Give examples of how in Act 1 of The Crucible brings to life the conditions and values of 17th century Salem.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the major ways in which the values of 17th century Salem are brought to light in the opening scene is through the way that the characters talk about and refer to witchcraft and the activity of the devil as if it were part of everyday life. Of course, to them, at their point in history, it was, and witchcraft was something that appeared to be on everybody's mind. Thus it is that characters such as Goody Putnam seem almost delighted that they have found new evidence of witchcraft and are very quick to label everything that has happened on the work of the devil. Note what Goody Putnam says as soon as she enters in Act 1, "full of breath" and "shiny-eyed":

It is a marvel. It is surely a stroke of hell upon you.

She even is "very pleased" with the way that she is able to report to Parris that others saw his daughter fly. When Hale arrives, it is clear that witchcraft and the work of the devil are so important to this society, that there is a whole established system of thought about the work of evil and how to identify it. Note how he describes the books he has:

Here is all the invisible world, caught, defined, and calculated. In these books the evil stands stripped of all his brute disguises.

All these details serve to present the audience with a world that possesses radically different values compared to our own, and a world when people are quick to blame the devil for everything that does not fit their "normal" experience of the world. Given the limitations of their normal experience, it appears the devil was blamed for a lot.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team