In "The Crucible", how are the witch-hunts a time of "general revenge"?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, if you didn't like your neighbor for some reason, then hey, you can declare them a witch.  If you were upset that for some reason a neighbor got more land than you did, call them a witch and then you can buy up their land when they are thrown in jail or hanged.  If you had ever been offended by anyone, it was your chance to get back.

Thomas Putnam's greed for land prompted him to have his daughter cry out on George Jacobs.  Ann Putnam, very jealous of Rebecca and all of her babies, resentful of her righteous attitude, and incensed by the land wars with the Nurse clan, accused Rebecca of "the marvelous and supernatural murder" of her babies.  The Putnams finally get their revenge.  Walcott, offended by Martha Corey's audacity to tell him that if he didn't feed his pigs they'd all die, declares that she "bewitch them with her books" .  Abigail, upset by Elizabeth firing her and that Elizabeth gets John and she doesn't, devises the entire "needle in the poppet" scheme to get Elizabeth arrested; finally, Abby can have her revenge on that "sickly...cold, sniveling woman"!

Unfortunately, the witch trials were a "respected" form of outlet for some of the less honorable feelings that the people of Salem had for one another.  The trials became a stage where every slight, insult, and feud was dangerously displayed, with disasterous results.