How are Giles Corey's contrasting personality traits significant to the Salem hysteria (in Arthur Miller's The Crucible)?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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If I understand your question, it seems that you are asking how Giles' personality supports the outbreak of hysteria among the villagers of Salem. Essentially, the question is asking: In what way may Giles' character lead to, or support, the hysteria of Salem?

Arthur Miller's The Crucible illustrates how hysteria can break out based upon unknowns and fear. Giles Corey, a man who tends to find himself defending himself a lot (thirty-three times in court), poses a question to Reverend Hale (an expert on witchcraft). Giles asks Hale (a learned (educated) man) about the reading of "strange books." His wife, Martha, reads books which she hides from Giles. Giles also finds that he cannot pray when she reads. 

Giles need for information, his curiosity, causes attention to be placed upon his wife. If he would not have been so curious about the books, Martha may never have been charged with using books to bewitch pigs. Also, Giles' quick temper lands in trouble with the courts. He accuses Putnam of reaching out for land through making accusations against Salem villagers. Not wanting to name names, Giles is found in contempt of the courts. This said, Giles' desire to make things right is seen in the end when he is pressed to death. Not wanting his land taken from his family, Giles refuses to answer to the charges. All he states is "more weight." This shows his stubborn nature. 

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