How is it that Salem deteriorated so quickly and easily into conflict?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Salem "falls apart" because of its fear.  With their specific fear of witchcraft and witches, the town of Salem descends into a morass of hysteria and accusation.  Miller uses this as how any society which is gripped by irrational fear and paranoia cannot sustain as a force of life.  Salem possessed a fear of "the other," as consistent with Puritanical views of the world concerning individuals, sin, and malevolent forces which threaten the world of God.  Such a conception of society and human nature does not immediately lend itself to the most open forms of trust, transparency, and solidarity.  Already placed on this precipice, Salem is manipulated into a widening gyre of suspicion, accusation and targeting behavior by political and social forces that were able to consolidate their own sense of power through this hysteria.  Reverend Parris and others like him were able to gain power from this manipulation as well as the conflict created within its citizens.  Miller seems to be suggesting that when societies that are built upon narrow conceptions of the good are controlled by individuals with self serving agendas, conflict and social atrophy will result very quickly.

Read the study guide:
The Crucible

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question