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Similar to a voodoo doll, poppets are used as a form of what is called "sympathetic magic." The poppet, a small doll vaguely resembling a person, is imagined to represent a particular person, and any action perfprmed on the doll (poking it with a pin, for example, or dipping it in water) is meant to inflict pain or suffering on the individual represented. Although there nay be debate as to whether this form of magic actually works, the psychological impact is well documented: if a person believs they are the target of a curse or a campaign of negative thought they may well feel weakened, vulnerable or fearful. In The Crucible, this fear and vulnerability allows Abigail to wield power over the villagers of Salem, because they believe she truly has magical abilities. One of the main themes of this play is that it is superstition and flawed beliefs that govern how people act, far more than rational cause and effect, or a desire to treat others with respect or compassion. The poppet represents the powerlessness and the "smallness" of the villagers, who allow their superstitions and fear to govern their actions.
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