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Presumably, if the patrol or the "authorities" found someone in derelict of the law, the person in question would be turned over to the authorities in Salem. Yet, Miller makes it clear in his initial stage directions, that this does not become the ultimate punishment. The real punishment in Salem is the idea that individuals become the subject of social gossip and innuendo. The "predilection" that Miller alludes to of people in Salem not minding their own business, but rather seeking to control the interests of others through gossip and through social malignment is the real punitive measure in the Salem community. This means, that if the patrol found someone acting outside of the norm, the legal ramifications would almost be secondary to the social one. Punishment, in Salem, was through the ruining of one's reputation. It is this element that ends up making the accusations so powerful in the town, something that Abigail recognizes in making the accusations that she does and something that others recognize themselves and follow. Salem's real punishment is not legal, but social and personal. It is here where the court of Danforth and Hathorne are criticized, for when the legal system becomes victim to personality and subjective preference, no hope for justice can exist.
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