giles Corey and Putnam differ?  In studying and detailing the characterizations of individuals in their response to accusations, one can gain a better idea of their implications.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For causes of unproven accusations:

  • Jealousy.  This seems like a fairly important cause of accusations in the play.  Abigail's jealousy is the cause of her framing of Elizabeth Proctor.
  • Avarice.  The accusations made by Thomas Putnam seem to be driven by his desire to get more land.
  • Desire to get attention.  The girls as a group seem to me to driven by a desire to have people notice them and to feel important.  Mary Warren's behavior is a good example of this.

As far as effects, it seems like the major one is the ruining of people's reputations and fortunes.

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The Crucible

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