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In the play, there are many characters who demonstrate their fear and paranoia. Partly there is a belief that there is an evil presence in the village; but also, it's obvious the villagers are turning on one another. By staying out of the public eye, the people of Salem may have been able to prevent being accused by their neighbors. Speaking out against the superstitious beliefs in witchcraft, or against the unjust proceedings of the court, was clearly a fast track to prison or the gallows, as John Proctor's sentence illustrates. Going along with the status quo, as Mary Warren tries to do, means one can be protected from the gang mentality of the young girls who accused their community of witchcraft.
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