How does "The Crucible" highlight the detrimental effects of a repressive society?

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A section of the Salem community was persecuted based on superstition, religion, and personal vendetta. The power of religion over the people and the enforcement of the religious code on the community by the authorities made the society a repressive one. Individuals had no choice with regards to religious practice. They were expected to remain silent about their concerns on the administration of the church and religious practice in general. The people were also expected to go to church consistently, and failure led to suspicions of witchcraft. For instance, Hale suspected John after he unconvincingly responded to his questions about church attendance, his child’s baptism, and the Ten Commandments.

The author showed the detrimental effects of a repressive society by singling out the individuals who took advantage of the situation to forward and/or protect their interests. For instance, the issue of witchcraft was used by some individuals to get rid of their foes. Mr. Putnam used the situation to try and appropriate privately owned property by falsely accusing Giles. Judge Danforth failed to uphold justice and instead sought to protect his position. In conclusion, People in positions of power and those that can manipulate the situation have the last say in a repressive society.

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How does Arthur Miller use his play The Crucible to comment on social repression and mass hysteria?

Although Miller set this play early in Massachusetts colonial history, during the Salem witchcraft trials, it is recognized by many as being allegorical, and easily applicable to other situations, most apparently including the McCarthy trials of the 1950's, when many prominent people were accused of, and blacklisted for being, Communists.  In fact, even though it was written in 1953, it was been read and performed worldwide ever since, and its themes are of particular appeal to anyone who has ever experienced directly, or indirectly, repression or sanctions for questioning authority, disagreeing with ideas, or generally refusing to go along with the status quo within society. 

Miller takes the panic, rumors, and hysteria that developed in Salem and led to the executions of a number of residents and generalizes it so that it is recognizable not just in McCarthyism, but in the situation in Tianamen Square in China in 1989, in Burma where Aung San Suu Kyi was held as a political prisoner for years, and even in the United States where politicians occasionally pontificate on which party is more patriotic, suggesting at times that questioning the government indicates lack of patriotism. One need only look back just over a decade prior to the writing of Miller's play to see the allegory played out in Nazi Germany. 

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