The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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What can be held responsible for the hysteria in Salem in The Crucible?

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While there is a list of people in The Crucible responsible for the hysteria that grips Salem, a more interesting culprit might be the town's culture.

Abigail, the girls, Hathorne and Danforth, Reverend Parris, and the Putnams all help to cause the hysteria in Salem. We could even make a case that Hale played a role in encouraging the Salem hysteria.  However, Miller makes a point that Salem's culture was predisposed to the hysteria that is the basis for The Crucible.

Much of the analysis about Salem's culture comes from the Act I stage directions.  Miller's details help us gain insight into Salem.   Miller talks about the town's intense seriousness towards daily life.  They had "no novelists- and would not have permitted anyone to read a novel if one were handy."  There was no theatre or anything "resembling 'vain enjoyment."  Dancing and celebration were seen as work of "jokers" and not encouraged.  The town's extreme seriousness showed a lack of perspective. It is why panic...

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