In The Crucible, how was the Puritanical movement a motivating force in the witch hunt?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the opening and extensive stage directions in Act I can help immensely in examining how the Puritan ethic helped to set the stage for the witch hunts in Salem.  Miller writes extensively on the Puritan historical condition that grip Salem.  We can see this at several critical points.  One such point is with the idea that the Puritanical condition led to the "predilection for minding other perople's business."  This was a notion that existed in the Puritan thought that homogeneity in all of its forms was vital and essential to being in God's grade.  It is this predilection that led to the accusations as well as the covert conditions enabling so much of the witch trials to materalize with such an emphasis on spectral evidence and little based on factual samples of proof.  Miller speaks of the "candle" that the Puritan citizens of Salem held which they believed would "light the world."  In the process, this is what they used to actuallly metaphorically burn one another.  At the same time, the fear of God and the Puritan belief that God is fundamentally unhappy with human beings is what drove the witch trials, something that would undoubetedly have been negated with a more benevolent view of God.  This harsh and angry view of the divine was something that Miller argues is essential in the Puritan thought of Salem in the time period.