Why was Martha Corey (Giles' wife) accused of witchcraft? 

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Act One, Reverend Hale travels to Salem and is confident in his abilities to discover and rid the town of witches, spirits, and demons. Giles Corey is visiting Reverend Parris's home when Hale arrives and is intrigued by Reverend Hale's mastery in the world of Satanism and witchcraft. Giles Corey innocently remarks that he has caught his wife reading "strange books" and mentions that he could not say his prayers while his wife was reading. According to Giles Corey, when Martha closed her books and left the room he could miraculously say his prayers. As the community of Salem gets swept up in the hysteria involving witches and sorcery, Martha Corey is suspected of witchcraft for reading "strange books" that presumably prevent her husband from praying. In Act Three, Giles Corey gets kicked out of the courtroom for attempting to defend his wife and regrets mentioning her habit of reading "strange books" to Reverend Hale. Martha Corey is another example of an innocent, morally-upright woman arrested on unsubstantiated evidence.

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Giles Corey, a minor character in Arthur Miller's The Crucible, unknowingly places his wife, Martha, into the spotlight when he discusses her reading of "strange books." During a conversation with Reverend Hale, Giles asks him what "signifies the readin' of strange books." Hale questions Giles about the books, and Giles can offer no answer because he has never seen the books (he claims Martha hides them from him). Giles goes on to state that he cannot pray when his wife reads the books. 

Since openly discussing what happens when his wife reads her strange books, Martha is accused of witchcraft. When faced with the accusations, Giles denies that his wife is a witch, only that she read strange books. Given the hysteria enveloping Salem, any strange behavior is associated with witchcraft. Therefore, Marths's reading of strange books is concerning (especially since it stops prayer), and Martha is accused of witchcraft. 

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