There Are Wheels Within Wheels Meaning

"There are wheels within wheels in this village and fires within fires." Explain this quote from The Crucible.

Asked on by rosey-girl

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The quote in this question comes from Act I and is said by Mrs. Putnam when she is arguing with Rebecca about the cause and the reason for her many miscarriages. Mrs. Putnam clearly points towards supernatural reasons for her repeated inability to have another child, and she looks towards others and their successful ability to have children as proof of this. When Rebecca tries to calm her down and suggest that there might be other reasons for her ability to have more children, note what Mrs. Putnam says:

You think it God's work you should never lose a child, nor grandchild either, and I bury all but one? There are wheels within wheels in this village, and fires within fires!

Mrs. Putnam therefore uses this quote to point towards the existence of the supernatural and to try and explain the unexplainable events that areĀ happening in this village. However, at the same time, ironically, her words could be used to explain the whole witch hunt and the very damaging events that happen in Salem. To the audience it becomes clear; there are wheels within wheels within Salem, and these hidden motivations and undisclosed petty jealousies are the real driving force behind the witch hunt, far more than the actual existence of any witchcraft. Miller therefore uses this quote to point towards the real reasons behind the witch hunt and how human emotions such as jealousy, revenge and greed, were able to masquerade as genuine Christian piety and an attack against the devil.