What are some quotes about superstition from The Crucible?

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No, no. Now let me instruct you. We cannot look to superstition in this. The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone, and I must tell you all that I shall not proceed unless you are prepared to believe me if I should find no bruise of Hell upon her.

These are the words of Reverend Hale. Despite being a fanatical witch-hunter, an expert on witchcraft, no less, he's also determined that there must be clear, incontrovertible evidence of diabolical practices before anyone is convicted. For Hale, it's not enough just to point the finger of suspicion at someone and accuse them of witchcraft. As well as being manifestly unjust, that would also be a sign of rank superstition.

Whereas some might argue that all accusations of witchcraft fall into this category, Hale wouldn't agree. He makes the distinction between groundless accusations for which there's no physical evidence, and justifiable accusations that are backed up by signs of what he calls "bruises of hell." Only the former of these can legitimately be called superstitious.

I tell you straight, Mister—I have seen marvels in this court. I have seen people choked before my eyes by spirits; I have seen them stuck by pins and slashed by daggers. I have until this moment not the slightest reason to suspect that the children may be deceiving me. Do you understand my meaning?

These are the words of Judge Danforth. Unlike Hale, he's not interested in any "bruises of Hell." He's so steeped in superstition that he'll believe just about anything that Abigail Williams and the other girls tell him.

But there's more than just superstition in his stubborn refusal to countenance the fact that they may be lying to them. He's staked his whole reputation as a judge on the accusations of witchcraft being credible. He's in so deep that he cannot extricate himself from this maelstrom of madness even if he wanted to. And so he has no choice but to believe the girls, even if it involves subscribing to the most superstitious nonsense imaginable.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 24, 2019
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