I need a rebuttal for my persuasive essay. My thesis is as follows:  The quote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" can be applied to the relationship between modern...

I need a rebuttal for my persuasive essay. My thesis is as follows: 

The quote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" can be applied to the relationship between modern day Americans and "The Crucible".

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First of all, very good thesis.

It is very true that history is meant to be a teacher to all of us, from which our mistakes can be extrapolated and analyzed. If we deny our history, we deny ourselves one of many chances to be better people and not make the same ignorant mistakes of the past.

Now, for the rebuttal. Since you are using a quote that is commonly known, assume that the rebuttal will be done in the same format to throw you off.

Keep in mind: These thoughts I am about to share are NOT my personal opinion, but a crafted rebuttal meant to reject your statement the way that it is done in a court of law, or in a typical debate. It is not the opinion of the writer that counts, but the content of the rebuttal itself.

Here it is:

George Bernard Shaw said:

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.

This being said, what would be the use of recollecting the past of the pilgrims of Salem, when their society, way of life, and even their mindsets have zero to nothing in common with the purpose and causes of our current situation as modern Americans? Surely we could find some common denominators in their behaviors and ours, but they, in no way, could possibly help predict the future of a world that has changed so much after their own society, essentially, disappeared.

Reason 1

The society of Pilgrims and Puritans that is shown in The Crucible represents our past. However, this group presented to us in the play represents a sample population of Americans that in no way resemble the modern-day citizens of the United States. The behaviors that led the people of the village to commit the acts that they committed stem from sources much more different than similar situations that have occurred in modern day America. Although it is good to learn from many different sources in history, it is really not worth correlating the behaviors of the Puritans to our own. Their society is long-gone and has left very little influence in our current mindsets.

Their story is not our story; it is not worth looking back and trying to analyze them to prevent a future debacle in the world that we know now.

Reason 2

The people that we are trying to compare are "apples and oranges". While the Puritanical society in The Crucible was solidly founded upon the tenets of the Calvinist church and its beliefs, such tenets proved to be sand, and not rock. The people disbanded, fractioned, and became weaker than ever as a group. Puritanism imploded and, eventually, nearly disappeared.

It was the ignorance of the people of that time, and their traditional penchant to be blind followers, that rendered them prone to commit acts of irrational treason, false accusations, witch-hunting and pettiness as those shown in the play. The rationale behind modern wickedness is very different. 

Reason 3 

A more contemporaneous study of American behavior is much more beneficial to study our potential future than going back in time in a place of which nothing is left that we can connect to today.

It is true that similar behaviors like those presented in The Crucible have occurred in modern day America. Namely, our tendency to destroy people that we have helped to build up, and our love for accusing others and also witch-hunting them when we do not agree with what they do.

However, the things that lead a modern day American to engage in behaviors that are as primitive as those as the people from Salem have nothing to do with Puritanism, nor lack of knowledge, nor with a penchant to blindly follow a leader.  There are less human and more political reasons behind current social issues.

Modern American witch-hunts come with ulterior motifs, mainly geared to benefit, whether financially or politically, a small, powerful faction ; the modern witch-hunt is designed to bend laws to benefit the few who truly rule this nation and pull the real strings.

In The Crucible , family feuds, the breaking of the puritanical code, and the overall weakness of the system caused for the chaos to break lose. Our witch-hunts, however,  are not ideological, but politically-induced. The big companies, and the names and last names of powerful people are the ones who choose who stays and who goes; who is good and who is "bad".

Therefore, there is no use comparing our current ways with the ways of the people from Salem. Their witch-hunts were different than ours, their causes were their own. It is unfortunate, but modern society has very little of "its own" to defend or guard, and-instead- has been distilled by higher powers that are in total disconnect from the people.

These are the reasons why not ALL history is worth analyzing if it completely detours from the way that situations have shaped the country into what it is now.

>> Keep in mind that this rebuttal was written to counter argue your point, not because I necessarily feel that way<<< Good luck!

Read the study guide:
The Crucible

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